Category Archives: search

How to succeed with mobile collaboration

On day 2 of the WCMS14 conference I ran a workshop about mobile collaboration. People can help each other or can ask for help to collaborate. Having mobile access means you can do this whenever you need to and not have to wait any more. To achieve this there are four areas to focus on:

  1. Make it easy
  2. Manage it smartly
  3. Technology has to meet business needs
  4. Involve people with mobiles

1. Make it easy

The main point is to create an overall consistent experience for people whatever device they use. With more mobile devices than traditional PCs being sold now, organisations should put the need of mobile people first.
By removing the barriers, mobile users don’t need extra logins to be able to collaborate online. It should also be possible to collaborate while offline and the tool synchronise and update automatically.
Research with mobile users what they need most to help them collaborate online, what experience it needs to be and identify tools with the best adoption rates and understand why.

Manage it smartly

It is important that any governance is built to help people collaborate while mobile and not hinder this aim. By extending existing publishing standards to cover mobile use appropriately you continue with one governance framework. The same applies to roles and responsibilities for content and app owners as well as intranet managers.
The findability of content is critical. Having one search engine that covers all the information architecture helps to achieve this. The decision over whether you have one version of the content or app which is responsive to different designs or different versions for each size screen will depend on the information architecture you develop and on security needs.
How long is it before information become knowledge? Your answer to that will decide whether all your collaborative content stays online and is searchable or is archived after a period of time or inactivity or removed permanently. There are no right or wrong answers but you do have to decide what is best for your organisation.

Technology has to meet business needs

Make sure you have the right solution for the right business requirements. This means being very clear what you need before you start to research the technology that can meet your business needs. It will probably also mean you don’t choose the top solution, partly due to the costs, but also because it provides features and functions that you have no immediate or foreseeable need for.
Any technology for mobile collaboration bought or developed needs to be configurable and shown to work with existing systems and platforms.
You need to consider how many operating systems your organisation will support for the different mobile devices used for mobile collaboration. This needs to cover the issue of BYOD. A balance needs to be struck which may be something like x number of operating systems will be guaranteed to give a good mobile user experience and support y mobile devices. You can choose other mobile devices but you should not expect to be guaranteed a good mobile experience.

Involve people with mobiles

You should not assume what collaboration tools people with mobile devices need. You need to research their needs not just make something accessible from a mobile device and say the experience is good enough.
Involve people at the earliest stage of developing the user experience. As soon as the development is good enough for basic use it should be thrown open to mobile users to test out. They can feedback any problems or improvements that will help them to collaborate better to be acted upon.
A perpetual beta development status can be adopted for the mobile collaboration tools to avoid long delays in improvements, the need for major re-launches. Small, incremental, changes can be made quickly based on clear feedback and involvement from mobile users.
Lastly the testing can be a formal User Acceptance testing approach or more informal and open to anyone with a mobile device to use at any time. The process needs to be transparent and a playground/sandpit available where all development can be tested out. This may need IT to change its approach!

Summary

  1. Remove barriers that prevent adoption
  2. Have one governance framework
  3. Right mobile collaboration tools that meet needs
  4. Involve people who use mobile

 

Digital Workplace or digital working?

In my last two posts about the digital workplace I have covered an example of how field-based people use the digital workplace.  I then covered how people’s perception of the digital workplace should be more than just considering it is for office-based people only.

But is the digital workplace the best term to describe the new ways of working that people are adopting?  Is a term like ‘digital working’ a better description than ‘digital workplace’?

Firstly I don’t get too bothered about terms.  As long as there is a common understanding between me and the people I am communicating and working with then that is fine with me.  But it does help if that understanding can be easily achieved using a term that is meaningful.

Digital workplace

I describe this simply as ‘Work is something you do, not a place you go to’.  In a digital workplace you can:

  • Work from any location or while mobile
  • Have the same or similar online experience
  • Collaborate, search, and complete tasks online
  • Choose what tools you can use to do this
  • Feel comfortable whenever you are using it
  • Be confident you can use it when you need to
  • Have a better work/life balance

There are other, more detailed, definitions that describe the digital workplace.

digital working

But isn’t that explained as well by the term ‘digital working’?  It removes any ambiguity about it only referring to office-based rather than field-based or mobile people’s ways of working.

Is it better and maybe more meaningful to use the active term ‘working’ rather than something passive like ‘workplace’?  Does the increasing use and influence of mobile working also mean we should consider using ‘digital working’ now?

Summary

What are your views on these terms?  What best suits how your people in your organisation now work?  Is it ‘digital workplace’ or ‘digital working’ that we should be using?  I would love to hear from you.

Valuing information tip 4: finding it more easily

In this series of posts ‘Showing the value of your information’ I help you with tips and advice.  So far I have covered owning content, accredited content and collaborative content.  I now want to cover findability of your content.

By findability I mean how you can make it easier for people to find the information you publish and manage.  Making that difference will show that your content is more valued by anyone finding it.

Headings

Think about the title of your content.  What words or phrases will people be searching for? For your content to be high in the search results you need your title to be clear and meaningful to your intended audience.  Any tags or metadata you add should help people understand your content when they find it.  The aim is to help people find your content more easily and not need extra time and effort to do this.  The sad truth is people rarely do this.

For example the title ‘Is SharePoint good or bad?‘ is clearer compared with ‘Is some Microsoft technology better or worse than average when compared with other publishing tools?’.

jargon

Avoid using jargon such as abbreviations or abridged versions of a word.  Always use the terms most people are familiar with and will recognise when they are searching for your content.

For example when I used to work in BT (a technology company) the term ‘broadband’ was also known as ‘DSL’ by technical people or ‘BT Infinity’ and other product names by Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service people.  Broadband was the common term that was recognised by everyone with other terms associated with it rather than used instead of it.

keywords

Think about the keywords you will be using which best cover the content you will publish.  Use these keywords in your content to help your search engine pick up on them (search engine optimisation – SEO).  The keywords should also be used most frequently by people to find your content.  The more frequently you use a standard term rather than variations of that term, the more likely your content will be ranked higher in the search results.

For example if instead of using the term ‘intranet’ you also used variations such as online environment, content management, accredited content, digital workplace, or inside the firewall, it will not have the same impact or findability (It will also be very confusing and possibly inaccurate too but you get the point I am making!).

So, using these tips helps people to find your content and by doing this add to its value because of the extra thought and effort you have made when publishing it.

It’s March…so it must be IntraTeam 2013

Like when the crocuses and snowdrops are followed by daffodils flowering in spring, the IntraTeam conferences in Copenhagen is a key part of my intranet calendar in March.  This will be my third time at this conference but my first purely as a delegate and not as a speaker.  I’m really looking forward to absorbing the knowledge to be gained, networking with existing friends while making new ones, and feeling the pulse of where intranets and digital workplaces are going next!

So, what does IntraTeam 2013 have in store for us from 5 -7 March?  Well it has its own Twitter hashtag #iec13 so please follow that if you haven’t already.

To start with on 5 March there is a full day of workshops covering the digital workplace, mobile video, transforming intranets, and HR portal.  Quite a variety to choose from.

That sets us up nicely for the main course on 6 and 7 March with the main speaker sessions.  Starting with Jane McConnell and her Digital Workplace Trends 2013, we move on over the two days to cover corporate intranets, gamification, storytelling, social video, mobile intranet, search and much, much, more!

For dessert we have the legendary networking dinners where Kurt Kragh Sørensen, Owner, IntraTeam A/S @IntraTeam plays host to a great experience of fun, laughter, and great conversation on intranets.

It’s giving me quite an appetite before I have even arrived!

This conference will give you ideas on how to communicate, share knowledge and create value with your intranet, SharePoint solution and enterprise search.

It’s a great opportunity not to be missed.

BT Intranet SharePoint 2010 examples

I have read a lot about what SharePoint 2010 can do but I have seen few examples of it being used with an intranet.  When I was the BT Intranet manager I was heavily involved in the strategy, plans and implementation of SP2010.  It was the biggest change to BT’s intranet since it’s creation.  It is a huge programme as BT migrates all its existing content from the publishing tools it is using now for document and content management as well as collaborative tools like wikis and blogs.  I’m going to show you examples of how SP2010 is being used on BT’s intranet.  These were shown to Intranet Benchmarking Forum members at the SP2010 Special Interest Group.

You may find more help from my SharePoint page.  You can also contact me for more help.

BT’s Knowledge Management and Collaboration (KMC) programme has formal BT Board approval and has published its strategy setting out the priorities and timelines.  The KMC programme has a governance model so the implementation is effective, well managed and you can see how the different boards fit together and their responsibilities.

First priority has been on sharing knowledge more easily.  You can choose SP2010′s people finding tool from an index list on the global navigation bar at the top of every page on the BT Intranet.

This links to MyProfile which is like the existing Directory but has flexibility for you to add more information about yourself to help people.  By clicking on ‘Browse in organisation chart’ you can move from MyProfile to MySite and can see how your role fits within BT and relates to other people.

MySite has several tabs including one for Whereabouts so people can see what you are doing.  This information is automatically downloaded from your Outlook calendar.  Another tab, Overview, enables people to see topics and skills you can help others with.

MySite content shows to people with the right permissions what you have published in SP2010.  This helps people to find others who have a shared interest without any extra effort needed by you.

People using SP2010 for the first time will go to the Welcome page for SP2010.  We don’t mention the technology in the title but what it helps people to do.  There is a lot of information shown but new users say this is what they need at this stage.

You can request to publish on a TeamSite for project work or document sharing.  It will extend to other needs as SP2010 replaces existing publishing tools and what activity they help people to do.

There is a help site for anyone using SP 2010.  It helps anyone using SharePoint 2010 for anything rather than just publishing.

All these examples are shown in this slide presentation.

SharePoint 2010 special interest group

I recently met with other members of the Intranet Benchmarking Forum who are planning to or implementing SharePoint 2010.

My take on the meeting was how many issues we had in common – whether from a technical or business perspective.  The main issues were governance, engagement and cost savings.  There were others raised but these seemed the main ones to me.

Governance

Well, I realise I am not the only one who is learning as I go on what is the best governance model to use.  And there is still very little ‘expert opinion’ available that I really trust to follow apart from an IBF report by Martin White which is really helpful about SP2010 generally but sadly has only 2 pages on governance.

You need a model that takes account of the different publishing needs – formal, accredited type content as well as collaborative – and the whole lifetime of SP2010.  The model needs to cover the roles and responsibilities for everyone who uses SP2010.

The role of site collection administrator is critical to  this.  Giving it to everyone isn’t right – neither is it if no-one has that authority.  Somewhere in between feels best with enhanced permissions for people to publish and set permissions for what other people can do with the content on the site collection.

Engagement

Rule no.1, no.2, no.3, etc – make sure the first impression people have of SP2010 is always a good one!

The first implementations of SP2010 in organisations seem to be around collaboration, social networking to improve engagement between people and with the organisation.  Better engagement = committed + more productive people.  So rolling out People Finder helps you search for other people.

MyProfile means when you find the person, apart from the automatically updated content shown such as contact details, place in the organisation, etc, you have the opportunity to add information that sets you apart from others like on Facebook and LinkedIn.

I recommend you seriously consider implementing MySite at the same time as MyProfile.  You need to be very careful what permissions you give people (site collection administrator issues!) but the benefits of the extra features should outweigh the drawbacks.

Cost savings

The wider benefits can only be gained if you think big with how you use SP2010.  By this I mean replacing existing tools and technology that is dated, expensive, hard to maintain so you show large savings.

By using SP2010 to replace content and document management tools as well as collaboration you gain the wider benefits of SP2010 integration, full range of features and consistency.  It can give a much better overall experience for everyone.

So, that’s my take on this SP2010 meeting.  I’ll share my presentation slides in my next post.  What’s your view from first hand experience of SP2010?

Intellact: BT’s customer insight and information site

There are a few ‘killer applications and content’ which have driven the usage of BT’s intranet.  As well as the BT Homepage – our corporate portal, BT Today – our new sites and Directory – our people finder, Intellact, BT’s customer insight and market portal has been key to achieveing this.

Intellact provides a wealth of insight on the communications industry. Thousands of people in all parts of BT use these services to:

  • Help understand customer needs and satisfaction.
  • Monitor the global press – daily updates on business trends.
  • Support business propositions.

Comprehensive, up-to-date, high quality research helps people make their decisions with:

  • Business news
  • IT research and advice
  • BT commissioned market research
  • Broker research
  • Industry sector research
  • Internet audience measurement

Business news is updated several times per day on Intellact.  You can sign up to receive an email that reviews the days top news from UK and international newspapers, journals and newswires.

Intellact offers an unrivalled collection of published research covering ICT and other industry sectors with the option to contact analysts for further details. 

Intellact can be searched in various ways and you can set up alerts so when a new research is available you are informed so you don’t miss anything.

Intellact helps BT give people what they need for their business needs and a competitive edge to BT.

Have a look at these Intellact examples.

Designing intranets: a ‘must read’

I have just finished reading ‘Designing intranets – Creating sites that work’, the latest book written by James Robertson.  For those of you who have seen James present or read his blog posts, you will know he gives a clear view to help you – whether you agree with it or not.

James is one of the most knowledgeable people in the world on intranets. He has used this experience to write this book.

Whether you are new to intranets or, like me, involved as an intranet manager for years, this book will be very useful to you.

This book will cover all you need to know to be able to create intranet sites that work. And it is the ‘sites that work’ words that make this book different to others. It is more than just a pleasing design. It is what else is needed to be researched, planned and created too that will make your time and effort better spent. Even more, you want the people using your intranet to get the best out of it. This book helps you to do just that!

I have found it helps reinforce why BT’s intranet is like it is and why the things I do are important such as:

As I write this blog post ‘Designing intranets’ is by my side. Some parts of James’ book are looking well used already as I’ve thumbed through them several times for tips to help me!

Why not treat yourself? Read James’ book and help make your life easier and your intranet better by reading James’ book.

An A-Z of BT’s Intranet

In my last post ‘Great intranets help make efficient people’ I talked briefly about the BT A-Z.  BT Intranet users find this a very useful service helping them to quickly find a site.

Research of people in BT finds they navigate to what they need from the BT Homepage by using the search engine, deep linking from the many headings grouped functionally or use the BT A-Z.

People who use the BT A-Z have a reasonable idea they know the site exists and what its name could be.  Cross-referencing of sites helps people to find it under more than one letter.

I’ve shown what the BT A-Z is in these examples.

The BT Homepage sets out the BT A-Z in one horizontal line with plenty of space between each letter to save users one click if there was just a BT A-Z heading and be able to easily get the letter they need (slide 1).

For each link in the BT A-Z, there is a heading followed by a simple explanation of what it points to so people know before they click on it if it is likely to be what they are looking for (slide 2).

On the left hand side of every page of the BT A-Z are icons which help to show to users what to expect when they click on the link (slides 2-4).

As well as giving people a full list of sites, if you know it is just information or a service you need for that letter you can choose that option from right hand menu to reduce what you need to check (slides 3 and 4).

If you have mobile/PDA access, you can still use the BT A-Z and see a list of sites to click on with (most important!) a mobile icon against those which will support that type of access (slide 5).

Integrate your intranet to be the preferred way to work

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 two examples are about our content – IBF said all pages across BT’s intranet contain author and date information – and 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.

My next example is how you integrate your intranet to be the preferred way of working for everyone in your organisation.  IBF said BT’s intranet has a wide range of activities, heavily used and with high satisfaction levels.

So, how has BT achieved this for it’s intranet?  The following steps have helped BT and can help you:

  1. Identify content people prefer to see online.  Publish it online and make people aware of this.  Make sure you switch off any paper versions.
  2. Makes sure you have a set of standards that show how users will have a great experience.  This needs to cover design, layout, features which give confidence to people in the integrity of the content like review dates.
  3. Measure how satisfied people are with your intranet generally and with specific areas and try to identify trends for future use.
  4. Align your intranet strategy and your organisation’s so you are providing what it needs to underpin it’s approach whether it is reducing costs, improving flexible working, etc.
  5. Make it easy to find by having a good search engine and other ways like an A-Z of sites or navigation bar.

Two comments from users show BT is succeeding. “It’s a no brainer – you can’t do your job without the intranet” and “the intranet is the key channel”.

You can too by following these steps……..