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IntraTeam Conference Day 2: What’s Happening in Intranets and the Digital Workplace

IntraTeam Conference Day 2: What’s Happening in Intranets and the Digital Workplace

This is part 2 of a day-by-day blog of Intrateam 2012

See also: Day 1, Day 3

Tony Byrne – Latest Trends in Collaboration and Social Computing Within Larger Enterprises

Tony (@TonyByrne) of the Real Story Group (RSG) began by saying: If you throw in blogs, wikis etc. at the organisation and people don’t use them, it’s not an adoption problem, it’s a technology strategy problem; you haven’t given employees anything aimed at solving their problems. So it can be misleading to do a feature by feature comparison of, say, SharePoint vs. something else. Your approach should be more about fulfilling specific use cases, and out-of-the-box SharePoint doesn’t really help you here. For example SharePoint has no native notion of communities.

man looks in mirror and sees online proifileSo if you use SharePoint you have 3 options:

  • Extend – develop new software and risk upgrade headaches
  • Supplement – 3rd party tool like Newsgator. Again upgrade risks
  • Complement – something on the side with perhaps data exchange. e.g. Jive
  • …or wait for the next version. But we wont’ know much about what it does until late this year and probably you wouldn’t deploy until well into 2013

Tony was refreshingly clear on what collaboration is really about. He described ‘Networking’ as interacting where the relationships are an end in itself, whereas ‘Collaborating’ is when there’s something produced at the end. He feels that networking emerges from collaboration and not the other way (as Enterprise 2.0 may argue). i.e. Networks are a side effect of working together. It also helps to be able to talk about collaboration projects rather than social ones from a business acceptability point of view.

RSG see the biggest opportunities for collaboration in R&D, Marketing and Sales and Customer Service; less so for Finance, HR or Supply Chain.

Tony also commented on “Traditional Knowledge Management” vs. “Community Facilitation”. I can’t help feeling that traditional KM was never as rigid as it is being portrayed in hindsight. After all, Communities of Practice was a major poster child of old KM.

He had a great shot about getting people to fill in profiles at Yum! (Jive case study) – when people stand at the washroom basin, their reflection appears like an online profile (see photo).

Jim Ylisela (Again) – Making the Business Case for a lively intranet

Jim (@jpyjr) coming at it from a comms point of view. He opened with: Can you imagine the day when people keep coming back to your intranet because they’re afraid they might miss something?

Your content needs to merge the needs of the CEO and the employee to be effective. Too much top-down and all the good words companies use about “innovative, openness, diversity” fall flat with the reality of how the comms come across.

Why intranets fail:

  • Communicators don’t talk with IT early enough…or at all
  • Too often they seem content to  leave it to IT to re-design the intranet, but IT have their own set of goals that probably don’t align with Comms unless you sit down and talk
  • Communicators don’t do enough audience research
  • Communicators don’t find a strong executive sponsor to push for change

Jim’s tips:

  • Find some early adopters to lead the way
  • Get your exec sponsor (and others) to show everyone its OK (more on this in my “Loving the Intranet” talk tomorrow)
  • One org teased employees to fill in their profile. They put up the “no photo” picture and said “Do you think this person: Lacks the skills? Doesn’t want to talk to you? Lacks Confidence? Or really looks like this?”
  • Don’t use the words “Social”, “Media” or any combination of the two when talking to executives

Most WalMart employees go to their intranet from home. There’s some social on there, but mostly they talk about their work and the stores.

At GM one employee saw a customer in the car behind at a drive-thru food place. As a random act of kindness he paid for her mail just to see the smile on her face. He then posted this on GM’s internal discussion board and the idea really took off.

Jeff Willinger – “What’s in it for me?” User Adoption – Making SharePoint Sexy

Jeff (@jwillie) got us dancing to Katy Perry (no, really!). Social intranets, he vividly explained,  are a bit like sex as a teenager – it sounds exciting but nobody really knows what they’re doing.

5 best practices for Employee Engagement:

  • Employee recognition
  • Social computing
  • Targeted content
  • Rich media
  • Search

He went on to talk about some best practices:

  • REALLY listen to user needs up-front
  • Governance from Day 1 matters to ensure the solution is aligned with culture
  • Don’t customise when you can configure
  • Just cutting down on the number of clicks goes a long way to helping user adoption
You can think of this as “Digital traction”. The business context, human context, technology context need to come together.
New Balance have a page-per-shoe approach and a design that is very iPad-like, for example, and this fits their youthful employee base.
Quick plug: I’m speaking on Employee Adoption tomorrow: see Loving the Intranet for a sneak preview.
[Apologies that this is a slightly truncated account – I’m afraid those of you that have to write conference reports for work will have to fill in the blanks!]
See also: Day 1Day 3
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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