Just before the end of this year’s IntraTeam Event a few weeks back, Martin White sat down next to me for a chat about the two days and how it had been. One of his first comments were: “People are so much more positive than last year. It seems like the optimism is returning to the community”. I hadn’t reallt thought about it but Martin’s comment made me reflect a little on the conversations thatI had over the last couple of days and I certainly see the same pattern.
Compared to the same event 2013 (I was unable to attend last year) and other events I have been to though 2014, the conversations were indeed much more forward looking and I think this is driven by two things:
- The financial crisis is nearing the end. We are not out of the woods yet, but there is little doubt that we are closer to the end than to the beginning.
- More and more companies are moving their collaboration solutions to either cloud based solutions or hybrid solutions. Interestingly, this on its own does not drive development of new exciting things, but things are moving and no matter how you twist and turn it, a cloud based platform ‘forces’ you to re-think some of your applications and with a stronger focus on the business value and user experience, this will result in better solutions.
The only thing still nagging is that the development is still not driven by business needs (although they are becoming more common) but by the technology and migration efforts. I’m looking forward to Jane McConnell publishes the results of this year’s Digital Workplace Trends survey to see whether or not this is true. If I’m proven wrong I will readily admit it and do so with a BIG smile!
“Micro narratives are the basic units of sensemaking in human society.”
A trends that has been growing over the last years is the importance of narratives in the development of new solutions. Look back 5 years and most new and innovative solutions were about improving existing capabilities through better use of the underlying tech. “…But Martin – That’s still the case! I don’t buy that” – While I will not disagree with you I think that examples like the HR solution from Telstra and the new intranet from ABB shows that we are learning from the ‘first generation’ where focus was to make things available, we are now focusing more about the contexts in which the solutions will work.
The header for this paragraph is a quote from David Snowden who really hit the nail on the head here: If we listen to eachother and focus less on the glamourous world of technology, we will both understand each other better and ultimately become better at helping each other out. A place where this has been very apparent has been in the ‘chasm’ between business and IT, but with IT becoming more aware of the business needs combined with a growing IT acumen in the Line of Business I think we are in good shape. Now it’s just about how to work together.
Are we still living on MOSS?
On the other hand I still find it problematic that many (unfortunately) are still using the same thinking around prioritisation of content as they used when they built their MOSS2007 intranet and this is a real shame. Why do we still think “corporate news” when we design a new front page? Why do we still add share prices and weather forecasts to the front page? You can argue that it’s because our colleagues want them there – and let’s not forget about the lunch menu – but is this really true? Or is it a case of people not knowing what to expect?
In one of my previous roles I did an intranet survey and while the overall picture was that people were generally satisfied with the intranet, you could see some interesting trends when digging a little deeper. I found a strong corelation between age and tenure vs. Intranet satisfaction. The younger (and the shorter tenure), the lower the satisfaction. Expectations are rising once again driven by consumer products and it’s up to the digital workplace community to rise to that challenge. We need to take more risks and build an intranet that is essentially not just a faster horse.
Another obituary for the intranet
Once again the death of the intranet was announced. This is certainly something I have heard before. Will the intranet change? Yes. Will the term ‘intranet’ (laden will all the baggage of the past) give way to a new term – dare I suggest “the [insert buzzword] portal”? That would not be unlikely as I believe that the clouds rolling in will enable us to deliver the portal solution in the way it was meant to be in the first place. The idea that “The Intranet” will increasingly become a number loosely coupled apps may very well be true but we will still be looking for that infamous single point of access.
What I took away….
The optimism is back, the user experience is increasingly important, the people working with this are as passionate as ever – I’m confident that the announced death of the intranet is hugely exaggerated!
More about the event – here are a couple of good places to start.
IntraTeam has already published the first two recordings and worth a closer look:
How ‘design thinking’ is transforming intranets
James Robertson – StepTwo Design
The organisation as a loosely coupled network
David Snowden – Cognitive Edge