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Rich Wood

Rich Wood has been planning, designing and building enterprise solutions for intranets, extranets, and public internet sites since 1997. Rich is the Director of Perficient's Web and Social Collaboration Practice (Microsoft), with a focus on the SharePoint and Sitecore platforms. He is a keen advocate for and frequent speaker/writer on information architecture, social business, user experience and web content management. Married and a father of four, Rich enjoys spending time with his wife and family. He is a native of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a graduate of Marquette University.

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Building Your SharePoint Intranet Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

risePerficient has today acquired Blue Rooster’s Rise Foundation product, a “UX as a Service” application for SharePoint (Online and On-Premises alike) that is basically a just-add-water intranet solution. The beautifully branded user interface, streamlined social and publishing features, and fully responsive design framework in the Rise Foundation package give organizations the ability to turn SharePoint into an engaging, accessible intranet portal with a minimum of the time and effort needed for a custom-developed solution. As you can imagine, we’re all pretty excited by this news.

Happily, I’m uniquely qualified to comment on the possibilities ahead for this product. At Microsoft’s Ignite conference this past May, I spent my time walking the floor researching various “boxed intranet” products for an article I later posted on CMSWire. At the time, I found the Rise UI to be friendlier than its competition, relying more on familiar website experiences and less on the “cutting edge”, Pinterest-flavored interfaces favored by other vendors (but not always by business users, who don’t like to be confused).

In the past few months, I’ve gotten to know the product much better. My initial confidence was buttressed first by a deep analysis a Perficient colleague performed on the technical back end—Rise cleaves closely to Microsoft’s Office 365 Patterns and Practices, a best-practice claim that not every such product can make. I was further impressed by the ability to further customize and build out desired functionality for our clients on top of Rise, if needed—a powerful value-add now that the weight of Perficient’s Microsoft delivery team is there to augment a first-class product development group.

On top of all of this, I’m personally thrilled to welcome the Rise team on board. I’ve known Blue Rooster for a very long time, and I can say with confidence that this move allows us all to work together to build on what was already some very exciting momentum. There’s no doubt that the future of SharePoint and intranet portals in general is one where products play at least as great a role as the services that support them, and I’m thrilled to say that Perficient now shares that view.

I’m looking forward to doing great things with Rise Foundation, SharePoint and our customers. Have questions? Drop me a line at or ping me on Twitter!

How (Microsoft) Mobile Apps Could Kill The Corporate Intranet

corporate intranet apps

In my latest post over at CMSWire, I’ve outlined a (very plausible) scenario whereby the groundswell of user preference for mobile form factors could– and perhaps, should– spell doom for the concept of the enterprise intranet.  This is “digital transformation” writ large for employee productivity.

Sound a bit loony, coming from someone who loves to envision, plan and build SharePoint intranets?  Possibly.  But in the scenario I’m discussing, SharePoint hardly goes away.  In fact, it serves as a back-end for many of the services users will be accessing via mobile apps on their iOS and Android– and yes, even Windows– tablets and phones.

It’s a heady mix of mobile’s engaging (even addictive) UX, service-oriented architecture, software as a service (cloud/SaaS), and forward-thinking embrace of technology and consumer trends.  And you can just about pull it off with today’s technology.

Curious?  Go check it out.

Four Microsoft Platforms and Products for Digital Transformation

When we talk about Digital Transformation, the first thing most people tend to think about is digital marketing—and that means consumer-facing technology. Your public website, how it’s delivered to various form factors, how you integrate an app strategy for B2C commerce or the engine driving your B2B transactions, how you track consumers’ interaction with you and interact with them, serving recommendations based on that tracking data… it’s all about the outside.

A lot of readers will ask why we’d talk about these topics on a Microsoft blog. It’s a darn good question—after all, Microsoft’s focus these past few years has, as ever, been firmly behind the proverbial firewall. Productivity and (and in) the enterprise is Microsoft’s sweet spot—not consumers—and that assessment remains true. Sort of. In point of fact, Microsoft technologies do a lot of heavy lifting in that space, even if Microsoft’s products there are less obvious.

Meanwhile, Digital Transformation taken as a whole is about more than just outreach and interaction. It’s about embracing new ways of working—working social, working mobile, powered by the cloud and not inhibited by archaic notions of a firewall—that’s how you enable your own users to move faster, work smarter, and just be more effective versions of themselves. And Microsoft is all about that. Let’s take a quick look at four key planks in the Microsoft stack that have a lot to say about how Redmond gets involved in the Digital Transformation conversation.


It all begins from the ground up, with the baseline infrastructure. Azure is Microsoft’s infrastructure in the cloud, allowing you to build server farms, develop and host business applications, and even migrate entire datacenters into a highly-available infrastructure living within Microsoft’s cloud. Whether you want to enable mobility and a broader reach, become more flexible and scalable in how you respond to business needs, or simply operationalize your hardware expenses, getting your servers out from behind your own firewall and into the Microsoft cloud is a good start.

Office 365 and Yammer

Enabling your own users to work faster and more effectively, communicating and collaborating across boundaries on devices as diverse as old Windows PCs and the latest version of iOS? That’s a concept at the core of Digital Transformation, and that’s what Office 365 and Yammer are all about.

Dynamics CRM

I read somewhere that another CRM-focused software company has “defined the customer journey”. I’d like to call shenanigans on that. Software doesn’t define anything; it supports and enables it. Dynamics CRM—integrated as it is with Yammer and Office 365, and far less expensive to license than its primary competition—can do a surprisingly thorough job of supporting and enabling how you interact with your customers. If you haven’t given it a hard look before, you might want to think about it now.


It’s not a Microsoft product, but Sitecore’s CMS, DMS and Customer Experience Platform are built on the .NET Framework, run on Microsoft infrastructure and are produced by last year’s Microsoft ISV Partner of the Year, so they’re about as close as you get without being shipped from Redmond. I’ve avoided writing about this in other outlets lately because third-party publishers always ask me to be objective, but the bottom line is, there’s not much point to doing a public-facing website on Microsoft’s platform with the likes of Ektron or Umbraco when Sitecore is available. Their many integrations—including with Dynamics AX, Microsoft’s ERP platform—and incredibly rich platform for digital marketing and customer experience (which enables things like email marketing, persona development and personalized content, and more) make them a no-brainer in reaching consumers in the digital age.

These four pillars are just the foundation of how Microsoft contributes to what we’re calling Digital Transformation. As ever, what you can build with .NET and Windows is only limited by your imagination—but now, both for your own internal users and your external consumers—they’ve got the goods to really go digital. If you should decide you want to move into that space with confidence, check out my colleague Michael Porter’s webinar on Wednesday, February 11.

Dream Team 2014: Connecting Salesforce and SharePoint

By now, it’s old news that Salesforce is connecting to files stored in Microsoft’s SharePoint Online service, the portals-and-collaboration piece of Office 365.  The official announcement may have been made this morning, but it hit the channel months ago and was unveiled with much fanfare when  it was previewed at Dreamforce 2014 this fall.  Since then, our Perficient team has been doing a lot of thinking about this integration, how and when to use it, and what it means.

Configuring Files Connect to Use Documents From SharePoint

One of the values of having award-winning national practices for both the Salesforce and Microsoft platforms is the chance to work with talented colleagues across technology stacks.  The result was this case study by Bob Graham, which gives a great overview of how we used Files Connect from Salesforce to access documents stored in SharePoint Online.  After collaborating with peers in our Salesforce team, Bob took the time to write this helpful piece up.  In it, he walks you through the steps he took to plan, connect, and ultimately leverage files stored in SharePoint within the Salesforce user experience.  It really is as easy as it looks.

The Greater Implications

“Okay, Perficient,” you might say now, “that’s how you make it work– but what does it mean?”  The obvious answer is the surprising amount of collaboration being shown between the direct actors engaged here– Microsoft and Salesforce– and that’s covered well over at TechCrunch.  It’s fascinating that of all the cloud-based file systems Salesforce could have partnered with for this, the first one in the line was actually Microsoft.

In a macro sense, it’s perfectly rational– the world is growing smaller and more connected, and the days of the one-vendor ecosystem are long dead.  Sure, Microsoft has a competing CRM platform (Dynamics) and Salesforce has its own portal solution (Communities), but as much as anything, this announcement is an acknowledgement that neither company is the market leader in those secondary spaces.  This is two giants connecting like to like– the dominant platforms for CRM and file-sharing, respectively– and making it easier for customers to choose best-of-breed cloud solutions over monolithic enterprise architectures focused on vendor rationalization.

That’s kind of a big deal, wouldn’t you say?

Could Yammer Supplant Your Intranet?

We see a lot of scenarios where clients are moving their intranets successfully to the Office 365 cloud with SharePoint Online.  This is the easiest, smoothest path to an social intranet on the Microsoft platform, due largely to the ever-closer relationship between Yammer and the rest of the services in Office 365.

That said,there are still plenty of enterprises out there who prefer to either keep their intranet on-premises, or not upgrade / migrate just yet.  Many of those organizations would still like to get their bang for the buck with Yammer, however, and need to figure out a solution for integrating those social features into their on-premises solution.

By far the most common way to accomplish this right now is through the use of the Yammer Embed functionality (or specifically for SharePoint, the Yammer app for SharePoint) to embed specific news feeds on specific sites.  This is easily the most obvious way to “socialize” an on-premises SharePoint intranet with Yammer.

That works, sure.  But it’s not all that elegant.  Too, if you’re using the Yammer app for SharePoint, this approach forces you to go in and update every Yammer feed when they update the app (which is a pain).

A more forward-thinking, less common but emerging approach to a social intranet is to actually use Yammer as the intranet home.

This is an example of truly embracing enterprise social and may require a complete rethink from a lot of organizations as to how they approach an intranet, but it’s the direction things seem to be going.  You make the social network your home, and instead of augmenting informational sites with social feeds, you augment social groups with links to informational sites using Pins and the Info window’s rich text / HTML editor feature.












Think about it.  Here at Perficient, we’re in the midst of rolling out a new platform for time tracking, financials, and other fun line-of-business activity and reporting.  We have both a Yammer group stood up to support that rollout, and a more traditional SharePoint intranet site.

What we’ve found in this scenario is that the Yammer feed has actually supplanted the informational site because it’s a much faster and more responsive way for people to get answers and collaborate.  Links embedded in the Yammer page direct users back to SharePoint for the informational / non-collaborative content they need, but the social discussion and interaction is now the focus.

Of course, Yammer in general resists (i.e., doesn’t allow) any but the most basic customization.  Fonts, styles, navigation etc., are all locked in “as is”.  The only thing you can really change in Yammer is the header atop your page.  That means we lose some control over branding, but gain quite a bit in interaction and employee engagement.  For this use case, it’s a smashing success.

The question then becomes, “Can this approach work for an entire intranet, and not just one use case?”

To some extent, that depends on the users.  At the end of the day, it all depends on where they go when they log on in the morning.  Email?  The intranet?  Or their social network?  Get the ball rolling with enterprise social and people will start skipping over the intranet– it’s almost a given.  Use social to surface intranet content and the line starts to blur… which is a lot closer to where things are going in the cloud than it is to a hodgepodge of on-prem intranet sites with embedded social feeds.

Enterprise Social and its Three Most Dangerous Myths

Enterprise social.  It’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread (The Beatles, frozen custard and computer-generated animation all make stronger cases for that title) but lately it seems like it’s close.  That said, for all of its growing popularity, our experience tells us that a good deal of what people believe about social networks– and how to get users engaged on them– is flat-out wrong.

sliced_breadAfter a summer so busy that I missed my July deadline, this morning I published a new article on CMSWire addressing three of enterprise social’s most dangerous myths head-on.  Check it out and learn why…

  • A single network might not be your best bet for adoption…
  • #ESN rollouts aren’t like any other new application, and…
  • Some users will simply never adopt them, no matter what you do.

Interested in continuing the conversation?  I’ll be unofficially representing Perficient (which cannot be held responsible for any comparisons I make between Yammer and Game of Thrones) in CMSWire’s upcoming TweetJam (yes, that’s a thing) on this month’s editorial focus “What does working like a network look like in practice?” The Tweet Jam will take place on Wednesday, August 20 at 1pm ET/ 10am PT.  You can find me on Twitter at @richOthewood; follow @CMSWire for TweetJam details and the #official #hashtag to follow.

Roundup: Enterprise Social ROI, External Governance in Yammer

It’s been a busy couple of weeks here at the office.  Besides hopping from LA to NYC to Chicago to work with various and sundry eye-catching clients, we’ve been turning out essays on a couple of hot topics:

  • Roundup: Enterprise Social ROI, External Governance in YammerROI (Return On Investment) as provided by Enterprise Social Networks
  • Governance in Yammer, specifically External Networks

In the first instance, we’ve got an article up over at CMSWire discussing the futility of using ROI as a case for investing in enterprise social.  The wiser course by far is to leverage one of the freemium networks available (and of course, I’m personally partial to Yammer– the best one out there) and let it build value within your organization first.  That basically makes the case for you.

The second piece covers Yammer directly, and specifically goes into the design of Usage Policies for Yammer’s External Networks.  These are a great tool for communicating and collaborating with clients, vendors and partners– so long as you design a binding Usage Policy with several key guidelines in mind.  In our post on ViewDo Labs’ enterprise social blog, we tell you what those guidelines are.

Curious?  I hope so!  Check out the latest and let us know what you think.

The Cloud Don’t Care About Your Grammar Police, Y’all

I’ve been seeing a lot of hubbub lately around the proper phrasing for applications an organization hosts itself– in other words, anything that isn’t in the cloud.  People are cringing when the phrase “on-premise” is used in lieu of the grammatically correct “on-premises”.  I’ve seen self-appointed grammar police weigh in from any number of directions– blogs, Yammer conversations, even an audience member shout-out during my presentation at SharePoint Conference 2014 earlier this spring.  And you know what?  None of it matters.

The Cloud Don't Care About Your Grammar Police Y'allLet me repeat: None of it matters.  The Cloud doesn’t care.

The bottom line is, people are having this conversation as an offshoot of something far more important– we are in the midst of an historic shift in application architecture.  The movement toward the Cloud is well-documented and I needn’t elaborate further on it, other than to say that it’s not “on its way” anymore– it is finally here, and here in a big way.

People can debate the use of “on-premise” versus “on-premises” all they like (or even the presence of that little hyphen in the middle) but the only reason they’re discussing it is this one: The market for it is shrinking.  The Cloud is increasingly becoming a part of how we do business in IT.  Eventually, it’ll pass a tipping point where we stop thinking of it as something separate and simply accept it as status quo.  Curiously, linguistics gives us a very close parallel to illustrate the point.

The English language evolves based on usage. It’s a living thing. That’s why terms like “ain’t” and “y’all” can now be found in even the most distinguished dictionaries and why, with continued (mis)use, “on-premise” will go from being colloquially accepted to formally official.   Much like the Cloud will go from where it is today– a more and more common means of hosting applications and data– to the ubiquitous status quo.  Stand down, then, all y’all grammar police.  You may as well try and stop the flow of time.

Yammer External Networks – Your Extranet Made Social

After meeting them at SharePoint Conference 2014, I recently accepted an invitation from ViewDo Labs to publish the occasional musing on their enterprise social blog. ViewDo is a company formed by the former Axceler braintrust to focus on enterprise social analytics, and they have a great and growing product already out there for Yammer.

This is a something I jumped at, because it’s a community blog featuring some of the people I personally read regularly; being included in their number is an honor.

My first post for them came out yesterday, and is focused on a familiar topic: Yammer External Networks. This introductory post makes the same case I’m making in a webinar this afternoon– that Yammer External networks (I’m torn on whether or not to call them “YEN”) elevate the formerly staid concept of the Extranet into a social, more truly collaborative space. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Microsoft’s Roadmap for Social: Detailed Analysis from SPC14

“Work like a network.”  Spend just a few minutes at SharePoint Conference 2014 and you’re bound to hear or see this phrase sooner than later. It’s here in the keynote and it’s here in the signage.  It’s here on the lips of the Yammer and Social product marketing people I had the good fortune to spend some time with early Monday afternoon, and it was here loud and clear in the jam-packed session on Microsoft’s Roadmap for Enterprise Social later that same day.  It’s central to the short-term improvements that answer questions about Yammer and SharePoint, and even more central to new investments that Microsoft calls Inline Social, Groups and Office Graph—already the darling of Day One.

Microsoft’s Roadmap for Social: Detailed Analysis from SPC14What does it mean?  It means leveraging the power of enterprise social tools to actually behave in connected ways, and get value out of it.  The presenters, Christophe Fiessinger and Juliet Wei, made it very clear that while Microsoft still believes the best pure social experience is Yammer in the browser—they called it the “hero” version of social—that the future of work is social, and the future of social is in its ability to socially connect people within and around the documents, data and applications they care about.  Much of the message here was focused on enterprise tools better reflecting what is available to people in the consumer market—a message stressed here in this space just last month.

This was the core message of the Roadmap presented on Monday at SPC2014. While it’s an ambitious one, it must be said that Microsoft’s track record of hitting their enterprise social goals since the Yammer acquisition nearly two years ago has been a very solid one.  Though many questions have been asked, when they’ve said they will deliver something by a certain date, they’ve done it—and now they’re starting to answer those questions.

Some of those answers were addressed on Monday, along with three core innovation tracks that go beyond the SharePoint-heavy tone of those early concerns.  Those three tracks— “Inline Social”, “Groups”, and “Office Graph”—position Microsoft’s approach to Enterprise Social as something that includes SharePoint but extends well beyond it.

To analyze the Roadmap, then, let’s take a look at the short term items, the implications for the present—the questions people have been asking almost since the Yammer acquisition—and then take a look toward the far more interesting items promised, and in many cases demoed, for the near future.  That’s where the tools really begin to make “working like a network” look like an achievable dream.

What’s Coming Just Around the Corner…

One might as well call the short-term Roadmap items the SharePoint roadmap items.  It’s been a common fallacy for people in the SharePoint world (and beyond) to look at Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer as a simple one-for-one swap with the old SharePoint social features, but they’ve been clear for over a year now that this sort of view is limited and more than slightly reductionist. (more…)