IntraTeam Event 2015 – The intranet is dead! Long live the intranet!

March 10, 2015
Intrateam Event 2015 Opening

Mr. IntraTeam (aka Kurt Kragh Sørensen) kicks off the event

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!

Dave Snowden - Knowing

7 characteristics of Knowing by Dave Snowden

“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.

Robertson - Telstra

James Robertson presenting the Telstra HR dashboard

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!

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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

For an excellent session-by-session summary, check out Sam Marshall‘s live blogs here.
IntraTeam Event 2015 – Day 1
IntraTeam Event 2015 – Day 2

The Event storifi’ed by Dana Leeson

Conference notes shared by Samuel Driessen
Notes from day 2 IntraTeam Event Copenhagen 
Notes from day 3 IntraTeam Event Copenhagen 


Sprints, leaps and baby steps – What it takes to make an intranet strategy work.

May 13, 2013

Next week I’m speaking at Intranätverk – the newest star on the intranet conference sky. Kristian Norling has done a remarkable job of putting together a great lineup of speakers mostly from Sweden but also some notable people from around Europe. Kristian promises to bring a twist to the regular intranet conference and I am happy to play my part in making this happen.

My talk will be about intranet strategy and how we at Grundfos have been quite successful with a more sustained model but now find ourselves faced with a challenge. It will not be about Sharepoint although there IS new version out there which is awfully hard to ignore. Heck, just last week I walked though Copenhagen Airport where Microsoft banners lined the security check area. I’m sure there are a whole bunch of jokes that can be made based on that but I’ll leave that up to you J

A new Sharepoint – that also means that whenever intranet peers meet it doesn’t take very long before the conversations turns to the topic of this new version. Sometimes it makes good sense to upgrade but all too often this is done simply because an eager and very tech focused intranet manager wants the newest version. An even more common scenario is that the IT department tells the intranet team that they will now upgrade to the latest version as a part of the overall strategy (or some other reason) with no questions asked.

Let me always having the most recent piece of software is NOT a strategy. It’s an operational thing. Even if it is labeled as a strategic ambition, it is an incredibly stupid one! Strategies need to be made around what the platform – be that the intranet, record management system or something else – can help your colleagues, the users, achieve.

What about the scenario where the USERS are the ones asking for the new version of a given platform? It is not at all a common thing so I was really surprised that when Grundfos announced that the entire company should move to MS Office 365 I was approached by quite a few who excitedly asked “when are we getting Sharepoint?”. Why was that?

The answer is buried in the fact that our intranet is more than 10 years old. It is grown with the company and with the needs of my colleagues but more importantly, it has grown INSIDE the organization and little heed has been given to the outside world since our intranet was – and is – doing a good job. We are in a situation where we have had great success growing our intranet with the company to serve the needs of our colleagues but if you compare to what’s going on elsewhere it is clear that what started as a small discrepancy – a hairline fracture – has now grown into a big crevasse and we now need to prepare to take a big leap.

This is obviously a very daunting task but nevertheless one that has to be done. If we fail to do so people will start looking elsewhere. In Grundfos we have seen a spectacular uptake on the use of Yammer which I think is excellent but it also underlines my point that although a sustainable development model is the best way forward you inadvertently find yourself in a situation where radical change is needed. It’s a fact of life!

So how do you create an intranet strategy that work? My answer is short and simple: Make sure that you always grow with the company. Users hate surprises but every once in a (great) while you need to take a great leap forward to catch up otherwise people will be leaving. Most importantly you should never, ever stop listening to what your customers really need and it is NEVER “the latest version of SharePoint”…

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If you are interested in reading more about my thoughts on the development gap that I have outlined here, I hope that I’ll see you in Gothenburg. If not, you can take a closer look at the J. Boye blog where I wrote a blogpost titled “Mind the gap – also when developing your intranet


The first rule of Sharepoint is…

December 4, 2012

You do not talk about Sharepoint! I’m sure there are many other Fight Club related quotes to be said about intranets and platforms but the one mentioned here is very appropriate for my experiences from two conferences in the past month.

I have enjoyed the privelege of speaking at J. Boye 2012 in Aarhus and Intranett 2012 in Oslo and what stood out at both events was that technology is no longer taking center stage when you talk about intranets. Until very recent you could not attend an intranet event without half of the presentations were either about social media orSharepoint. Now we are talking about search, user experience, content strategy, etc. – why this change?

Part of the explanation is maturity. The technology platforms that intranets are built on have come of age and it is no longer common to hear of big migration projects or big bang launches (the latter, I find particularly good). The platforms now develop more consistently and continuously which makes the need to perform the “quantum leaps” of the past much less. Another part of the explanation might just be that many companies have been forced to prioritise differently due to the struggling economy. This means that you need to make ends meet and use what you already have.

The other big part and also the big upside is that the user is now in focus. It’s now about efficiency and productivity and to achieve this you must focus on the user experience. In my opinion this is indeed great news for both the end users but also for intranets in general.


The conference season is upon us

November 6, 2012

November may be one of dullest months of the year – especially in Scandinavia! Luckily some great people make this month much more interesting by hosting a number of conferences every year in November. This year I will be fortunate enough to attend two as a speaker – J. Boye 2012 in Aarhus and Intranett 2012 in Oslo.

First up is what I affectionately call “my local conference” and I have written a little about what I am looking forward to at this particular event. I hope that I will see you there!

Here’s a little exerpt of the post and a link where you can read more.

Apart from giving my own presentation as a part of the intranet conference track, I have also been given the opportunity to host a roundtable about social networking and the intranet. This provides an opportunity not only to share some of my own experiences but also to learn from others what works and what doesn’t – a great way to share in a more informal setting and hopefully get some ideas that can be used when you get back from the conference.

Read the entire post at the J. Boye Conference site…


Mind the gap – also when developing your intranet

October 29, 2012

It happens – more frequently than it should – that you meet an intranet manager with a somewhat disgruntled look on her face when you start talking about how their intranet is doing. More often than not this is because they are in the middle of a big redesign or a big upgrade to the next version of the intranet platform which ought to be good news. But often it is just one more in a long line of intranet projects which historically have been testing the patience of the intranet team – not to mention the colleagues.

The big problem is that the intranet is too often seen as a project. You may have a nice intranet vision that talks about how your intranet will be the one place above all and must support the business goals and strategies. So, I ask: Since when did it become a business goal to always use the latest version of SharePoint?

Read the answer and the entire post on the J. Boye blog – Posted ahead of the J. Boye conference in Aarhus next month where this will be the topic of my talk. I hope that I will see you there.


Relevance, Resonance, and the Digital Ninjas – Adobe Summit 2012

May 22, 2012

On my way from work today I heard a somewhat funny segment about how companies increasingly were looking for ‘ninjas’ when hiring new people. In fact the job ads mentioning ‘ninjas’ were up 2500% compared to last year – not to mention the jedis and rock stars who also seem to be in great demand.

I couldn’t help but related it to last week’s Adobe Digital Marketing Summit in London where I came face to face with the digital marketing world once again – a world which I have been a little out of sync with after moving into the intranet realm about 5 years ago. All the more interesting it allowed me to pinpoint some of the development that has happened for the digital marketing professionals and how online marketing has transformed from being very creative profession to become that of number crunchers and controller – maybe even Ninja-controllers…

This is a positive thing. It doesn’t only show that online marketing is reaching a new level of maturity but also that we are getting better and better at leveraging the true strength of online media: Everything can be measured! I posted a tweet about the fact that ‘big data’ was largely absent, but a reply made me realize that these guys don’t think about the concept of ‘big data’ – they are already using these vast amounts of data every day to track what we buy and what our friends recommend all to make sure that we get a tailored, personalized experience throughout the web – and hopefully we’ll buy some stuff along the way.

Honestly, I found some of the insights gained a little disturbing. Everything is about the personalized experience which is all well and good, but if everything is based on what my friends (and friend’s friends) do online are we then not running a risk of losing the individuality somewhere along the way? If you use the internet and social media to seek new inspiration about whatever and all you see is information based on what your friends have done, is it then really new inspiration or are we running around in a circle where we become more and more alike and a circle that becomes more and more tightly knit?

Arianna Huffington gave a very inspiring keynote which was closely related to the above. Like many others she made the point that the ubiquitous social networks makes us more disconnected to ourselves and that we need to remember to disconnect, but more interestingly she also talked about how companies focus heavily on relevance and not resonance. Relevance can be created based on actionable data because you then know what I want and like. Resonance is different: You need to provoke thoughts, challenge my opinions, even my view of the world. There’s no guaranteed sale in resonance, but if you succeed you can rest assured that you have something way more valuable than a mere customer.

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The conference? If conversion rates, lifetime customer value, repeat purchases, and those kinds of things are your game then it’s a great event and you should certainly go. If you, like me, focus on the digital workplace within companies and the disruption going on here, I believe that there are better choices for inspiration.

I got some good good input about data privacy, interesting sneak peeks, and – as already mentioned – a very inspiring keynote from Arianna Huffington but other than that it missed the mark for me.


Community management, Wikis, and a bar – Learnings and reflections from IntraTeam Event 2012

March 5, 2012

The first conference day was kicked off by Tony Byrne, who set the scene with a very down to earth presentation and some may even have found it a bit discouraging, but personally I found it quite refreshing that someone dared to remind us that few companies are succeeding with online collaboration at scale. Some might even disagree, but if you look at case studies presented at conferences etc. I do agree with Tony on this one. Only a few are doing it well, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it, and personally I remain convinced that we are standing on the edge of a major change in the way we cooperate.

This naturally raises the question on how we then succeed which ties very nicely into a trend I saw at this conference: The rise of Internal Community Management.

It may not be big news but it was certainly new to me to see the very strong manifestation of the need for community managers in the organization. Not only was the term “distributed community management” introduced, but I sat through presentations from Alcatel-Lucent, SEB, and Aviva where the presenters all touched on the topic. SEB had even recently hired Anna to become the internal community manager. I found it very interesting and believe that this is these are the examples of how the role we today call “intranet editor” will change into the facilitator for collaboration and networking throughout the organization and there is no doubt that if we want the visions for the digital workplace to happen we need a lot of Annas.

To stay in the pragmatic track, I will have to say that this is hardly a surprise to see community management become more important. If you look at the commercial web services, community management has been the talk of the town for at least the last two years and focus is only increasing. I see this as a(nother) prime example of how the trends from the commercial web seep into the organization and create a demand for similar capabilities and that companies need to hire people with new competencies.

The Shell Wiki
The case that impressed me the most was from Shell and how they implemented a wiki in the organization. Griet Johannson presented some very convincing facts and figures and I was very surprised about the very honest and straight forward approach they had taken. It can be summed up to: “If you are looking for something in the wiki which isn’t there, it’s YOUR responsibility to create it!” Basically it all starts with a search query with the obvious purpose of finding information, and you don’t find it you are probably going to search elsewhere and you are then obliged to contribute to the common good by sharing your findings which then can be corrected and expanded. Simple. Easy. Pragmatic…..and it FINALLY made me see why I have had a hard time getting to terms with how a wiki should work. It’s about search. Not structure.

The Aviva Service Bar
Through a conference like this you hear about many great ideas and concepts. If you ask me the most interesting was when Luke Mepham presented “The Service Bar” initiative from Aviva. The IT department had simply created a posh bar-like setting where people could stop by with their computers – both work and private – and get a service check or support with a specific issue. The basic idea was to help people get the necessary tools to work remotely and then provide a little extra service. I think this is a truly great idea. We can do almost everything from our chairs through webcams, IM, etc. so we need to come up with places where people are “allowed” to meet on company time. Helpdesks and similar functions are all great, but we still need the physical meeting. It be less of a trend and more of a personal crusade for me, but we need to challenge the arm’s length principle that is in virtually all kinds of support and create room for more F2F contact – also for simple things.

A big thank you to delegates for two great days (and evenings) in Copenhagen, and also a congratulations to Kurt and his IntraTeam for another inspiring conference. I’m ready for another dose in 2013 :-)

If you would like to read more from the conference, you can take a closer look at the links below.

Blogposts
Very nice recaps of all three days from Sam Marshall: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.

Ernst Decsey – Is digital workplace becoming an accepted term
Mark Morrell – What is a digital workplace

Presentations on SlideShare
Kristian Norling – Search analytics in practice
Jerome Colombe – A step to the digital workplace

Sam Marshall – Loving the intranet

Oscar Berg – Why traditional intranets fail today’s knowledge workers


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