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What we did at ClearBox in 2018

ClearBox Consulting written in chalk.

What we did at ClearBox in 2018


One of the best things about being a consultancy is that every year is different. My favourite part is learning about wholly new industries and the very different ways in which organisations work. Our clients have ranged from multinational manufacturers, to a London University, to small charities that punch well above their weight. 

We began the year with a highly concentrated review of the intranet at a large European bank, recommending options for an overhaul, and weighing up the pros and cons of a SharePoint or non-SharePoint solution. Being vendor-neutral, we understand SharePoint well, but we suggest other platforms can be easier to live with.

Monty persona.

Personas are a tool we often use to help bring digital workplace thinking to life (though a couple of times this year it went too far, with draft personas featuring photos of a ‘William Windsor’ and a Bollywood star). Personas were significantly used in two projects – one with a leading chemicals company where we created a custom persona template in a workshop then they did the research to flesh them out. Another is a UK government department where digital devices for frontline workers are really transforming what is possible.

Global digital workplaces

We’ve been working on global digital workplace strategies with an insurance company and a paper products manufacturer (even as digital consultants, we reckon paper is a beautiful versatile thing – and great for eco-friendly clothing we learned). The discovery phases have involved thousands of employees in multi-lingual surveys. We’re getting pretty good at handling everything from Spanish to Chinese.


Adoption workshop details.

Our well-established ‘SharePoint for Internal Communicators‘ training session has morphed into ‘Office 365 for Business Stakeholders’. It’s a one-day session that talks about the ‘why’ of Office 365 rather than the ‘what’ and showcases the art of the possible. On the to-do list for 2019 is updating the brochure to match!

Another format we’ve been evolving is a strategy session based on our Digital Workplace Framework. We’ve run it half a dozen times this year, and clients tell us it can really help to have ClearBox as a neutral party at the early stages of planning to help stakeholders align. Everyone gets their own scoresheet, but then instantly sees the collective viewpoint too. It’s gratifying is that cloud tech now makes it possible to run this as a virtual session (and we’ve created a few Trello converts along the way).

SharePoint intranets

Number of intranet in-a-box products.

Now on the fourth edition, our SharePoint Intranets in-a-box report was a major undertaking, occupying around 700 hours of work an too many weekends to mention. The reviews have been great, most recently Jed Cawthorne of TD Bank said it was “an absolute gold mine of pertinent information”.

The market is ever-growing, and you can read about the making of the SharePoint report in a recent blog.

Speaking, blogs and webinars

Dana and Rachel with our Wedge on stage at Smile.

As ever, 2018 was busy, busy with speaking and blogging. Our Wedge Black even runs his own conference (Intranet Now) outside of his ClearBox role. I really enjoyed giving a keynote at the inaugural Value Intranet event in Brussels, and speaking at the vast European SharePoint conference in Copenhagen.

All our blogs and webinars are online if you want a catch up. Hot topics were ‘Diagnosing enterprise search‘ and ‘Hub sites raise SharePoint’s intranet potential‘.

Come on 2019!

For me personally, 2019 starts unconventionally with jury service. It’s going to be an intriguing process and I hope to pick up some facilitation tips from the judge.

Beyond that, we plan to widen the scope of our independent reports, re-vamp our workshop range, and we already have some very cool consulting work coming through.

If any of the above sounds like the kind of help you’re looking for, then please do get in touch. Or sign up to our newsletter for a monthly update on what’s new and interesting in the digital world of work.

But for now, I just want to say thank you to everyone that we’ve worked with and collaborated – our customers, colleagues, peers, and twitter friends. It’s been a very fine year.

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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