Employee-Driven Design: Part 3 — Personalization

So, you’ve identified and consolidated the systems you need, and you’ve built an information architecture to supply engaging content to your employees. Now let’s take Employee-Driven Design one step further and personalize the content that’s being consumed.

Personalization in Microsoft 365: It Remembers You

Have you ever searched online to buy an item and all of the sudden it pops up on every future website you visit? With Microsoft 365’s personalization features, you can design your Digital Workplace to function similarly, in a less annoying fashion.

Everyday AI

Intranet personalization leverages metadata, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning in order to present the most relevant information to the user. While that may sound very technical, in reality it’s as simple as signing into your Intranet and having it remember what you were doing the last time you were working. Across all the features of Microsoft 365, a user just needs to log into any computer/mobile device, and their recent activities are displayed for them, along with suggested items of interest.

Have Users Participate in Their Experience

The controlling factor for all personalization features is the metadata that’s tied to each user. This data included fields with attributes like:

  • Identity
  • Location
  • Department
  • Focus Area
  • Interest (I like a topic)
  • Skills (I have a capability)

With Microsoft’s Active Directory, you can even create your own custom attributes as needed.

The more metadata that’s associated with a user profile, the more personalized an individual’s workplace experience will be. But who is responsible for filling out those fields? In most cases HR enters much of this information during hiring. As mentioned in our engaging content post, metadata can do some pretty cool stuff — like automatically generating content around birthdays, anniversaries, etc. But, you can also have your employees participate in their own personalization, by having them flesh out their user profile, interests, and skills as part of the on-boarding process. They also have the ability to tag the content they generate with those same interests and skills to further enrich each other’s intranet experience.

Build A Customized Home Page for Every User

Yes! — With Microsoft 365, everyone can have their own, personalized homepage, but you certainly don’t have to create an individual page for every user (yikes!). However, custom pages are going to be necessary for some folks. In those cases, the metadata tied to each user in Active Directory can be used to serve up the most relevant information and really personalize their pages. When a page only has room for five pieces of news, then that news should be the most appropriate for that user.

If you’re going to allow users the freedom to create their own pages, make sure you have a good governance plan in place (we’ll talk about that too!) You can start by having your IT team create branded templates for specific types of site pages — Community vs. Project — which can be a great way to maintain control over your SharePoint instance, while giving people the flexibility they need.

Personalizing your Digital Workplace is one of the many ways you can use your intranet to connect to users and keep them engaged. We’ll dig into this concept more in Employee-Driven Design: Part 4 — Connecting Employees.

If you have any questions about using Employee-Driven Design to develop your digital workplace, reach out to us online, or give us a call at 240-406-9960.

Topics: Digital Workplace Trends
Adam Levithan

Adam is a Principal at Withum and is a Microsoft MVP. He is a seasoned business strategist, SharePoint advocate, and information architect, focusing on designing information management and collaboration solutions leveraging Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 technologies.