workstation-1Openness is a big thing nowadays in both the private and public sectors. The digital revolution has created a world where organisations are expected to be open and while many are rethinking what that means on a brand and external comms level it also has big implications for internal comms and collaboration.

The capability is now there for even the largest organisations to make it easy for an entire workforce to access and find every document you’ve ever produced. Improvements in SharePoint’s search capability have been headline features at the launch of both SharePoint 2013 and 2016, showing how important it is. In SharePoint 2013, Microsoft improved how documents are crawled and ranked, and made it easier for users to see what they’re getting with a mouseover preview panel, document type icon, and document likes all of which made searching much faster.

With the growth of hybrid intranets (i.e. part on-site, part on-cloud), SharePoint 2016 will enable employees to find documents which are kept securely in on-premises environments without interference from security protocols normally associated with such access.

For any significant enterprise the challenge is to make this available to staff in an intranet that looks good and that staff use. EasyShare (our customisable templates for SharePoint) delivers all of SharePoint’s native search capability within great looking templates that are quick and easy to deploy.

If you’re CIO, the idea of every document being accessible will probably have you spluttering in your coffee. Of course, some things have to be hidden, but to reap the benefits that collaboration brings you do need to open up some access and the more you do so, the greater the degree of collaboration you allow; so the question is: How much should you open up?

This is where factors like the nature of your industry and business, and your attitude towards openness come into play.

The policies you set will be defined in part by the nature of your documents and partly by your culture and attitudes. Clearly some data is sensitive and cannot be shared, particularly in regulated industries such as financial services, but does your attitude towards openness mean you keep hidden things that need not be? It’s not unusual for large enterprises to hide information unnecessarily because of a sort of cultural paranoia, and at the cost of the collaborative workforce that they desire.

The value from increased knowledge, connections and learning makes a strong case for appraising access rights. Features like ‘people also looked at,’ ‘related documents’ and ‘related teams’ can actively lead staff to a rich seam of resources within your organisation. Permission management is simple using groups and tickboxes – all that’s necessary to open up your digital workplace is the right planning and the will to do so.

A common complaint from communications people is that their organisation is too siloed. It’s not a lack of desire that creates this situation. It’s staff lacking the time to find information from outside their immediate vicinity and network. The key to changing this is the intranet, especially the search function, but it is only as powerful as you make it.