IntraTeam Event Copenhagen (#IntraTeam19 on Twitter) is a big, multi-stream intranet and digital workplace conference held every year by IntraTeam and run by Kurt Kragh Sørensen. The first time I attended, it was career changing.
This year’s conference felt very international, with Scandinavian, Canadian, American, and British speakers. I saw a lot of my peers and friends on stage, often because Kurt had seen them talk at my Intranet Now conference!
Kurt opened the first day of the conference (workshops were the day before) by taking us through some results from the ongoing IntraTeam digital workplace survey.
His conclusions mirror what I think the conference espoused overall:
- Personalisation works
- Office 365 with SharePoint Online is worth considering
- There’s an increase in intranet and search investment
- Search can still be improved
- Have a strategy that appeals to top management
- Involve colleagues in developing the intranet.
Additionally, I think there was a lot of sense talked around navigation as a primary purpose of the intranet (however you define it). People want to quickly get to what they need, and this is about useful navigation menus more than putting 150 links on the home page. To this end, navigation of all kinds needs to be based on people’s expectations, rather than the publishers’ whims.
I did not see a presentation about content, but IntraTeam is a multi-stream event and so everyone has a different experience of the agenda. That said, here’s a few of the topics I enjoyed.
Neil Barnett: Experience mapping at Heathrow
Heathrow needed to transform its digital workplace to suit employees, and did a hardware refresh programme, improved the WiFi, and encouraged anywhere access to Office 365 and SharePoint Online via BYOD (bring your own device) to ensure people had access how and where they liked.
To design the digital workplace around people, they invested a great deal in planning and research. Neil Barnett explained they focused on:
- Emotional drivers – what got people out of bed and motivated them in work
- Sentiment – how people feel throughout the work day
- Interactions – how and where people interact with others, and their networks
- Pain points – what stops people doing a good job every day.
Through focus groups and further research, they came to understand a person’s timeline through the day. They paid particular attention to friction points.
To support adoption, they:
- Held one-hour laptop handover sessions to show people how to use the digital workplace
- Upskilled 140 digital mentors across the business
- Empowered 45 content publishers
- Created a 15-person steering group
- Created a great deal of printed material to support the communications and upskilling campaigns.
Further, they worked to make the intranet a great experience on mobile (using SharePoint Online). Mobile is crucial when there are so many non-office workers.
A significant challenge (or valuable matter) was training content publishers to be ‘mobile first’. Content publishers manage formal content and, as office workers, had a desktop centric view of writing and reading content. Monthly meetings emphasise the mobile employee experience; tone of voice and governance are often discussed.
My best takeaways: Invest in the mobile look and UX, invest in mobile-first content.
My questions: Was it bespoke design or an intranet product? How long can a person remain logged in when using a mobile browser? Is the mobile intranet also great inside the SharePoint mobile app?
Although I’ve seen Neil present Heathrow’s digital workplace a couple of times, it’s clear that thought and investment is ongoing. I was glad to meet Neil over an evening meal, and I can imagine the type of leader he is, as I found his energy and good humour to be infectious.
Richard Harbridge: Intranets in the cloud
Richard Harbridge of 2ToLead gave a run-down of far too many SharePoint Online things, but he confirmed what we all like to say, which is that navigation is the number one purpose of the intranet.
To this end, Microsoft is releasing megamenus for hub sites that will help you build consistent navigation menus (using the site link bar) across some of your intranet. To provide truly global navigation, you still have to do custom development, says Richard (or purchase an intranet product).
Richard suggests that a small organisation, perhaps 300 people or fewer, could build a good intranet with hub site navigation. Larger organisations will need multiple hub sites and custom navigation. Megamenus, he notes, are really simple.
Using global navigation, hub site navigation, and site navigation menus could mean that a person is offered two (or even three) horizontal menus. Richard thinks this is fine, but my MD, Sam Marshall, considers this an unusual design pattern.
Richard is a fan of the SharePoint ‘home’ page as a start page, yet so few people know of its existence. The left-hand menu of the ‘home’ page is dynamically created based on your personal behaviour, so it’s really useful when you want to get back to a recent, or favourite, site / document.
While Richard does not want to stop people creating new sites, he strongly suggests that direct site creation in SharePoint should be hidden, and the ‘create new site’ button should direct people to a form. This form will ensure that site duplication is reduced and that the appropriate metadata is used (e.g. you department, product, topic, etc.). The right metadata can automatically help provide the right type / design of new site.
Remember that SharePoint uses three levels of permissions for document creation / editing (visitors, members, and owners) while Microsoft Teams and sites created via Microsoft Teams has shared ownership – every Team member can edit documents.
The waffle icon and the app launcher
Richard says that organisations ignore the waffle icon (top-left of SharePoint / Office 365) and people don’t use the amazing app launcher.
Sometime soon in 2019, ‘Microsoft Search’ will appear within Office 365 apps – it is different to ‘SharePoint Search’.
Loving the SharePoint mobile app
Everyone wants aggregated / unified notifications from their intranet – the SharePoint app puts notifications directly into your normal notification centre! This is what people want, but very few organisations promote the SharePoint mobile app, I find.
My best takeaways: The cloud is definitely cheaper than on-premises; use SharePoint Online (Office 365) to get new features, faster, without the huge expense of upgrading your tech every three or six years.
My questions: How much time will be needed for established intranets to be revamped to take advantage of hub sites, and hub site menus?
Richard does very well on Twitter, and I’m glad to have seen him in real-life now.
Lena Hildeberg: Digital workplace at Bonnier Broadcasting
Bonnier Broadcasting is being bought / has been bought by Telia, so you can imagine what staff want and need from their intranet and communications right now.
They Episerver for their intranet, but also SharePoint Online as the collaboration portal, says Lena Hildeberg, and Workday is coming.
Because there are two major platforms (Episerver and SharePoint), search is not universal… To help people search twice, they provide a button to quickly repeat the search in the other platform.
They have a great deal of news on Episerver – the home page looks different every day. Also, everyone can blog via Episerver.
It’s possible to tick a box and have your intranet news automatically published to the external website. I have to assume that there are a limited number of well-trained publishers who have permission to do this!
It’s easy to have news items posted directly to Slack too.
My best takeaway: Lots of news can totally work for an organisation working within a fast-moving (and interesting!) landscape.
My question: Is Episerver seen as a ‘best of breed’ (to quote) intranet only because it is used for Bonnier’s external website?
Lena says “no”, Episerver is a part of the ‘best of breed’ digital workplace tools because of its social and publishing capabilities.
Gillian McCann: From digital workplace to intelligent workplace
Gillian McCann of Workgrid explained the stress and loss of productivity employees suffer when dealing with so many systems every day.
Workgrid is an ‘intelligent’ solution, made up of several helper tools:
- Intranet toolbar – ever present left-left-hand menu. Slide out panes to add functionality
- Mobile app
- Desktop notifier
The intelligent conversational UI isn’t just about aggregating notifications from multiple systems, it’s about taking complex, natural-language instructions – such as “clear my calendar for tomorrow”.
Gillian notes that people’s search habits are changing. We’re moving away from keywords, and using more queries, such as ‘who is’, ‘where is’, and ‘how do i…’ – search is edging towards conversational language, and people may well respond well to conversational answers, hence the chatbot part of Workgrid.
Search results should provide the answer directly, not just the system, document, or page where the answer resides.
My best takeaways: Workgrid can be integrated with HR and other data-driven systems so as to provide real, personal answers. Content quality really matters (as ever). Chatbots need programming – they don’t actually learn from experience.
My question: I wonder how much investment in bespoke integration is needed.
Patrik Bergman: Knowledge management and the digital workplace
Patrik Bergman explains that Haldex aspires to be a learning organisation, and so chose to hire Precio Fishbone as they have good document management experience.
Interestingly… Haldex uses Microsoft Teams for communities of practice (CoPs). People will hashtag their questions with #INeedHelp and other people will @mention the right person or persons to bring them into the conversation.
My best takeaways: Using Bridge as the Learning Management System (LMS) and not relying on Office 365 only. Using Microsoft Teams as Communities of Practice – not something I would recommend, but you can’t argue with something if it works.
My questions: Do people know what a ‘learning organisation’ (as a concept) is? What sort of investment is needed to allow people the time to learn, train, and discuss things aside their ‘day job’?
Jesper Bylund: Top Tasks, information architecture, and search
Jesper Bylund of Region Skane gave an overview of Gerry McGovern’s Top Tasks process, showing how he ensured the intranet helped people complete the most important tasks. Do your research, and measure the TPI – Task Performance Index – so that you know which tasks people complete in a timely manner (and those that people struggle with). Improve your TPI to improve the usefulness of your intranet – and increase employee satisfaction.
Jesper explained that if you don’t personalise the intranet, you’re just muck spreading – everything is brown to everyone! Local content is always more needed than global content. Think business unit, role, and geography when designing personalisation and your home page sections.
Jesper’s eight principles of search went down very well with the audience, although I’m wary of using the G word within the enterprise. The infinite web is not the finite intranet, and search results reflects this.
My best takeaways: Search requires hefty resourcing. Content needs consolidating – too much is published. The muckspreader.
My question: With personalisation, what happens when a person’s local area does not publish any news / content for six months?
You must check out Jesper’s Intranet Governance Card Game, which is all about understanding your concerns, resources, and responsibilities when managing and improving your intranet. I expect Jesper will showcase his cards at my Intranet Now conference in June (London).