Tag Archives: Mark Morrell

The Digital Workplace: How technology is liberating work

Many of you who follow my blog will know of my interest in the digital workplace.  From my first-hand experience transforming BT’s digital workplace and involvement with other organisations it is a very exciting area to work in.  So it was great to hear about this book!

Paul Miller’s book ‘The Digital Workplace: How technology is liberating work’ is an absolute must read for anyone interested in finding out how technology is changing the way we work for everyone on the planet.

The way Paul Miller writes it from his own experiences and view of life – working and personal – makes it compelling to read.  The examples Paul uses are ones we can all relate too and are real, not made up to fit a theoretical scenario.

I loved the format of the book.  If like me you sometimes put a book down and pick it up a little later you won’t lose your thread and have to read back over the last few pages.  In fact it is split into sections that are easy to use and refer back to again and again about the digital workplace.  I found the ‘top 10 digital workplace benefits, challenges, etc.’ very good for focusing on the key points of each section.

It’s good to see Paul Miller share his expertise and enthusiasm with us in this book.  I’m fortunate to know Paul so I realise every word is sincerely meant to help you, the reader.

It’s impossible to get serious about the digital workplace without reading and absorbing the ideas and examples in this book which is available to buy through Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Barnes & Noble.com.

You should also visit the Digital Workplace Forum to find out out more information and how it can help you and your organisation.

Digital Workplace: work anywhere, anytime, with anything

I will be at the IntraTeam 2012 conference in Copenhagen this week presenting on 5 ‘Must Have’ Principles for a Great Digital Workplace and running a workshop on How to Build the Right Governance Model for the Digital Workplace. For Twitter users follow #IEC12.

The digital workplace is a phrase that I have written about before and is becoming more frequently used for intranets that are developing beyond being a traditional communications tool. For me a digital workplace can include:

  • employees working from any location (or mobile) as their place of work
  • IT infrastructure providing the same or similar experience wherever someone uses the digital workplace
  • employees collaborating, searching, and completing tasks as well as reading the latest news
  • employees choosing how to do ‘things’ – RSS, mobile, etc. – that help them
  • organisations measuring the benefits and encouraging employees to use the digital workplace

I define a digital workplace as ‘work is what you do, not where you go to’. To have a successful digital workplace it is vital organisations have the right strategy, culture, environment and infrastructure to exploit the benefits fully. It needs to become the natural way of working so employees are more effective and productive and your organisation is more efficient and successful.

Find out how five principles can help you to work in a digital workplace, how to use my experience to help you and how to contact me for further help.

Help with intranets, digital workplaces, collaboration and SharePoint

Thinking about what is the best way to implement SharePoint 2010?

Are you looking for good examples of managing intranets?

Are you planning how to transform your digital workplace?

Maybe you want to use collaboration tools to increase employee engagement?

Now you can find helpful information on all these areas in one site.  It combines my first-hand experience managing BT’s intranet with my knowledge and help improving other intranets to show how you can improve your intranets and digital workplaces.

If I can help you further please contact me whenever you want to.

10 ways to increase intranet adoption

Since 1996 I have been pioneering the best ways to increase adoption of new tools on the intranet.  For the 9 years as the BT Intranet manager and since then as a consultant, I have experienced different ways organisations have encouraged adoption of technology.  My top 10 ways are:

Research what people need

Ask what their biggest pain points are.  What could be made easier?  What is missing from the intranet?  What is good and they want more of?

Prioritise improvements

How important is the task to the person and to their organisation?  How many people are affected by this?  How frequently is it happening?

Early adopters to become ambassadors

Identify adopters who have the most urgent need to try something new to solve a business problem.  Involve adopters in proposed changes as early as possible to get their buy-in.  Satisfied adopters will be your best ambassadors and spread the word.

Make the first experience a good experience

You need to encourage not discourage usage to avoid unnecessary costs in extra effort.  Act on early adopters’ feedback.  Test with usability experts.  Compare with existing best practice.

Advance communications so no nasty surprises

Manage peoples’ expectations.  Clearly explain what it is you are offering and where they can get advice, training and help.

Consistent navigation

Give people a bridge from wherever they were on your intranet to get to another part more easily.  Show the same headings and position on every page.  Find out what are the best navigation headings that would help people most.

Personalise and target information

Give people the relevant information they need.  Give people the applications they need to use.  Give people confidence their personal information is secure.

Embed standards into templates

Reduce the barrier for publishing. Make it as easy as possible to do.  Focus on what is important – the quality of the information – not how to use the technology.  Consistently apply governance.  Embed standards in the templates.

Compliance tools give users confidence

Standards need to be enforced when publishers’ behaviour falls below best practice.  Compliance tools enforce important standards – business, regulatory and legal requirements –  and minimise time and administration.  Users’ confidence in the integrity of the information must not  be compromised.

Clear responsibilities and roles

Who is responsible for managing the intranet strategy, standards, IT infrastructure?  What should everyone involved – publishers, contributors – need to do?  Align intranet roles with performance management and job descriptions.

Intranets are still very much alive!

I read with interest the blog posts by Tony Byrne ‘Death of the Intranet‘ and by Martin White ‘Death of the Intranet: ‘The Times They are a-changin’‘.  They are both interesting posts with provocative titles to catch the attention.  It has caused some great discussions about intranets which is great.  The biggest and most negative reaction I found has been from intranet practitioners who feel it is an over reaction and not how they see things.

Having recently been an intranet practitioner as the BT Intranet manager before becoming a consultant, I can see the subject from both points of view.  I believe intranets are still live and kicking  To adapt the famous quotation by Mark Twain after hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal “The reports of the death of the intranet are greatly exaggerated” in my opinion.

Continually evolving

I believe intranets are naturally evolving and maturing.  Over the past 15 years intranets have been called many different names.  Intranets have needed to adapt to changes in technology, different business requirements and climates.  But they are still here and thriving.  The digital workplace is a wider environment that intranets will be a vital component of.  Yet another evolution for intranets to absorb and adapt to.

Wikipedia says ‘Increasingly, intranets are being used to deliver tools and applications, e.g., collaboration (to facilitate working in groups and teleconferencing) or sophisticated corporate directories, sales and customer relationship management tools, project management etc., to advance productivity.  Intranets are also being used as corporate culture-change platforms. For example, large numbers of employees discussing key issues in an intranet forum application could lead to new ideas in management, productivity, quality, and other corporate issues.’  I agree with that from my experience of how intranets generally are being used.

Different tools to access intranets like mobiles won’t end the intranet.  It’s just another opportunity to show how adaptable intranet can be in providing the information people need while on the move from their smartphones.  Intranets are still the bloodstream for information and applications, properly managed and accessible any time, any place, any where and more and more using any device, that employees need to do their work each day.

Passionate practitioners

I am writing a report about how the passion showed by intranet practitioners about their organisation’s intranet that they manage can help accelerate improvements.  I believe it is the personality as well as the abilities of an intranet manager that can help achieve more.  Intranet practitioners know better now than ever before how to feel the pulse of their intranet and organisation it supports.

I recall in my previous role how I would champion again and again something I believed passionately about would improve BT by its adoption sometimes against sceptical line management as well as partners like IT and some stakeholders.  Of course, judgement is critical as your reputation will suffer if you keep getting it wrong.  My point is that passionate intranet role models are being created which other intranet practitioners can benefit from and will continue to help intranets improve in the years ahead, not die.

The development of the digital workplace will be seen not as a threat but more as an opportunity for two reasons:

  1. The intranet will fit well within the digital workplace and grow in influence on the back of it as more senior stakeholders see how the organisation will benefit from adoption.
  2. The digital workplace role will be another step an intranet practitioner can consider when looking for their next career move (more on this in a later post).

Increasing relevance

Intranet managers don’t feel intranets are dying – quite the opposite in fact.  They believe intranets are moving into a more critical role for the organisations they support.  More and more they are seen as providing a business critical role.  This is a long way from just being another communications channels.  While I see intranets that are struggling to show value and be taken seriously by their senior stakeholders, there are many intranets growing in value and championed by practitioners who have learnt how to seek support and sponsorship and can talk the language of the business not just the technology.

I believe senior stakeholders, as with intranets, have matured in the last few years.  They understand better how intranets have added value, shown benefits in the wider sense and don’t think in straitjacket terms of just ‘return on investment’ so loved by Finance for business case submissions.

For me intranets are a living organism at the heart of organisations, managed by passionate people and increasingly championed by senior stakeholders who ‘get it’ about intranets and can see how they will continue in the wider digital workplace that is unfolding now.

How do I engage employees and improve collaboration?

It’s  the type of question I am hearing more frequently.  It’s being asked by intranet people, CIOs, senior business operations managers and even a few CEOs.  It’s important that it is answered clearly and fully.  The alternative of ignoring it is to risk a repeat of what happened to knowledge management in the late 1990s when it was ‘the thing’ to talk about and be seen to be doing but sadly, in many cases, never able to meet its full potential helping businesses.

I don’t claim to know all the answers and there is more than one way to address this question.  In fact it is a deeper and complex subject which needs covering for this question to be answered fully.

Based on my knowledge and experience in my new role as an intranet pioneer and as BT’s intranet manager with intranet governance, social media, engagement and digital workplace I will post my suggestions on how you can:

  • engage people in your organisation
  • encourage better collaboration
  • get the culture right
  • adapt to changing ways of working
  • make an impact on the bottom line that your business watches

James Robertson’s London masterclass ‘Designing intranets that work’

James Robertson will be running a masterclass ‘Designing intranets that work’ in London, UK, on 17th October.  For anyone like me who has seen James talking about intranets, he is a great performer and fantastic value.  He is very entertaining and forthright in his views!  He also has amazing knowledge on intranets and a unique take on how they can work best.  What James doesn’t know about designing a usable intranet that works for staff isn’t worth writing about.

As James says “The biggest complaint from staff in many organisations: I can’t find anything on the intranet! If intranets aren’t easy to use, with great navigation and search, there’s little point in having them. To ensure that new or redesigned intranets really are easy to use, we need to involve staff in the design process.”  Hear, hear!

James has been very helpful to me and I have learnt a great deal from hearing him speak with such passion about intranets.

So please book a place if you want to see James Robertson in person, need help with your intranet or just want to heckle him about England beating Australia in the Ashes cricket series (Which one? So many to choose from! ;-))

You won’t be disappointed.  That is certain!