Phoenix Group

Making Phoenix Group's Windows 8 experience seamless

The Phoenix Group is a life assurance fund consolidator that specialises in the management and acquisition of closed life and pension funds. Measured by total assets, the Group is the largest UK consolidator of closed life assurance funds and has over 5 million policyholders and £51 billion in assets held by the Group’s life companies.

ClerksWell worked together with Phoenix Group to build our most innovative and complex SharePoint solution yet, using EasyShare, the SharePoint intranet accelerator as a base point.

Phoenix wanted to create their new intranet on SharePoint 2013, however as they were in the process of upgrading the corporate desktop to Windows 8.1 they sought an intranet solution that integrated seamlessly with the Windows 8.1 Metro interface. The vision was an intranet integrated directly into the desktop, broken into distinct ‘hubs’:

  • “Me at Phoenix” – all about employee personal experiences at Phoenix, their MySites, personal feeds and social /collaborative interactions.
  • “Phoenix News” – all about corporate and social communications and updates.
  • “This is Phoenix” – an information hub to support day to day working at Phoenix, such as company values, organisational structure, policies and procedures.

These hubs were required as Windows 8.1 live tiles that would launch a Windows 8.1 app that presented the intranet in an app environment and fully conformed to the app framework with full screen UI and horizontal scrolling.

Our solution was to build custom page layouts in SharePoint 2013 that contained the content of the hubs. These were special pages that looked nothing like SharePoint, suppressed the SharePoint page furniture and resurfaced existing functionality and new web parts that were created for EasyShare. One was built for each hub. These were the ‘meat’ of the hubs – but in SharePoint. We then built a Windows 8.1 app within the Windows app framework which presented the hubs within a browser control. We also created dynamic tiles, one for each hub that launched the apps. The tiles pull content out of SharePoint (e.g. most recent news for the news tile).

Additionally, we built a configurable alerts system so users received Windows 8.1 style desktop notifications whenever news was published. All of this was highly configurable to prevent dependence on a supplier. So Phoenix can change labels, images, hub locations, frequency of notifications, default positions of tiles, number of news items to show, on screen duration of notifications and much more.

In addition to delivering a solution that completely matched their vision for a Windows-based solution, we provided Phoenix with a customised editorial interface, which enables content authoring to be devolved across the enterprise with minimum training or skill requirements and no specialist knowledge of SharePoint.

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