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IntraTeam Conference 2014 – Day 2

IntraTeam Conference 2014 – Day 2

[frame] Free eBook to download: 10 ways to improve your intranet content [/frame]

Day Two of the IntraTeam 2014 conference, another fine spring day in Copenhagen.

Jane McConnell @netjmc from NetJMC with Nina Sonne Nikolaisen @ninanikolaisen (COWI)

Digital Workplace Trends 2014

Jane McConnellJane presented the latest results from her annual Digital Workplace survey . This year there is a new scorecard element and richer focus on the organisational change angle (I had the privilege of being on the advisory board last year and it was great to see how the model evolved). Some organisations did the survey as a team, and found it useful as a self-assessment to go through the questions. If you take part in the survey you get an individual set of scores; a unique way to go beyond opinions and use data on the leading companies’ digital workplaces (DW) to compare.

Mindset = Leadership + Culture + viewing the DW as an asset. It is perhaps the biggest challenge for digital workplaces. Some of it is management, but also the leadership styles of IT and HR. Is it open or command and control? What seems to happen is that structure change comes first, with mindset shift coming later. Nina gave the example of companies forming communities initially and then that gradually changing how people work.

A new chapter in the survey is about ‘Working out loud‘ – sharing your work as you go rather than waiting until it is finished.

People are more empowered in the DW than five years ago. Enterprise social networks are now in 40% of organisations, a five-fold growth compared to 2008. Mobile has been very slow taking off. Mobile services will reach 30-40% by late 2014. There’s been a lot of hype and lack of reality about how hard mobile is, but finally people are getting down to implementing it.

For early adopters, increasing organisational intelligence was the number 1 driver to implement DW. For the majority of organisations though, the primary driver was efficiency and cost-effectiveness. It’s likely that for the majority, the focus is on tools, and that the ROI case is clearer. Early adopters have high-level enterprise initiatives to hook into like ‘Work together’, ‘New ways of working’ etc. Early adopters are more team-oriented, have freedom to experiment, learn from their mistakes, and have more open information systems. Which comes first? The culture driving the DW or the change in DW enabling the culture shift? Unfortunately we can’t tell from the data [and probably, they go hand-in-hand].

Public organisations came last as an industry in terms of overall Digital Workplace development.

So is there business impact from having a strong DW? The survey asked:

How flexible is your organisation when you need to react rapidly to major events?

  • 54% Early adopters said Flexible or Very Flexible, vs 20% for the majority.

How confident are you that your organisation can retain knowledge when experts retire?

  • 40% Early adopters said confident, vs 7% in majority.

Final thought: Recognition that knowledge is important in organisations seems to be growing again, but more with an emphasis on people-to-people than ‘Knowledge Management’ in the knowledge-base sense.


Phil Mennie @philmennie – PwC’s Enterprise social network

PwC’s enterprise social network (ESN) called ‘Spark’. They use the Cathedral and the Bazaar analogy for formal knowledge vs social sharing. Imagine the cathedral in the middle but lots of free-market trading expanding around it.

Drivers were:

  • Growth and delivering value – channel power of PwC to issues facing clients;
  • People engagement – average age at PwC is 27, and they’re finding new joiners are expecting a digital workplace;
  • Client engagement (later phase) – external partners, alumni networks too.

Approach [good mantras for any digital workplace!]:

  • Buy not build, configure not customise;
  • Go where the energy is;
  • Move fast – experiment, listen, learn, and iterate.

Built around ’90 day sprints’. Made sure community was populated and had discussions in it before launch. Talked about waves rather than pilots – the word ‘pilot’ says to us ‘yeah… this might not work’.  Adoption in UK is 98.6% and done without closing existing intranet (lots of links to systems). Some territories elsewhere in world have closed their intranets entirely, saving $1M in infrastructure costs. In Germany it’s 26.7%, and they haven’t even launched yet – pure viral interest!

It wasn’t all plain sailing…

There was some resistance. They worked with people to find out what was wrong with the platform and improve things, turning critics into advocates. Risk and Compliance guys are good examples.

“We didn’t try to change our culture – we like our culture – we found an approach that fits it.”

PwC had 1200 advocates. Gave out pin badges with ‘Ask me about Spark‘. Role is to explain to their peers what the value of Spark is. For more senior people, used reverse-mentoring to help them feel at ease with social approaches. To become an advocate you just join the advocate group and get access to presentations etc, no attempt to control this.  Competitions like ‘Advocate of the Month’ (“you’ve no idea how passionate people were about winning their badge!”).

The Spark ESN improves how work gets done:

  • Taking the pain out of creating proposals. One team halves the time to do a proposal, and saw an 80% reduction in version control issues;
  • Market insights;
  • Sharing new ideas for service offerings (without depending just on your line manager);
  • Plugging new starters into PwC network more quickly.

One tax manager in Russia asked a tax question about what happens in other countries on Friday and got 23 replies from 17 different countries. Without the network she might have sent an email, and may not have had a response. Now she has both answers and new contacts.

Final thought: they don’t stop people creating groups. They have a David Hasselhoff appreciation group, and to PwC that’s fine.

Lunch Roundtables – Is hierarchy still needed in a  digital workplace?

I had a fascinating discussion around this one but sadly all too brief to reach a conclusion. The feeling was that hierarchy will decline in importance, and from an employee point of view it is desirable to elect a leader rather than have it thrust upon you, but some kind of hierarchy is inevitable with scale. I feel we need to pull apart problems that are inevitable with hierarchy vs. things that are just bad management practice.

Stacy Wilson @stacylwilson Eloquor – Creating a better intranet news experience in SharePoint

What do you want from your SharePoint news? For some it is a more social element, for others it is the ability to determine ‘must know’ from ‘nice to know’ news. Still, many companies in the room said they were relying on email for frontline employees (e.g. via a shop manager).

What’s notable is that outside of work, most people will consume news in a different way. In Europe the dominant form is still television. But 51% use social networks 2-3 times a month. In US majority of people get news through at least one digital device, 23% on at least two.

What makes a great news experience?

  1. One space – news is news is news;
  2. Organised by topics;
  3. Custom search with filtering;
  4. Super easy subscription/notifications (but note, most people won’t subscribe, but for those that do its great).

Stacy sees these as nice to have*:

  • User ratings – crowdsource best content;
  • Targeted delivery by profile (but not many organisations have clean enough people-data);
  • Dialogue (comments);
  • Promoted stories;
  • Workflow to review and approve content;
  • Visuals and multimedia.

[*my own feeling is that  many of these should be essential for great news, especially dialog, visuals and promoted stories; targeting in larger organisations too]

News to Filter (e.g. by tabs): ‘People’ stories from business stories;
News to target: Location, work level and function or department – largely because your people-data is usually best on these;
Mobile: we tend to use mobile phones with one hand but tablets with two, so that’s one reason to design differently for each.

Stacy showed some good news page examples, though sadly they were based on a third-party add on rather than SharePoint out-of-the-box.

Frank Hatzack @frankhatzack – Crowd Driven Innovation @Novozymes

Frank talked about their approach to crowsdourcing, done on a smaller scale than many of the headline examples. Novozymes uses a mash-up of video conferencing technologies to bring together a core group of around 20 experts to answer a specific question in a 90 minute session. They then use an ideation tool for three rounds of gathering suggestions and refining. The output is usually 30 ideas with comments. After this, a larger group of around 150 come together online to discuss. The idea of using the core group first is to create enough material to catalyse the larger discussion. Use simple ideation tool called nosco.

Success Factors

  • Company culture – innovation and willingness to share, because there’s no financial reward (but there is a social recognition boost);
  • Diversity of the participants is essential;
  • Absorptive capacity of the team tasked with screening the output;
  • Intellectually compelling challenge < motivates people to join without extrinsic reward;
  • Emotionally engaging challenge  < ditto;
  • Ideas that can be expressed simply;
  • Great ideas need landing gear as well as wings;
  • Good moderation – thanking people, encouraging comments etc. They need to act in the real world too by nudging people in the canteeen to log-on;
  • Encourage creativity over wisdom. The proof comes after the event in a filtering step;
  • Debrief the crowd after the event.

Many companies have a serious disconnect between what they say their culture is and what people do when their boss isn’t around. But you need to know the reality for crowdsourcing to work.

Novozymes were given a list of 30 problems by a consumer goods company. Initially it looked like only three could be addressed with their technology. But rather than saying this, they put the list to a crowd of 200 and got a great response on other problems that they might be able to address.

Final nugget of the day:

There is a long-tail of innovators. People who rarely contribute to the ongoing suggestions tended to be the ones that come up with winning ideas in the campaigns. So the real appeal of this approach is that it reaches the people who are quiet but have great ideas. Often the people remote from head office give most.

Frank Hatzack

Sam Marshall

I'm the director of ClearBox Consulting, advising on intranet and digital workplace strategy, SharePoint and online collaboration. I've specialised in intranets and knowledge Management for over 19 years, working with organisations such as Unilever, Astra Zeneca, Akzo Nobel, Sony, Rio Tinto and Diageo. I was responsible for Unilever’s Global Portal Implementation, overseeing the roll-out of over 700 online communities to 90,000 people and consolidating several thousand intranets into a single system.

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