Category Archives: news

I wrote a book about governance: ‘Digital success or digital disaster?’

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersWhen an intranet loses its usefulness over time, and people become disengaged and end up working around it rather than through it, I often find that the strategy and governance have been neglected.

Even a strong and appropriate strategy will founder if the governance isn’t in place to execute it.

I see governance as the foundation of a great intranet, and by ‘great’ I mean an intranet that is useful, useable, and supports the organisation’s goals and people’s needs.

I often blog about intranet governance, but my brand new book offers a lot more than I could ever drip-feed via short posts.  Writing a book has helped crystallise my thinking around governance, and delve deep into my past experience as an intranet manager, and as a consultant.

Take a look at my book now – it’s called ‘Digital success or digital disaster?’ and I mean for it to be relevant to intranets, collaboration, digital workplace and mobile workspace governance, while focussing on intranets.

I’m so pleased to have it published through Intranätverk, it’s been great to work with Kristian Norling and his team.  Seeing the final book on my tablet has made the months of writing all worth the effort.  I’m thrilled to be able to offer you my experience, guidance, and tips and hope you’ll consider my book a toolkit to better governance and a better intranet.

Please take a look at what the book offers you and your organisation – this is a ‘business book’ that should help organisations of every size, but I also hope it’s of interest to individual practitioners and ‘lone intranet managers’. I think this book can support you.

* Digital success or digital disaster? – Book available now.

* Follow me on Twitter – let me know what you think!

My 2014 predictions

I reviewed my predictions for 2013 and believe they are happening more as we move towards 2014.  So what has 2014 got in store for us?  Here are my five predictions:


Organisations will more seriously consider what approach will best meet their requirements.  Factors that will need to be considered before a final decision is made are:

  • How much will it save compared with the costs of keeping it within the firewall?
  • Will you have better business resilience?  Will it remove the single point of failure problem?
  • What will be the levels of service?
  • Who do you trust with your data?
  • Will your content be secure?


I know a lot has been said about mobile and how it is driving the transformation of intranets towards digital workplaces.  But how many employees still only use their smartphones for emails and texts?  Organisations need to get serious about realising the benefits and consider:

  • Increased productivity by people able to find information, complete tasks, share problems and knowledge when they need to without delay
  • Save accommodation costs and reduced dedicated workspace so people share as and when they need it
  • Support new ways of working with distributed teams and managers enabling and facilitating rather than controlling or limiting activity
  • Fear of the unknown is not a good business reason to stop employees using mobiles for their work
  • Bring your own device is a solvable problem when everyone wants to reach agreement over intellectual property, security and building trust and behaving sensibly


I am starting to see real examples of collaboration which showing through on business’ bottom line and getting the attention of senior manager.  This will bring benefits as it is taking more seriously and investment decisions are easier but the pressure to continue delivering larger savings will also increase.  Examples include:

  • Project teams sharing and creating online documentation without having to meet face to face or email each other
  • Solving problems more quickly using tools to find people with similar skills and experience
  • Sharing knowledge that helps others to solve problem and the organisation’s culture increasingly supporting this way of working


Organisations are realising, especially if they are implementing SharePoint, that all the areas where content is published need to be managed.  The problems of gaps in information managed and risks it can create are being recognised more.  More robust frameworks are being developed and used.  Examples include:

  • Different types of content such as accredited e.g. policies, news articles, and collaborative e.g. comment in discussion group, blog post are being accepted
  • All the different areas for content are being joined up e.g. content management, document management, project spaces, and news.
  • A hierarchy which sets out roles and responsibilities help identify overlaps and gaps in managing information
  • Publishing standards are being applied in smarter ways taking less time and effort with digital workplace teams


As intranets are transforming from their original purpose as communications tools towards digital workplaces that are critical business tools that people in that organisation increasingly need to rely on for their work, so their value is increasing and the need to measure that value.  Examples are:

  • Productivity savings are accepted in principle now even if the amount is not agreed by everyone
  • The impact on property usage and type is becoming more linked to new ways of working
  • The value an organisation places on a person’s digital assets e.g. knowledge in documents is starting to match that of any physical assets e.g. computer
  • Business resilience is critical to organisations and along with plans to use the cloud are plans to benefit from a more distributed workforce that no longer has to be in just one location

This is my last post of 2013.  I hope anyone reading this has had a great 2013, will have a relaxing break over the Christmas period, and be hoping for more success in 2014!

Showing the value of your information

I want to help you to show to people using your information how valuable it is.  Information should be something that can be used to help you with your work and be useful to you.

What is it you can do for people to realise your content is of value, it is useful, reliable, and authoritative?  What pitfalls should you avoid so people avoid your information!

It always surprises me when I see other intranets and digital workplaces how poor the management of their information is shown to people who need to use it.  Most of this is down to poor governance but there are other factors that come into play and show people the content is not valued.

There are also good examples of best practice shown with other intranets and digital workplaces which should be shared and adopted more widely.

As people use an increasing variety of ways to find and use information e.g. laptop, tables, smartphone, and the type of information grows e.g  company policy, news article, blog post or discussion thread comment they still need answers to some basic questions:

  1. Why should I use this information?
  2. How can I rely on it for my work?
  3. Who can help me further?
  4. Can it help others?
  5. Will it change in future?

In future posts I will give you tips on what to do/not to do to help you to show how valuable your information is to people who want to use it.  A lot of these will be very simple and obvious steps you should take.

Please leave me a comment with any good examples or gripes you have over problems you experience with information.  I am not the font of all knowledge on this subject and would love to help you to help others. :)


Why SharePoint 2010 needs to have a good mobile user experience

Why is SharePoint 2010 so widely used?  I believe it is because it offers for the first time one technical solution that meets many business needs rather than just one.

If you want to improve knowledge sharing you will have many tools to consider.  Again if you need to manage your documents you will have a wide choice of vendors.  But if your business has more than one need or can see how solving one will create other requirements then a solution like SharePoint 2010 comes become more attractive to consider.

What if your organisation needs employees to use your intranet while away from their place of work?  There are huge savings in office costs and increases in productivity if employees can use the intranet to help them with their work while they are mobile.

Before we can consider if SharePoint 2010 can help meet these needs and provide these benefits there are other important steps to take first.

Mobile strategy

Why is your organisation considering mobile access to your intranet?  You need to develop a strategy aligned to your overall business strategy that sets out how providing this need will help to improve the performance.  Without a clear, agreed, mobile strategy in place there is little chance of creating a successful business case for a solution that can help employees.  You need to research which content and tools are most needed while employees are mobile.

Mobile champion

Who should be responsible for sponsoring the implementation of your mobile strategy?  You need to find a senior representative who will champion this or, better still, a board or steering group of senior representatives from business functions across your organisation.  Make sure the role is clear, and you have the authority to make the decisions needed, supported by funding.

Mobile audience

Who needs to use a mobile device for their work?  You need to be clear which employees will benefit from having a mobile device.  It probably will not be everyone.  Even if it is, you will have to prioritise who has the greatest need.  Factors like the number of employees involved, time spent away from their place of work, what contribution they can make, will help decide the greatest need.

Mobile governance

As well as having a champion for the use of mobile devices your governance framework needs to include the standards for owners of content and tools to follow so mobile devices can be used by employees.  Roles and responsibilities need to include meeting the needs of mobile users for content and tool owners.  The content and tools must not be a complete duplication of what exists already.

Mobile devices

Will you let employees bring their own devices to work or will you provide your own?  That decision is critical and will depend on your organisation’s corporate values, type of employees, security (more below on this), funding and speed of adoption.  Once that decision is made you can then focus on what devices your organisation provides or you recommend employees have that offer the best experience for what they need to do while mobile.

Mobile security

How can you be sure the right people only are using your intranet?  It is vital you have a representative from your Legal team involved as well as from IT.  You need to find the right balance of secure but easy access.  It is no good if it takes ages to authenticate who you are before employee can access your intranet.  But you do need some intelligent software working in the background to ensure you know who is accessing content with a mobile device.

Mobile platform

As I said at the beginning most organisations are either considering using SharePoint 2010 or are in various stages of rolling out to meet their needs.  One of these is increasingly the need to provide content and tools that is needed by employees while mobile.

The problem with SharePoint 2010 is the ‘out of the box’ experience can be a bit underwhelming.  It is a text only version which most mobile users of internet sites will feel is like going back in time.  It may be improved by the next release of SharePoint but can your organisation afford to wait that long?

How to improve communications using collaborative tools

In my last post ‘Should collaboration tools redefine internal communications’ role?‘ I gave my view on the corporate environment needed to encourage internal communications professionals to welcome collaboration tools being used by employees.  But which collaboration tools can you introduce and improve internal communications too?

I recommend researching employees’ needs to find which are most needed and likely to be adopted.  Some contact with senior managers to understand the corporate values will help too.  Let’s start by increasing employees interaction with existing communication channels before we move on to new collaborative tools.

When a new article is published on the intranet employees normally have no easy opportunity to show how valuable it is, what their views are or the effect it has.  Introducing a few features can help to change that.


Employees are able to rate how useful the information has been.  The higher the rating, the more useful it is.  It helps show internal communications what is most valued by employees and encourage similar messages to be published.  More importantly it shows what is not useful and could be reduced or stopped.  This information helps plans for future communications that have the best impact.


Employees are able to comment on the news item.  A comments feature gives freedom to express positive and negative views.  It also enables other employees to see these comments and show if they dis/agree with what has been said already.  This helps internal communications to understand better how useful, complete, and relevant it has been.  It helps internal communications to improve future messages and empowers employees to influence these by expressing their views.


Employees are able to show they like the news item.  This helps internal communications understand how valuable and useful the message has been to employees.  It is a simpler approach to rating content (see Ratings) and gives a basic indication by the number of employees who how liked the message.


Employees are able to share news items with other employees who have a similar need or interest.  This helps spread news more quickly using the channels that employees prefer to use rather than the formal, existing, internal communication channels with other employees.

How I can help

I have several years’ first hand experience improving communications and helping other organisations too.  Please contact me if you would like me to help you:

  • decide on the right collaboration tools
  • communicate better using collaborative tools
  • improve internal communications
  • research employees needs and attitudes
  • train internal communicators

My next blog will cover how blogs can help improve internal communications.

Is your culture right for collaboration tools to improve internal communications?

I believe many internal communications professionals are not appreciating the benefits that collaboration tools can bring.  Instead they are seen as a threat to traditional channels used for communicating corporate messages to employees.  In my previous post ‘Can collaboration tools improve internal communications?‘ I disagreed with this attitude.

Changing this approach is not a simple task.  Before you can consider using any collaboration tools you need to have the right culture within your organisation.  I’m afraid the approach of “I’ll start a blog to change the culture” is doomed to failure.  You need to have an environment where employees are:

  1. comfortable using collaborative tools
  2. encouraged to share information with other employees
  3. maybe even incentivised to share knowledge online
  4. able and willing to offer critical comments
  5. relaxed about constructive feedback on their own views

To achieve this environment you need to have in place the following:

  1. company values that should cover openness, honesty, and trust
  2. endorsement and sponsorship by senior managers of the values
  3. guidance on how employees should behave online
  4. HR policies that support employee engagement

That means internal communications realising they are not the only people who can communicate using the intranet.  Neither are ‘official’ channels the only route to communicate with other employees.  To embrace these challenges could mean a redefining of the role of internal communications.  How this can be done will be covered in my next post.

If you want to use my experience or help about this post please contact me.

What is a digital workplace?

Last week at the IntraTeam event in Copenhagen (Twitter #IEC12) there were many discussions about the digital workplace and what exactly is a digital workplace.

I thought it would be good to start a debate on what we mean when we say the digital workplace. Many intranet professionals want to find out more about the digital workplace.  Here is my view for you to consider and comment upon.

What exactly is a digital workplace?

I define the digital workplace as “Work is what you do, not where you go to.”

In a digital workplace you are able to:

  • Work in any location.  This may be at home, in your own or anyone else’s office, on the train, or ideally anywhere that suits you at the time you need to.
  • Do your work.  This may making a room booking, checking a person’s contacts details, searching for information you need, or reading the latest news.
  • Use any device.  This maybe your laptop, a shared PC, a smartphone (iPhone), or tablet (iPad).
  • Share information.  This means being able to use collaboration tools to help other people.
  • Search across all places where information is and you have permission to use.

What is the difference between a digital workplace and an intranet?

An intranet has a more limited role.  An intranet typically has corporate news and documents e.g. policies. Publishing will probably use content and document management systems.  A digital workplace will also have:

  • Collaboration tools e.g. blogs, wikis, podcasts
  • Micro blogging tools e.g. Yammer, Twitter
  • Knowledge sharing/building e.g. team wikis and share workspaces
  • Applications/tools e.g. HR tools, online training, sales performance
  • Processes e.g. approving decisions, compliance checks

It will help me and other intranet professionals if you can comment to agree, disagree, amend, etc, to create a shared understanding on the digital workplace.  Thanks in advance.