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What’s Happening in Intranets and the Digital Workplace – IntraTeam 2012

What’s Happening in Intranets and the Digital Workplace – IntraTeam 2012



I’m at IntraTeam 2012 in Denmark and will be blogging my take on the highlights (apologies to the speakers in tracks I miss).

see also: Day 2, Day 3

Today’s pre-conference workshops featured:

Jim Ylisela  on Writing for the Internal Web

 Jim (@jpyjr) reckons our employees are getting rapidly cynical as intranet content falls behind web content; it’s boring, not interactive, words not video.

For articles, nobody follows the Who, What, Where, Why, format anymore. You need to be more selective about what matters.

Easy to convey: What? Why?

Much harder to get across: Why it matters to you? now what?

He advised to think in terms of how long the reader has:

5 seconds – headline, text message, link

50 seconds: summary, lead, tweet (personally,  I’d put a tweet in the 5s category)

5 minutes: read the story, listen to the audio, watch the video

50 minutes: Participate in conversation, read whole article, take poll, rate content, follow further links, share, watch video

CEO Blogs

  • Always end the post with a question to get a comment
  • Don’t write from ‘on high’ if you want responses
  • Use an informal profile photo to reinforce the tone – not suit and tie
  • At Best Buy, the CEO blog has a “Tell Me About It” mail link in the sidebar so if you don’t want to post in public its a good overture to get dialogue. He’s open that some may only be read by his staff so he manages expectations if there’s a flood of mails

Martin White on Virtual Teams

Martin (www.intranetfocus.com) gallantly stepped in last-minute to replace Jane McConnell who sadly couldn’t travel due to illness.

He began talking about the Challenger disaster.  Barriers are not just country culture, but there are barriers of expert language too. For example ‘MTBF’ (Mean Time Between Failure) is used commonly by engineers but not understood by all managers.  For Challenger, people thought that managers had agreed to the launch because they didn’t object; managers thought they were there as observers. There was no clarity on whether the meeting purpose was agreement to launch or just sharing of information.

An Economist Intelligence Unit survey asked about the most important factors for virtual team success. “Setting clear, achievable goals” was top. The main challenge was “Misunderstandings due to differences in culture, language and inability to read people’s expressions”. Yet mostly we tend to worry about the place and time factor. Jane’s Digital Workplace Trends 2012 report is only one to identify extent of challenge multinationals face in balancing English with local languages.

Collaboration Personas by IBM.

IBM developed 6 types:

  1. Dynamic Project Team. Some members come and go during course of project
  2. Stable project team. Same people end-to-end
  3. Client-supplier relationship group
  4. Community
  5. Committee
  6. Professional relationships

(SlideShare summary by Luis Suarez)

Articles on collaboration tend to talk about situation where team already exists, not about how the team should be formed virtually in the first place. Martin recommends “Developing real skills for Virtual Teams”.

…and Martin White again on Mobile Intranets

Many people thought 2011 was going to be year of mobile intranet. It wasn’t – there was usually no mobile champion and little in-house experience. The gap between mobile and intranets is as big as the gap between intranets and the physical workplace.

A big shift now is how tablets have become centre-stage so quickly. People are talking about it being the dominant platform, where  tablets come first and a PC version will be a bonus. Morgan Stanley predict 472m units by end 2014. Lucky Apple – and all done without asking you, the consumer what you wanted! (see also Should intranet managers ever listen to their users?). For example, SAP have deployed 40,000 iPads to their global workforce. They want people to play and learn as they begin to develop for it themselves, and also to support mobile roles such as sales.

The Aberdeen Group in September 2011 found top App priorities were email, calendar, directory and then messaging and social collaboration. What’s worrying is that Millennials see security as somebody else’s responsibility (Cisco study).

Really important mobile use case is field personnel reporting back – not consuming info on the device, but sending in updates via online forms etc.

Questions that need answers:

  1. Who covers cost of calls and data if you bring your own device (BYOD)?
  2. If you provide mobile devices, how do you address countries where they’re taxed as a benefit in kind?
  3. Who is taking lead in developing a mobile strategy?
  4. How do you assess requirements when the primary user type is hard to get hold of?
(Martin had 8 more – I’ll link to his slides when available)

SharePoint Metadata – What Business Users Need to Know

I had the warm-up slot first thing on the day so ran a short workshop in the knotty question of SharePoint metadata (slides on Slideshare)


see also: Day 2Day 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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