This month, independent Intranet services and consulting company Clearbox Consulting released their 2023 Intranet and Employee Experience Platforms report, a comprehensive and thorough review of thirty of the most used and effective Intranet and employee experience platforms in the market. The report focused on essential aspects such as user interface, frontline support, analytics, and integrations. They assess the products against business scenarios that they have identified and provide an objective score for the platform’s performance.
Overall, they gave LiveTiles a very favorable score based on the platform’s strongest points. Here are some of the key takeaways:
- Well-designed features for navigation and information on the SharePoint intranet.
- Ease of access for frontline workers, even without the need for a paid Microsoft license.
- A flexible and efficient modular approach with a seamless user experience across all products
- A strong analytics and insights platform.
- A best-in-class automated employee directory
Since it is an exhaustive and sweeping document, we summarized the report of LiveTiles platform in this blog for a more succinct and easier to digest review. We directly lifted the quotes that perfectly encapsulate why our platforms perform well against key requirements.
1. User experience and visual appeal – Score: 4
“Navigation is especially strong in the SharePoint intranet module that will appeal to large and complex organisations.”
The LiveTiles platform offers two different intranet experiences: Reach, an employee communications solution optimized for mobile, and a SharePoint-based Intranet platform.
Both solutions offer a consistent user experience, with news articles and other content presented in a consistent way across both platforms. Navigation is especially strong in the SharePoint intranet module, with the matrix-based navigation that will appeal to large and complex organisations. Clearbox is also impressed with the ‘Everywhere panel’, which is a floating navigation bar that is customizable with shortcuts to content and intranet functionality and illustrates LiveTiles “be where the user is” design principle.
2. Mobile and frontline support – Score: 3.5+
“Reach has an attractive, card-based user interface with a single-column layout with icons at the bottom of the screen giving access to often used areas.”
LiveTiles Reach, which is optimized for mobile and frontline and deskless employee requirements, can work together with Microsoft 365 and Azure AD if desired, but a paid Microsoft license is not required. Reach can also be accessed via MS Teams. The Stream feature brings news, events, and social content together in a single feed or employees can personalize their own newsfeeds as desired. Reference and resource-focused content can be targeted to specific profiles for frontline workers.
Reach offers a basic chat feature, which works on mobile and in the browser, and is also available via MS Teams. Another tool is Roll Call, which prompts employees to confirm their safety status in case of emergency, and MyReachZero, which supports employee-driven climate action. A documented API is also available for developers to build links to additional systems.
3. Internal communication – Score: 3+
“LiveTiles offers a range of web parts that allow content authors to build rich and visually attractive pages.”
While the LiveTiles platform has two approaches for publishing news and other content, the recommended approach is the Reach news editor, which is integrated with SharePoint and offers a clean, well-designed template, tagging and targeting options, and audience targeting based on group membership and the use of publication channels. There are also features to support editorial workflows and approval processes, such as an editor chat, preview functions, and a draft overview for authors and editors.
Reference pages are handled the same way as news articles, and LiveTiles offers a range of web parts to build rich and visually attractive pages. Urgent and crisis communications are supported in different ways across both products. The Reach features can also be used to share selected content to external audiences and track engagement statistics with the analytics platform.
4. Community and engagement – Score: 3.5
“An innovative tool that we particularly like is called ‘MyReachZero’, which allows organisations to engage with their employees about climate change.”
Employees enter their personal efforts and commitments into the tool, and a climate engagement tracker will show the impact of all individual contributions towards the company’s net zero targets.
The Reach product offers a range of community and social features oriented towards mobile use but is also available in the SharePoint product through specific web parts.
At the core is the Reach posts component, which allows for short pieces of information, ideas, community building and knowledge sharing. Users can comment, react and @mention in all posts and news articles. Users may add their own content in Reach ‘Groups’ in which communities collaborate or discuss a particular subject. Functionality is also offered around events, where users can create a simple event registration process, register attendance in advance and access a moderated chat before, during and after the event. LiveTiles Vibe is an additional poll and wellbeing product that allows team leaders to engage with their teams and get a sense of their wellbeing.
5. Information finding and knowledge management – Score: 3.5
“LiveTiles offers an attractive search experience for users of the SharePoint-based product as well as for mobile users.”
In the SharePoint-based environment, search results are presented on attractive cards, with thumbnails to reflect the type of content displayed. Users can filter the results using broad categories such as documents and people, and then drill down further based on additional refiners.
Content stored in SharePoint as well as in LiveTiles’ own CMS is indexed and displayed. There is also a separate option to search the navigation menus. LiveTiles also offers an integration with enterprise search provider Coveo for large and complex organizations.
People search and user profile management is the focus of LiveTiles Directory, a separate employee directory solution that also comes with a customizable and automated organization chart.
Knowledge finding is supported in several ways, including provisioning a wizard to set up SharePoint sites based on specific templates, metadata association, and web parts such as an accordion menu and an automatically generated table of content for documentation.
6. Admin experience and governance – Score: 3.5+
“You don’t have to be a technical expert to use the site or page-level admin functionality in LiveTiles.”
Using the site or page-level admin functionality in LiveTiles does not require technical expertise. The integration between SharePoint and the Reach solution has been improved with a centralized ‘Admin Center’ to manage users, permissions, and audiences in one place.
Managing page layouts is straightforward and a range of web parts is available to present information in an engaging way. Intranet managers can see built-in heatmaps that show which web parts are most popular and use the tool to intelligently rearrange web parts based on usage statistics and corp comms needs.
Multilingual functionality within the product is comprehensive, once you follow the recommended approach of using the Reach functionality for creating content. Publishers can choose to manually add translations that are saved alongside the original language version, and automated translation based on the Azure translation service is used to generate a draft version of the content. This is a powerful tool to connect international locations for social and collaborative purposes as well as driving greater inclusion and raising the employee voice.
7. Analytics – Score: 3+
“Comprehensive analytics are available in LiveTiles for content residing in the Reach product.”
Editors and administrators have access to a range of reports about content usage and adoption. There are also detailed reports that provide actionable insights into the reasons why a news article or campaign is successful or not.
An integration with Google Analytics is also available. Mandatory reads for policies and procedures can be tracked and reminders can be sent to employees if needed. Popular search terms in Reach are integrated into analytics reports, and additional configuration allows for more granular search data.
8. Digital workplace integrations – Score: 3+
“LiveTiles has a number of integrations readily available within the product and comes with an API and an integration platform for customers and partners to build their own.”
It also offers useful out-of-the-box integrations such as RSS feed, video platforms, and stock photography. For customers and partners who want to go beyond the available options, LiveTiles includes a powerful connector framework and a fully documented API, allowing developers to build plugins.
Integrations with popular collaboration and communication tools such as Slack and Workplace by Meta are available. The Events module within Reach integrates with MS Teams, Zoom, and WebEx, while the Intranet module integrates with Box, DropBox, and Google Drive. The optional integration with Coveo provides a federated search capability across many business applications.
9. Microsoft 365 integration – Score: 3.5
“Both Reach and SharePoint-based products offer a consistent user experience and strong navigation capabilities.”
The depth of integrations with Microsoft applications varies between the SharePoint intranet module and Reach. The SharePoint intranet makes full use of the underlying SharePoint features, including the “Everywhere panel” which shows a user’s MS Teams, Outlook, and documents.
Both the SharePoint and Reach products are available as apps within MS Teams, and the Reach chat feature and notifications can also be accessed from MS Teams. LiveTiles has created a useful and thoughtfully designed site provisioning engine for SharePoint sites for communities or groups in MS Teams.
Yammer content is made available through a web part in the SharePoint-based intranet, and Viva Connections is supported as another way to bring the SharePoint product into MS Teams. Videos from Stream can be used in a banner news story and embedded in pages within Reach. The M365 integrations across both products are well considered and implemented, with improvements compared to previous versions.
10. Wildcard – Score: 4.5
“We were impressed by the richness of the features on offer in the People Directory, and by the attention to detail in the execution... one of the best people finding tools we’ve seen in this report”
The People Directory offered by LiveTiles is an additional product accessible through the Reach and SharePoint intranet. It helps organizations keep people’s data up to date, offering a directory and organization chart with features that will appeal to end users, communicators, and HR managers.
The real power of the product lies in the back end, with highly flexible and customizable features to ensure the quality of people data over time. The front end of the product offers an intelligent type-ahead search box with an autocomplete function and an attractive layout for displaying people’s information. The product was well-received for its richness of features and attention to detail in its execution. Business value lies in the breadth and depth of tools available to encourage profile completion, resulting in more accurate directories.
The Key Takeaway
Clearbox reiterated that LiveTiles is a reputable vendor with well-established products, having gained expertise and knowledge through acquisitions. The report further remarks that LiveTiles platform provides a customizable collection of modules that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of businesses. The platform offers a wide range of functionality and is reasonably priced, making it an appealing option for large organizations.
And while the platform is being marketed for both small and large businesses, Clearbox believes the large and complex organizations that have a diverse employee base with wide-ranging needs for their digital workplace will benefit the most from LiveTile’s platforms. These organizations, especially those with many frontline workers, may find the mobile capabilities and cost-effectiveness of LiveTiles and its partners appealing. The partners have experience working with large global companies and can offer additional customization and integration services as needed.
Clearbox summarizes that overall, the LiveTiles platform provides a customizable collection of modules that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of businesses. The platform offers a wide range of functionality and is reasonably priced, making it an appealing option for large organizations.