Category Archives: rss

Include mobile in your internal comms strategy

To coincide with my last post ‘Why you need a mobile strategy‘ in my current series on the mobile workspace, I was interviewed by the Journal of Internal Communication for an article about the potential of mobile devices when developing internal communications strategies.  I gave my views on the importance of people using mobile devices to be communicated with and to communicate and collaborate with other people while away from their normal place of work.

People have always been outside of the office space however, mobile technology now enables you to get messages out to them quickly – something that wasn’t possible in the past.  This doesn’t only affect remote workers or employees who travel a lot: work is increasingly shifting towards mobile devices.

The traditional situation where employees were using a desktop and ‘consuming’ communications during specific hours of the day is over.  Increasingly, they will want to share things anytime, anywhere, and to be updated instantaneously.  So there’s a whole new audience out there that internal communicators need to get to know.

You can read ‘The benefits of incorporating mobile devices into your strategy’ in full for free here.

From my time working in BT and with clients such as Centrica, internal communicators sometimes feel left behind or threatened by it.  Actually I believe it is the opposite!  This is a great opportunity for internal communicators to take a more strategic, value-add, position and plan how to take full advantage of the benefits this new way of working technology is offering.

If you want more information or advice please get in touch.

Who should own the Digital Workplace?

I read with interest Jane McConnell’s blog posts on governance in the digital workplace.  Jane’s Digital Workplace Trends 2012 survey showed how a strategic decision-making body can increase the chances of creating an effective digital workplace.

Now, before I go any further I have a confession to make.  I was the BT Intranet manager for nine years.  During that time I helped transform BT’s intranet into one benchmarked independently and accepted as one of the best globally.  I also was heavily involved in developing the wider digital workplace which I define as ‘work is what you do, not where you go to’ to support BT’s ambitions.

My intranet role was in Group Communications as part of a team focused on intranet, internet, web publishing, design and development.  Being in Group Communications felt naturally the best place to be to improve the intranet.  It was seen by other parts of the business as right too and our authority was accepted and not challenged for managing information online and to work directly with our IT partners on business needs.

However as more tools were used for online processes and activities – room bookings, training, performance management – so the difficulties of managing these became more apparent.  To brand these tools with a BT mark was very involved and conflicted with an ‘out of the box’ and ‘no customising’ approaches taken by IT.

Combine that with a defensive reaction to introducing wikis to share knowledge, podcasts to show and tell how to do things and most importantly blogs which made every employee potentially a communicator across the BT and you can see the landscape is changing for communicators.

I believe despite the success of the previous years where most successful intranets have been managed by communications that it is time to think differently as digital workplaces expand that role and function.

The digital workplace is more than a news channel or document store.  It can become the natural way of working so everyone is more productive and your organisation more efficient with:

  • People working from any location as well as their normal place of work
  • Everyone able to collaborate, search and complete tasks
  • Individuals choosing tools – RSS, mobile, etc. – that help them
  • IT infrastructure giving the same or similar experience
  • Physical workplaces to meet future needs and ways of working
  • Organisations measuring benefits and encouraging the digital workplace

This expands the role beyond information management traditionally championed by communicators who own the intranet.  It also needs more than one person and it needs people who represent other key functions within the organisation.

Who do you think should own the digital workplace?

8 ways SharePoint 2010 can help internal communications

I have covered in previous posts how internal communications can improve with collaboration tools.  I also believe SharePoint 2010 can help organisations’ intranets if applied well.  This post covers 8 ways that SP 2010 can help internal communications.

I’m not saying that SP 2010 is the only way to improve internal comms or intranets generally.  There are other technologies that can do this as well or better.  It is how you use the technology that is critical to it being a success.

These 8 ways can help SharePoint 2010 make a difference to internal communications by offering more agile and tailored solutions to meet the organisation’s needs:

  1. Polls: you can use polls to ask for feedback on a subject with a menu of answers for people to choose from.
  2. News: you can tailor a section of a page to show as many stories as you want.  You can give people the choice to see extra news and mandate how many news stories they must see and how many are optional.
  3. News stories: people can read these and show how they feel by using the SP 2010 features to like and rate the stories.
  4. Share news stories: people can also share a story with people who will be interested.  This is usually by email like with internet sites.
  5. Tag news stories: people can also tag a story with words or phrases that group it with other information or news they can find easily in future.  Tags can also be shared with other people and their tags can create a folksonomy.
  6. Discussion forums: people are able to extend their feedback on the news story by discussing it further with other people.  Internal communicators can also join the discussion and help explain any points that are unclear to people.
  7. Blogs: people (including internal communicators) can give a personal view on a news story.  Again it extends the original message if someone feels strongly about or offers an opinion to challenge another view.  This can help tease out small issues that can be quickly resolved before they can become major issues later that are more complex and harder to sort out.
  8. Podcasts: internal communicators can show and tell how to do something to help illustrate a message better than using words.  This is different from high quality corporate videos.  The quality may be lower but much cheaper and normally accepted by people.  It is the informal, personal, style that can make a positive difference to people’s perceptions.

The real benefits with SharePoint 2010 are when you use it on a major scale.  If you create the content to be communicated once, then be able to re-use it across many channels, you can focus on quality of the message.  You can communicate it as a news article, mobile text, video/podcast, etc. and get feedback from discussion forums, polls, rating, comments, shares and likes to it.

Have you found any of these have helped you?

Can collaboration tools improve internal communications?

Intranets have developed over recent years from mainly being a channel for a few people to publish news to becoming places where any employee can collaborate and share knowledge with other employees.  I find it ironic that it is internal communications who are hesitant, even resistant, to embrace these changes.  Ironic because many intranet teams are located within internal communications.  Doubly ironic as it is normally intranet teams who are involved with how collaboration tools are used.

Instead of embracing this chance to engage with employees using these new tools and integrate them into an enhanced communications framework, internal communications reaction is more often a knee-jerk one that results in more and more ‘official’ news to try to drown out other voices.

I think that’s very sad when it happens.  It’s a bit like an ostrich burying its head in the sand.  It has to face reality at some stage.  The later internal comms leave it, the bigger the challenge it faces to use these tools to the overall benefit of the organisation, employees and internal communications.

Over the next few posts I want to cover how tools like blogs, video, rating and RSS can be used more effectively.  I will also show how I can help you if you need more information and support.

Is this scenario something you are familiar with in your own organisation?

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.

Social media: why bother?

On Wednesday I was invited to speak at an aspic communication cafe on Social media: force for good or fad? to a group of very interested communicators. 

I really enjoyed presenting with Kim Willis – great presenter and presentation by the way! – about the benefits of social media.

You can find my slides on ‘Social media: why bother?‘ here.

Get a great intranet by involving everyone

When I posted about the latest results for BT ‘BT Intranet 2010 benchmark results‘ I promised to give examples the Intranet Benchmarking Forum highlighted as global best practice.

The first example was about our content.  IBF said all pages across BT’s intranet contain author and date information.

My next example is about how involving everyone can make your intranet more valuable to your organisation.  IBF said BT’s intranet supports our values to be open and straightforward in dealings with colleagues.

BT’s intranet builds on this by supporting collaboration with anyone in BT including senior managers.  We do this in several ways with online chats, blogs, and collaboration tools including:

  • Blog Central now has over 500 blogs with over 80% having posted at least once in the last month
  • BTpedia now has over 2,500 wiki articles with new articles added every few days and the top article having over 125,000 views
  • Podcast Central now has over 1,000 podcast episodes with over 20 added in the last week
  • On our newsdesk site, BT Today can express their views on BT-wide subjects that anyone can add to as well as comment on news stories.
  • BT’s CEO, Ian Livingston, has regular online chats where anyone can ask a question he will respond to for about one hour.