Tag Archives: rss

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.

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.

Free live demo of BT’s intranet

I’ve just realised this is my 100th post (how have you suffered so many you ask yourselves?).  When I look back at my first post I realise how much has happened with BT’s intranet that I have posted about.

Anyway, this is not a nostalgic post but a free offer.  Yes, there is such a thing as a ‘free (BT) lunch’ on offer for you!

On 2-3 June the Intranet Benchmarking Forum are holding a free, online, 24 hour virtual tour of many organisations’ intranets.  It’s called IBF24.  You can find out more by clicking on the IBF24 link.

BT’s intranet will be the first shown on the tour.  I will be demonstrating BT’s intranet and taking questions around 12:30 UK time for about 30-40 minutes.

So you have a chance to see how BT has benefited from the social media tools I have posted about before like BTpedia, Blog Central, BT Today, RSS and podcasting.

If you don’t get a chance to ask a question please comment on this post and I’ll reply.

I’m looking forward to IBF24.  I hope you can join me.

Successfully transforming BT’s intranet using social media

I will be speaking at the Advanced Intranet and Portals conference in Amsterdam held on 27 and 28 May.  It aims to ‘Connect your employees to anybody, anywhere, and drive business growth through social media, Web 2.0 and collaboration tools whilst increasing employee usability and engagement’.

I will use Twitter to share any nuggets of knowledge that I uncover while attending the conference.  Already there is a lot of interest around Sharepoint 2010 which BT is planning to use.

My presentation will cover:

  • Analysing the need to use social media tools and knowing how to get it adopted in your organisation
  • Drawing up guidelines to minimise the information, security, legal and brand risks
  • Selecting an effective governance strategy that minimises risk and increases adoption
  • Studying whether a social media working group and/or Chief Social Media Officer will enhance internal promotion, adoption rates and general management
  • Meeting the demand from younger and new users
  • Overcoming internal barriers and resistance
  • Weighing up the benefits from social media

If you are not able to attend you can view my presentation slides here.

The social intranet at BT

The presentation that may never be heard or seen!  

I was invited by the Quadriga University in Berlin to present on the social intranet at BT.  Sadly the travel disruption caused by volcanic ash means it has been cancelled until a later date in 2010.

With the development of social media tools, intranets have become more than a depository of information and established themselves as platforms of dialogue.

My presentation covers:

I hope you find it of interest online without me talking about it. :-)

BT today – BT’s great intranet news site

I’ve mentioned in previous posts BT today as BT’s main intranet news site for the latest news affecting everyone in BT.  But I don’t feel I’ve given it full justice until now.  The problem is where to start as it has so much to offer!

BT today was one of the first sites on BT’s intranet when it was launched in 1994.  It meant people could find out the latest news, whenever they wanted to and reduced the overload (and cost) of information being sent to everyone each day.

Since it’s launch BT today has been one of the most popular sites on BT’s intranet.  BT raises several tens of thousands of pounds from digital advertising on the site.  It has now grown to include:

I’ve shared some examples of BT today for you to see these.

Along with BT Homepage and Directory, the BT today news site is one of the key sites that encouraged people to start using the BT Intranet.  Offering a wider range of news services has encouraged people to use it more, and more frequently.

Future plans include more use of photos for each story, larger photos where suitable for stories and people able to comment on each story.

Blog Central – BT’s intranet blog

I have posted before about simple steps to setting up a wiki and the next stages when it is established.  My last post updated you about BTpedia, our wiki.  I thought it would also help if I showed you where Blog Central is now.

Blog Central was created in 2008.  Beta testing with users has led to a small application becoming a critical place for people to share how to do things in BT.

Without advertising or publicity it has grown to over 350 blogs and is linked from the BT Homepage and searched like other content areas.

I have some slides with examples of how Blog Central is now.  They show:

  1. Blog Central linked directly from BT Homepage, top level of BT’s intranet
  2. Blog Central searched by SearchBT, BT’s intranet search engine for most content
  3. BT A-Z includes Blog Central with other content types
  4. Blog Central homepage
  5. Disclaimer for user generated content
  6. BT’s policy on internal and external business and personal blogs
  7. Help on how to be a good blogger
  8. A post from Sandy Blair’s internal blog (thanks Sandy)
  9. A post from our Publishing business blog.

I hope these help you with your intranet blogging.  Let me know what you think…………

Social networking on BT’s and other intranets

In Jakob Neilsen’s latest Alertbox, he covers BT’s intranet and 13 others in a report.  BT’s intranet has embedded wikis, blogs, podcasts and RSS feeds so they are available to every user as part of their normal intranet experience every day.  He says:

Community features are spreading from “Web 2.0″ to “Enterprise 2.0.” Research across 14 companies found that many are making productive use of social intranet features.

Through several rounds of research on intranet portals, we’ve repeatedly reached the same conclusions:

  • When Intranet information architectures are structured according to the org chart, employees have a hard time finding their way around. It’s better to structure information according to how people use it, rather than what department owns it.
  • Role-based personalization lets portals bring information to users in centralized views, rather than forcing users to navigate an immense information space to find individual (and dispersed) locations.

Social features on intranets Community features are spreading from “Web 2.0″ to “Enterprise 2.0.” Research across 14 companies found that many are making productive use of social intranet features.

All intranet content is not the same

I have realised that I’ve blogged about BT’s intranet strategy; our blogs and wikis; publishing tools and our 2009/10 action plan.  But so far I have not covered the different types of content that people publish and use on our intranet in much detail.

Content on the BT Intranet is divided into four different types, to enable information to be managed appropriately and allow users to separate fact from comment.  A fifth category covers services, which are online processes where people do tasks to fulfil their roles.

The categories are:


Formal content is authoritative, reliable & up to date.  People will able to use it with confidence, knowing it is current and relevant.  It is usually information that has a large audience, probably line of business or BT-wide.  

A limited number of people can edit the information, with access controlled by permissions.  People have to undergo mandatory training and need to ask permission to publish.  Usually one person will have clear ownership.

Formal content will usually be found on a web site that is managed via the content management system.  All of the publishing standards are mandatory for formal content.


A group of people will usually own team content, with shared responsibility for editing and ownership.  It can be permission driven, with editors clearly identified, or it can be open for anyone to edit, and possibly require a managed environment.  Team content will usually be for a defined audience, which in some cases could still be all of BT.

Team content will usually be found on one of the collaboration platforms, such as SharePoint.  Most of the online publishing standards are mandatory for team content.


Many of the publishing standards are optional for personal content and will be managed by the publishing platforms.  People do not have to undergo mandatory training and do not need to ask permission to publish.

Crowd-sourced content is community owned information, with an open environment for anyone to edit and contribute.  The management of the information is less stringent because low levels of trust are required.

Many of the publishing standards are optional for crowd content and will be managed by the publishing platforms, such as BTpedia.  People do not have to undergo mandatory training and do not need to ask permission to publish.


Personal content will usually be opinion based content, owned by an individual, who will be the only editor.  It will have very light governance but will be open to a wide audience who can comment on the content.  Personal content will be on platforms such as Blog Central.

I’ll post about the training our publishers need to do for some types of content next.