The words ‘Intranet’ and ‘SharePoint’ have become synonymous. After all, it’s estimated that 50% of all intranets run on SharePoint. But not all is well for the Redmond giant. SharePoint administrator salaries have fallen by 7%last year(all other IT salaries increased 3%), only 6% of SharePoint users are completely happy with it, and more and companies are either completely abandoning SharePoint or having to use hybrid solutions to overcome the shortfalls. 

At the same time the second generation of Intranets, called Intranet 2.0 or social intranet solutions, have been quickly spreading in popularity, so quickly that Microsoft itself has been forced to buy out SharePoint competitor Yammer for a cool $1.2 billion a year and a half ago. So what can Intranet 2.0 solutions (Bitrix24, Mango, Jive) do for you that SharePoint can’t? 

1. Save you money. 

SharePoint is unreasonably expensive. If your company has 100 employees, expect to pay at least $25,000 in licensing fees alone. The cloud version of SharePoint starts at $3 per user per month, but it doesn’t really do anything. For $8 per users you also get social features via Yammer integration. And if you want to work with documents, you’ll have to pay $15 per user per month for Office 365 integration. If you also want email (Outlook or Exchange), you have to pay even more. In fact, SharePoint licensing is so confusing that it takes a special consultant to give you even a ballpark estimate how much it’s going to cost you. Intranet 2.0 solutions, on the other hand, often charge flat fee for unlimited users ($100-$200 a month). There is a very big difference in paying $100 a month vs $1000 a month and price is a major consideration for many companies. 

2. Mobile intranet. 

I don’t know why, but Microsoft decided not to release SharePoint mobile app for iOS and Android. Yammer has one, nearly all Intranet 2.0 solutions have one, even SharePoint partners often have mobile apps for their solutions but not SharePoint itself. So if you want to have a fully functional mobile intranet, you’ll have to look elsewhere. 

3. Intuitive Dropbox-like document collaboration and file sharing. 

Document management is supposed to be SharePoint strongest point. In fact, it’s fair to say that it still is a great document management system- just stuck in the past. It’s like Redmond never heard of Dropbox or Box.Com. Just like with the mobile app, for some strange reason Microsoft decided not to release modern desktop app for SharePoint that lets you easily synchronize and share documents, forcing you to use OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) instead, which just doesn’t cut it for most users. 

4. Unified Communications and Collaboration. 

This is the biggest SharePoint sin in my book. Your company probably has CRM to track sales, Project Management for planning, Human Resources Management System for dealing with HR issues. You share documents with your co-workers, talk to them on the phone, exchange e-mails and have an occasional video conference. In Intranet 2.0 solutions, like Bitrix24 or its clones, all of these features are right inside your intranet, already integrated with each other and getting along nicely. Easy, right? So why doesn’t Microsoft - which does have its own CRM (Dynamics), PM (Microsoft Projects), social network (Yammer), videoconferencing (Lync), mobile platform and other solutions - just seamlessly integrate them into SharePoint? 

5. Lookin’ good. 

SharePoint is butt-ugly. There, I said it. And it’s not just a matter of taste. Design, usability and user experience are all intertwined. SharePoint is already suffering from low adoption and satisfaction rates. People just don’t get excited about SharePoint (not that they ever did). At the same time, Intranet 2.0 solutions are capitalizing on the trend of IT consumerization, SharePoint is still hopelessly behind. In the past you could simply force intranet onto your employees. Everybody just looked and the cafeteria menu page anyway. But as the intranet and collaboration segment matures, and as more and more Gen Y workers enter the workforce, expectations are higher, and you really have to concentrate on intranet UI to achieve adoption and to boost workforce efficiency. 

The famous ‘dinosaur law’ states that things get really big right before they are about to go extinct, and $2 billion per year SharePoint industry seems to be following that path perfectly. Granted, SharePoint has a lot of advantages over the fledgling Intranet 2.0 solutions, from hundreds of thousands of certified developers and administrators to an entire ecosystem of existing apps, extensions and plugins that help users work around SharePoint’s drawbacks. But when one day it joins the ranks of Internet Explorer, Bing, Zune or Windows CE, one won’t be able to say that nobody saw it coming.

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