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Mobile and Social Intranets – IntraTeam 2012 Day 3

Mobile and Social Intranets – IntraTeam 2012 Day 3

Day 3 from the IntraTeam Conference

See also: Day 1Day 2


Sharon O’Dea – Mobile Intranet at UK Parliament

Sharon O'Dea speaking at IntraTeam 2012Sharon (@sharonodea) wins my vote for the most entertaining session. She talked about the challenges of being an intranet manager in the unusual world of a near 1000-year old organisation. When she started there was an old intranet, but with elections coming and a new influx of younger, novice MPs,  they needed a better way to support them.

They couldn’t do user research because their users hadn’t been elected yet. Go-live date was non-negotiable, it had to be election day.  The good thing was that there was a clear induction event that they could use for launch.

They decided that mobile had lots of potential. MPs have their own phone, so needed to support all 3 main platforms (but there was a clear pattern of: iPhone – Labour, Blackberry – Conservative, Android – Liberals).   70% of budget went into making the Blackberry version work.

Top sections of the mobile version include

  • Alert when they need to go into the house to vote
  • News feeds
  • What’s on calendar
  • Map of how to get around parliament
  • Key Facts content written especially for mobile
  • Help pages – turned out wasn’t needed
  • Canteen menu (there are 19 bars & restaurants on-site and this is the most popular page)
It turned out that the map wasn’t so successful, despite working well technically. For security the map quality had to be downgraded. Moreover, there are so many police around that it is easy to get directions long before you get a phone out.
By making the intranet available in a way that suited members, 75% said they checked the intranet every day (compared to around 40% with the old intranet).
Next step is to develop a tablet version which supports annotation and more content interaction, rather than just looking things up as is the case for typical mobile use.

Oscar Berg – Why Traditional Intranets Fail Today’s Knowledge Workers

@oscarberg began this talk as a blog post 2 years ago and its had more hits than any other. He argues that fixing the intranet needs to look outside the intranet and rethink our attitude to work itself. It matters as we outsource more of the structure-based work overseas and keep more of the knowledge work.

He argues that intranets traditionally have focussed only on structured work, not knowledge work. From a long tail perspective, they focus only on the most common and predictable tasks. It used to be that serving the long tail wasn’t cost effective, but social and consumer IT have flattened the cost [think about Amazon vs. a traditional book shop’s stock]. We need to stop thinking of the intranet as a destination, and more something that follows you as you work [and Sharon’s talk above was a great illustration of that]. One implication of the long tail is we risk bloating content by hanging on to files that meet niche needs. Oscar’s advice is to focus instead on reducing duplication and redundancy.

Traditional collaboration is about act /co-ordinate /form team. Social collaboration is connecting, relating, sharing and contributing, but the challenge is that these have low visibility. However, teams will fail if we don’t support it. For one thing we need networks as filters to avoid information overload.

Griet Johannsen – Shell Wiki

Shell won a “Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise” award for being a learning organisation. Real, current, success stories for enterprise wikis are pretty rare so I was keen to hear how it works at Shell.

They use Mediawiki and keep the homepage simple to focus on content quality. They encourage few visuals. True to the wiki spirit, anyone can make changes to any page. Overcoming a ‘content control’ mindset was a challenge in first 2 years. A good thing about MediaWiki is that it looks like Wikipedia, so it’s familiar. The downside is that the editor is complex.

The wiki is positioned as an internal encyclopaedia. There are 90,000 users of which 5,500 publish, mostly without having a formal role to do this. Over 44,000 articles have been created.  To avoid duplication, you have to run a search first and from that create a page when there’s no hits. But still there’s a risk of pages created around synonyms, so content custodians are still needed for ‘gardening’.

A strong feature is that content is organised by subject, not organisation structure. The rule is not to re-create anything that exists outside the wiki. It took several years for people to develop a sense of what was appropriate for the wiki vs. SharePoint, records management etc.

A good example of the approach is that they took a Production Chemistry course and turned it from Powerpoint to wiki pages. It was designed for 50 students, but a further 4000 employees also accessed the material. At the start, they had 10 people who could lend central support. When they took this away usage dropped quite suddenly. The support team has now been re-introduced.

Despite this success story, Shell faces many issues shared by the rest of us – such as competition from SharePoint and Confluence wikis within the organisation.

Sam Marshall – Loving the Intranet

This was my slot about intranet and digital workplace adoption. Slides on SlideShare

End of the Conference

Mark Morrell(Digital Workplace) and Jesper Lauridsen (feeding LinkedIn into profiles at Lundbeck) wrapped things up, but sadly I had to run for a flight.

It was another excellent event laid on by Kurt and the team. Highly recommended as an event with a strong community feel and high-quality discussions.

See also: Day 1Day 2




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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