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IntraTeam Conference 2014 – Day 3

Last day in Copenhagen.

A roadmap for the digital workplace

I had the first speaking slot and talked about the need to move digital workplace strategy away from a technology landscape focus, and more towards thinking about a set values for how you enable employees to be productive first. I included a walk through of the Digital Workplace Manifesto (or slideshare version) (as well as movies!).

Bjoern Boeller @knalleffekt –  Swiss Mobiliar

How to create a joyful (mobile) intranet experience or how to improve the User Experience (UX) through User-Centered Design

Unfortunately I missed the start of this talk so will quote the tweeters:

Impressive 60% of users personalise their homepage at Swiss mobilier @knalleffekt #IEC14 to get direct access to the apps they use most! @ninanikolaisen

Swiss Mobiliar developed their app with a big focus on user experience – even more important for mobile/small screens #IEC14 @knalleffekt Louise McGregor @changememe

Killer features of mobile intranet app: white pages, corp news, office locations, says @knalleffekt Marcin Monko @MarcinMonko

User Experience is vital. Do a paper prototype that is on paper the size of a mobile phone, so you get the sense of holding it in your hand. UXPin will take a paper prototype and generate a wireframe from it.

The mobile intranet does not need to be a native app. Swiss Mobilier measures user satisfaction and found that scores for a web app were actually higher across 77 employees than for a native app. Some things are simpler – for example you don’t need to build a back button because it is part of the browser. Apple, Google etc. each have their own design patterns, so important to be aware of these. In practice though, Bjorn found that for web apps, good usability results on the iOS prototype lead to very similar results using the same design on other devices.

Security: you can use two-factor security, but it is clumsy. ‘Trusted device’ as an approach is easier for the user. This is certificate-based and requires a one-time installation with a 6-digit passcode.

Springboard (panel of buttons) vs tab navigation (buttons at bottom). People said they preferred tab navigation as it presents fewer options. Personalisation enhances it further because not all options are relevant to all staff.

Training: Quick tutorials built into the app work best. Either a ‘chalkover’ layer on the interface when it starts, or a gallery of ‘things you can do’ (like the Evernote app).

Content: Not all your content needs to be available… but your users expect it. Responsive web design is the only practical way to address this, feels Bjorn.


Liz McNamara, Yara – from requirements to functionality in SharePoint 2013

“I thought the hard part was getting to launch, but I’ve learned the real work starts now we’ve gone live.”

Working with business stakeholders, Liz established four areas of focus for their intranet strategy:

  • Strategic alignment;
  • Knowledge sharing;
  • Increased efficiency;
  • Engagement & culture.

Even Yara’s homepage is designed around fulfilling these four goals, with sections for news, collaboration, and a portal to other services etc. The goals weren’t quantified and no hard ROI asked for, but given it was driven by the business (via workshops and post-it notes) then the business case was clear. Yara makes fertiliser and their tagline is ‘Knowledge Grows’, so knowledge sharing is naturally a big factor.

Yara have an elegant approach to news personalisation, with a single aggregate column pulling out news by metadata tag. It’s driven by HR data and there were teething problems with people-data accuracy.  People in the USA weren’t getting any news due to one system saying ‘USA’ and another saying ‘U.S.A.’. “Its a small nightmare but a big thing to the people experiencing it” commented Liz.

Another personalisation element is a ‘worker view’ on departments. So if you go to ‘Communications’ as an employee you get ‘These are the services we offer you’. But if you go as a member of the Communications department you get the insider’s view. There’s a side button ‘Switch to visitors view / switch to worker view’. Yara still learning if this approach works.

 Do differently next time?

  • Leave the old intranet live for longer to get the content right before switch-over;
  • Ensure there’s a live pre-production environment to train content owners on, and let them get their content right before launch;
  • I’d plan whole communication and adoption piece from the very start. Not every decision needs to be up for discussion, but good to inform the organisation why you’re doing it this way.

Adoption – was very very challenging. 10,000 people, 50 countries. No budget for classroom training, even though you do need to sit down with some people. Did videos, eLearning etc. but it would have been good to have more intranet champions.

Liz McNamara

 Shel Holtz @shelholtz – The Mobil(ity) Intranet

How to get your intranet fit for mobile. There are more people who own phones than toothbrushes in the world! Instant gratification: 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of arriving. Wouldn’t you love to say that about your emails?

It’s OK if you’re in the field and know where the thing is that you need, but really, for a great app, you need to think through how people are going to use the app in real scenarios.

Russ McGuire’s Law of mobility: The value of any product or service increase with its mobility

Think about music – OK as LPs, good with a walkman, great with a smartphone.

Mobile also alters the conditions under which products and services can be used. Shel worked with Pepsi in places like bottling plants. Plant workers complained they still had to do safety checks with paper forms and then re-key it in the office.

screenshot_239Check out pepsicotogo.com – aimed at Pepsico employees. It is a long way from the corporate intranet. It includes ‘Pour Locations’ to help you find restaurants that will serve Pepsi and not other drink brands.  Much of it is open – in fact many intranet stories come with Facebook and Twitter share buttons to encourage employees to be brand ambassadors.

But when Shel asked plant workers if they’d used the mobile app they said ‘No – for the same reason we don’t use the little kiosks they gave us: the corporate news isn’t relevant to us. We want to know about what’s happening in the plant’. But, if they could subscribe to an SMS about plant events, they said they’d join in a heartbeat.

Four constraints of mobility

  1. Digital – bandwidth, power, screen size, speed;
  2. Physical – comfort, space to work;
  3. Social;
  4. Relevance.

Altimeter Group said there are three roles you need to worry about:

  • Information worker;
  • Field/Sales;
  • Executive.

But this misses out the frontline worker like Pepsico’s. Shel’s work reveals that people are working out on their own how to use such devices to be more productive, even though often there are policies prohibiting phone use. For example, they create a WhatsApp group to let the team stay in touch. Some companies are even jamming signals in factories to stop employees using their phones. Policies simply don’t match reality or the strength of the business case.

“The intranet is the worse thing to ever happen to employee communications” – Ron Shewchuk
At least with the magazine there was no information haves and have-nots.

What we learned from a Pepsico audit:

  • Almost nobody is without a smartphone;
  • 40% had tablets. Tablets are far less mobile – they tend to stay in one location;
  • 60% use SMS weekly to do their jobs;
  • 45% use mobile apps to do their jobs (even if unofficial);
  • Employees use mobile for things like comms with off-shift staff and photography of damaged equipment or inventory.

BYOD is not a corporate initiative, it is a movement, whether you like it or not.

Don’t think mobile intranet, think mobility. 

Finally, Shel showed Coca-Cola Enterprises iConnect mobile video too (YouTube).

Shel Holtz


Final thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed this event. Standout talks for me included:

I first talked about the Digital Workplace at IntraTeam in 2011. It’s gratifying to see how people’s adoption of the concept has moved on, and whilst we’re early days in tacking the challenge, there’s definitely an emerging common understanding. After some slow take-up of mobile in practice (as Jane’s work reflects), we’re now seeing some excellent intranet examples emerging (including Dave Shepherd’s talk at Barclays Bank that I regret not being able to join, but which generated a real buzz).

Fundamentally though, what strikes me with the best case studies is that we’re just seeing really solid executions that are managing to get all the basics right: driven by both business priority and employee needs, enjoyable to use and with strong focus on adoption. Here Lundbeck, Yara, ING and PwC all illustrated that, with CCE and Nat Geo elsewhere also showing the same.  After 20 years, intranet practice is growing up!

IntraTeam continues to be one of the best gatherings in the intranet calendar, combining a strong sense of community, excellent topics and a well-paced agenda. I didn’t go to one dud talk or feel I was sitting through a sales pitch – my main dilemma was missing out on other great talks in parallel tracks.  The level of knowledge across the delegates too was notably high, leading to some fantastic breakout conversations. It’s a lot to absorb, but also a lot of fun. If you’ve never been I definitely recommend it. I also recommend booking the next day off.

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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