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Enterprise software that solves work problems

The Top 4 Ways to Decrease SharePoint Costs

Using SharePoint throughout your enterprise can be a very costly business. Having to adapt the technology constantly as your work demands rapidly change is an expensive and time consuming business.  Below are 4 ways in which you can decrease your SharePoint costs this year.

Top 4 Ways to Decrease SharePoint Costs

  1. Integrate Everything into SharePoint:  Don’t have your development team spending time (and resource) on simple marketing tasks like hosting and streaming videos when this can easily be done within SharePoint using a third party app.

  2. Make sure SharePoint is available on any mobile device: It seems like every two minutes a new tablet or smartphone is developed. Let’s face it, SharePoint isn’t exactly the easiest or quickest to install in order to meet this demand. The good news is that there are a few solutions out there that save your Dev team hours and offer an easy installation process. Installing a third party service will decrease SharPoint costs and reduce the amount of time it can take to install SharePoint on each mobile platform.
  3. Branding your Intranet: These can be three of the deadliest words heard by your Development team, however, we all know how much branding increases user adoption.  SharePoint has its issues, but when employees adopt it – productivity dramatically increases. Before the end of this year, look into third party services that will help save development time and SharePoint costs by offering no coding required solutions.
  4. Find an InfoPath alternative:  We all know that Microsoft is discontinuing InfoPath, and many developers are thinking about InfoPath Alternative solutions. Even though InfoPath client applications will be supported until 2023, it’s important to do your research now. Do not just think about an Infopath Replacement but instead think about an InfoPath improvement.  What products are there out there that offer you, a much more flexible solution to common work problems?

In Conclusion

Hiring consultants and working with developers may not be the most efficient way to build out your SharePoint Intranet and solve major work problems in 2016.  One of our goals at Emgage is to create flexible, highly customizable product and service solutions that allow you to significantly reduce your SharePoint this year. To get a demo of our products contact us here.

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Why SharePoint is Still the Ultimate Choice

When my wife and I got married, a friend who was moving back to Canada decided to give us an apartment full of furniture to start our new life together. It was awesome, there was only one problem…

He gave us a long sectional which we liked a lot but for the fact that it did not have any legs and that it sat low to the ground. But he gave it to us and we were grateful.

After 6 years of carting that sectional from house to house last year we finally decided that we were through with it and that we would put it on the curb and offer it to members of our local community via Facebook.

Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 2.55.45 PM.png

Surprisingly…

As I turned the sectional on its side to get it through the doorway I heard a strange rattle from inside the sectional. What was it? What could it be?

We peeled the back off the sectional and to our surprise inside the sectional were two large packages. My mind first went to suspicion. Was my friend into drugs? Could this be a big stack of money?

As we excitedly opened both packages we were amazed at what we saw: inside our sectional all this time, completely unused and still packaged up, was a perfect set of legs.

We excitedly put them on, and to this day the sectional we were going to throw out, the sectional we considered worthless, now sits front and center in our living room.

I often tell this story as I think it is a metaphor for how many enterprises are thinking about their SharePoint Environments.

They’ve been carrying them around for a while, using SharePoint in part, without ever really fully understanding the deep power lying latent within their SharePoint.  Some are even thinking of discarding SharePoint and buying into other different third party options that glisten on the surface but lack the deep potential and unshakable foundations of SharePoint.

In today’s workplace, work itself is changing, it is increasingly becoming knowledge based, it is increasing virtual and increasingly mobile. While most corporations would never think of getting rid of their physical office space, they are on the precipice of throwing away the one tool that could provide a central, highly connected, collaborative virtual hub for a mobile and productive workforce.

There is deep power within your SharePoint environment lying latent waiting to be discovered, you just have to go deep inside of it to find the legs that it is supposed to have. And that is the very essence behind what we do at Emgage, we have created products, Prime, Turbo and Turbo View that take your raw SharePoint environment and utterly transform it into a centralized workhub that greatly enhances the communication and collaboration through-out your organization.

Don’t throw out the couch (your SharePoint), there is so much more waiting to be discovered inside.

Free E-Course: Improving the Search Ranking of Your SharePoint Website

The video below is a recording of the first session in a 3-part E-Course run by SharePoint Specialists Emgage.

Your SharePoint website should be deserving of an audience. The higher ranked your website is on search engines like Google (for appropriate Search terms) the more your organization will be viewed as a trusted authority.

SharePoint is difficult to optimize for search but it is NOT impossible. In this free, 3-part E-Course on building a SharePoint Site with great SEO Geoff Talbot takes us through the process step-by-step.

Session 1 is recorded below. To take part in additional sessions visit here and sign up.

To watch more webinars from Emgage visit their Work Platform Webinar Center.

Successful Enterprise Technology – The Best InfoPath Replacement

No one would replace their beat up old Prius with another old Prius if they could access the awesome efficiency of a brand new Tesla. It simply wouldn’t make sense.

Yet too many organizations are looking to replace InfoPath with a tool that is exactly the same; a tool that requires hours of coding and IT support.

Emgage, has developed the premiere InfoPath Replacement Turbo, a product that sits on top of SharePoint and allows Users to create complex business applications without writing a single line of code.

Watch as Harout from Emgage test drives Turbo in the webinar below.

3 Keys to creating Successful Enterprise Technology

When you are choosing any piece of enterprise technology for your company, there are 3 essential criteria that you should consider.

  1. It should be as natural as possible.
  2. It should result in a significant decrease in the amount of work required.
  3. It should have a positive economic impact.

Step 1: As Natural as Possible

Successful enterprise technology should be trending towards making work as natural as possible. This means hiding all the technical elements, putting them behind a wall so to speak, and creating a user interface that is natural and user friendly.

One of the primary problems with InfoPath in its current state is that it requires a lot of coding, it typically requires an IT Department to create a form on the Business User’s behalf. As a piece of enterprise technology it is not natural to the user, it is not intuitive, it doesn’t allow the User to solve their own problems.

So what?

As a result then, the process from problem identification (the User says: I need a form to solve this problem) to problem solution (User has a form to solve a problem) is far to convoluted and not natural. The form request has to be submitted to the IT department, where there is often a bottleneck. In the IT department, a person who is unfamiliar with the problem then attempts to create the solution. Again, this takes a long time.

Successful Enterprse

Step 2: A Significant Decrease in Work

A lot of knowledge work is repetitive, so the goal of enterprise technology should be to organize and automate repetitive actions so that the user can work faster and concentrate his or her energy on things that truly matter.

When you think of the analogy of a marathon runner who takes 33,000 steps on average to complete a marathon, you can see that the technology, in this case the running shoe, needs to be as light as possible so the runners legs carry very little repetitive weight.

“If your enterprise technology is too heavy, to work intensive (re:InfoPath), then the knowledge worker will get worn out not only by their work but also by the technology that was designed to assist them, not hinder them.”

Again, the goal of Turbo from Emgage is to carry the burden for the knowledge worker, providing them with actual solutions that reduce the load of repetitive actions.

successful enterprise technology

Step 3: A Positive Economic Impact

Look at the example of the TESLA and ask: “Why has it been so successful?” Clearly there are several reasons, but one reason that stands out (clearly) is that it has a positive economic impact on a day to day basis for the user. Simply put, it is fully electric and so you do not have to fill up with gas.

When you are looking for an InfoPath Replacement, one of the questions you also need to ask therefore is, “what product will have a significant daily, positive economic impact on our bottom line?”

In particular with knowledge work and enterprise technology, you must ask, “what kind of technology will reduce the amount of human resource invested in providing a solution?” The fuel that knowledge work typically runs on is “human resource hours,” so your goal in looking for the best InfoPath Replacement should be to significantly reduce human resource hours

Summary – Successful Enterprise Technology

The requirements for finding an InfoPath replacement clearly mirror the requirements for acquiring any piece of enterprise software. It should result in easier, more natural work that improves your bottom line.

Part 2: Optimizing SharePoint Websites for the Search Engines

In today’s blog post we are going to unpack some specific techniques required to optimize your SharePoint site. Read Part 1 right here.

Optimizing SharePoint Websites for the Search Engines

Search engine optimization can be broken down into two basic areas.

  1. On-Page Factors – how you tell the search engines to file your content.
  2. Off-Page Factors – what others are saying to the search engines in regards to your content.

SharePoint Website Optimization – On-Page Factors

SharePoint websites are known to be more difficult to optimize in general because of header codes and inflexible page structures etc. But you should not confuse more difficult with impossible.

I like to explain on-page optimization with the following metaphor, scary though it is…

“Imagine losing your 4 year-old son or daughter in the worlds biggest shopping mall with over one billion people (there are over a billion websites in the world). Also imagine that you’ve been told that there is a giant camera, an eye in the sky, that can quickly pass through the crowd, moving through the people extremely quickly as it looks for your child. What kind of information are you going to program into the camera? What kind of information will help them find and identify your child? The more information you give them the more quickly they will be able to find your flesh and blood.”

The following elements are extremely helpful when it comes to finding anyone:

  1. Their Name: The Meta-Title of your Content
  2. Their Address: The Url of your Content
  3. An Accurate Description: The Meta-Description of your Content
  4. Distinguishing Features: The Headings in your Content
  5. Accurate Photos: Alt Tags on the Photos in your Content
  6. Habits and Particular Idiosyncrasies: The words you use in your copy, particularly in the first and last paragraph.

“When you are optimizing your piece of content, you want to use your targeted keywords to label your piece of content so that the search engines can find it easily and quickly when others are looking for it.”

To overcome the challenges of optimizing a piece or content on SharePoint, I recommend that you be more aggressive in how you use your keywords. For example:

  • Use the Keyword at the very beginning of your Meta-Title and your Meta-Description.
  • Create friendly URLs where the keyword is used in the very first part of the variable.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing with Meta-Tags. If you use more than 3-5 tags your piece of content maybe down-graded by the search engines.
  • Use variations of your keyword at least 5-times in your copy.
  • Use at least 3 images and alt tag them with keyword variations.
  • Use your keyword in at least twice in your  H1 or H2 headings and use this keyword at the beginning of your heading.

 

SharePoint Website Optimization – Off-Page Factors

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post “off-page factors” are what other websites (including social sites) are saying about your particular piece of content.

It may pay to think of off-page factors from this perspective, when no one is talking about your piece of content (linking to it, referring others to it, sharing it on social media), search engines like Google tend to think of it as unimportant. Conversely, when everyone is talking about your web content (Large numbers of links and social shares) then the search engines see your piece of content as being important and perhaps even as an authority regarding your particular chosen keyword subject and they tend to rank you more highly.

“Again, back to our missing child metaphor at the mall metaphor. Organic search is a form of crowd sourcing in one way, the kind of search where everyone helps the person searching find the “child” that they looking for. Your child is going to be found by the search party much more quickly if members of the crowd are pointing towards where they last saw him or her.”

 

Key to optimizing SharePoint websites

The following elements are extremely helpful when it comes to off-page factors:

  1. Street Gossip: Social Signals. People sharing your links on social media
  2. Announcements by Authority Figures: Directory links and links from high quality blogs
  3. General Help : Links from general blogs.
  4. Size of your Team: If your website is large and many of your own pages and posts are linked together, then the search engines think of your site as more of an authority and they will rank you more highly.

So again to overcome the challenges of optimizing a piece or content on SharePoint, I recommend that you be more aggressive with building your off-page factors. Ways to do this include:

  • Have an aggressive internal link building strategy, where every piece of content links to at least 2 other pieces of content on your site.
  • Have an aggressive social sharing strategy that involves a community of likeminded businesses who share each others content on social media (Social Monkee offers this).
  • Get your entire site listed in specific directories (like DMOZ).
  • Get your content featured on high ranking blogs.
  • Have an aggressive blog commenting and community building strategy.

Summary of SharePoint Website Optimization

It is so easy to focus so much on the disadvantages that you face when it comes to optimizing your SharePoint Website that you miss out on the advantages.

One of the advantages of building a website with SharePoint is that you can create a very deep and complex site, with multi-level navigation and different site collections. The immense size and complexities of these websites is actually a huge strength when it comes to ranking on search engines like Google.

The large numbers of images, pages and posts that you create also offers you another competitive advantage; every optimized piece of content represents another doorway into your business, the more doors you have, the easier it will be for potential customers and clients to find you.

So don’t be discouraged, in part 3 of this series next week, I am going to put together a video to demonstrate practically how you can optimize your SharePoint website.

You deserve the “TESLA” of all InfoPath Replacements

Free Webinar:  Get the Tesla of all InfoPath Replacements
Where: Online
When: 22nd of September 2016 @ 11AM Pacific
How: Register here

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Meet “SharePoint” the Pig

Did you know that over “300 Pigs” played “Babe” in the movie Babe?

WHY?

Because piglets grow so fast and it takes a long time to make a movie.

To use SharePoint effectively for your website or intranet, then you need to take the same innovative approach. See the video below that compares Pigs and Sharepoint. It is very illuminating.

There is more information on PRIME here.

Part 1: Optimizing your SharePoint Website for the Search Engines

The Internet is like the busiest shopping world in the entire galaxy.

Not only are there billions of shoppers there are also over a billion shops or websites (Internet Live Stats).  As you can imagine in a shopping mall this busy, it would be very easy for a shopper to get lost, for them not to be able to find exactly what they are looking for. As you can also imagine it is also very easy for “a storefront” to get metaphorically lost, for it to remain hidden and unloved, off the beaten track, stuck behind monster department stores, with no one ever finding you or noticing you.

When you think about your SharePoint Website or Extranet it is imperative that it is not difficult for the “right people” to find you. In fact your website should be incredibly easy to find on big Search Engines like Google. When people are looking for your products or services, you should be the first option provided to them by the Search Engines.

Watch our Free Webinar on Creating and Optimizing SharePoint Website here.

This is not about ego, this is not about been the most popular kid at school, this is 100% about being relevant and about being known as the expert in what you do or provide.

Search Engines results are increasingly becoming less about popularity and more of a measure of expertise and authority in the minds of those who search.  And this authority is vitally important when it comes to your brand’s value and perception.

So the first question, that we must ask when it comes to optimizing your SharePoint Website for the Search Engines is this:

What are the areas of expertise and authority, that you wish for your business to be known for more than anything else?

Optimizing sharepoint for search

Cutting Your Own Path Through the Forest

At the beginning of this article, I used the metaphor of the Galaxy’s Biggest Shopping Mall to describe the Internet, but I would also like to use another metaphor, I’d like to use the metaphor of ‘the Biggest Forest you could ever imagine.”

Making your way through a thick, giant, dense forest is extremely difficult, not only is it easy to get lost, it is actually very difficult and sometimes impossible to move fast. In a dense forest, pathways and tracks are extremely important if you wanting to move at any speed.

As you think about optimizing your SharePoint Website or Extranet for search, I want you to think about the dense forest in which you are operating. The best way to help relevant people” find your business in this dense forest is to cut your own path through the forest.

The phrase “cutting your own path,” expresses clearly the need for your business to be unique, to be orginal, to offer a point of difference from all of your competitors. When you are not fighting with your competitors both in business and on the search engines, then you are free to be original and to carve out your own specific niche.

“At Emgage, we like to say, when competition is low, it is extremely easy to win.”

 

Knowing Your Competition Allows You To Avoid Your Competition

One of the first things that we do when it comes to optimizing a SharePoint Website for a client is to analyze the competition. We want to see what they are doing on the Search Engines. We ask questions like:

  • What is their unique selling proposition?
  • Who are your ideal clients or customers.
  • Who are your competitors ideal clients?
  • How well optimized are their websites?
  • Where is their traffic coming from?
  • What “search terms” are they targeting?

We don’t ask these questions so that we can necessarily beat them (although we will attempt to if we think we are stronger), we ask these questions so we can also avoid them, so that we can come up with a fresh approach, a new SEO strategy, search terms that are relevant and easy to target and rank for.

We analyze your competition so we can help you cut your own path through the dense and murky forest of the search engines; the kind of path that will allow large numbers of relevant people to find you and drink from your well of authority.

In the next blog post, I will take you through exactly how to cut your own unique path through the forest and to succeed with the search engines.

Register for Our Free Webinar

See our Free Webinar on Creating and Optimizing SharePoint Websites and Extranets here.

Putting Lipstick on Your SharePoint Intranet

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

In the same way, you can try your best to make your SharePoint Intranet more attractive. You can try and teach it to behave by transforming it into a “social intranet. You can do a lot of superficial things to increase your Intranet Adoption rate…  but at the end of the day, if it was once a pig, it will always and forever still be a pig.

Not that I have anything against pigs.

As a former Veterinary surgeon, I know only to well that pigs are supremely intelligent; they are even very clean, if given the space a pig will designate specific areas for specific activities, one area for eating, one area for the poop and pee, and a separate area for sleeping. But you cannot expect a pig to be anything else other than a pig.

This is not an insult…but…

Your SharePoint Intranet is a pig. It is very smart, highly functional and it can grow very, very quickly. but if you want it to reach its full potential, then you are going to have to stop dressing it in heels and putting lipstick on it. Let her be a pig.

Transform SharePoint Intranet

Getting Primal with Your SharePoint Intranet

When it comes to Intranet Adoption it’s time to get primal and go back to your piggy roots and asking the hard questions like, “exactly, what is the core purpose of this thing?”

The overarching core purpose of any piece of enterprise software is to make work significantly better for the user. When this happens there is no problem with Intranet adoption.

In fact, low Intranet adoption is a symptom of an Intranet that doesn’t solve big work problems for the User. When your employees are not adopting, when they are reticent, they are actually trying to tell you something about the technology… they are trying to tell you that the old way of doing things is still better.

Getting primal with your SharePoint Intranet is the first step in solving your adoption problem and greatly increasing the efficiency and productivity in your workplace.

3 Primal Questions to Ask:

  1. Where are the sticking points/log jams in work productivity for each of your Users? (You will have to ask them)
  2. What are 3 ways in which your SharePoint Intranet could make work significantly faster and simpler for each type of User you have?
  3. Does your current Intranet address these problems and provide significant solutions? If not, why not?

Avoiding the Lipstick

There are a lot of vendors out there, who are promising to put lipstick on your pig. They promise to rebrand your Intranet, give you nifty social tools. and to really get your people talking via your Intranet. This lipstick should fool no one.

Identifying your work problems and creating an Intranet that will truly solve these problems is the process that you must go through if you are truly wanting to use SharePoint Intranet to grow your organization.

One organization that is doing a great job of addressing the deep issues with Intranets is Emgage. I would recommend you check them out and book a demo here.

If it ain’t mobile, it ain’t happening

Don’t build a great looking Intranet without thinking about the actual screens your knowledge workers are going to be using to access your site.

No one would bother inventing a black and white only television screen today.  In the same way, creating an intranet that is not highly responsive, and that does not work properly on smartphones or tablets is futile.

What is a Responsive SharePoint Intranet?

For Enterprises developing Intranets with SharePoint, it is imperative that their sites look great and work well on mobile.

Work is becoming increasingly virtual and increasingly mobile, so if your Users cannot access the valuable resources (via your Intranet) that they need to do their work efficiently from a remote position, then you are going to see their productivity drastically decrease.

A responsive SharePoint Intranet is one that works and functions well on a screen of any size. As you can see from the image below, smartphones, tablets and desktops have very different screen sizes and shapes.  The mobile screen is the shape of a typical door and yet your desktop screen is a wide landscape.

So the question is how to you design and develop an Intranet that works well and looks great on such different devices?

Responsive

Responsiveness isn’t a native feature within SharePoint. Read on, and I will give you a really great tip on how you can make this happen without hours and hours of costly coding and development.

The Giant Problem Of A Lack of Responsiveness?

When you think about the phrase “responsiveness” and you think about it in terms of typical human relationships, you will intuitively  understand that it is extremely difficult to have a relationship with an unresponsiveness person?

This is exactly the issue you will have if your SharePoint Intranet or Website is not responsive. The relationship that your users have to your Intranet will be extremely difficult; when relationships are too difficult people tend to leave (unfortunately sometimes) and look for something else.

If your Intranet or Website doesn’t make the work lives of your users significantly better then you are almost certainly going to suffer from a lack of use and user adoption issues.


Take A Giant Leap andMake your Site Responsiveness 

While many large enterprises are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and many months, branding and stylizing their own Intranets there is a much more efficient solution.

At Emgage, we’ve worked really hard to develop a product called Prime that sits on top of SharePoint and makes your Intranet Responsive instantly without the unnecessary and painful sweat of in-house development.

In the 21st century, you must be mobile with your Intranet, it must be highly responsive and dynamically powerful… but it doesn’t have to cost you the earth.

See Prime from Emgage…. they give free Demos

 

 

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