Tag 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.

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. :)

 

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.

Redefining productivity in the Digital Workplace

The way people do their work is shifting from a physical workplace to a digital workplace.  This gives organisations an enormous opportunity to change their business model and create competitive advantage by deciding early how to take advantage of the digital workplace.

From my own experiences and knowledge I can see the risks if organisations delay and or make the wrong decisions.  I have blogged about this in the past and how it affects engaged people are in their organisation, how effective collaboration will be and whether tools like SharePoint 2010 will help.

I have just read a great whitepaper written by Stephan Schillerwein on ‘The Digital Workplace: Redefining Productivity in the Information Age’ which offers a business perspective on the future of information and knowledge-based work practices and technologies in organisations.

Stephan says “Today, information-related work constitutes the number one activity for any organization – both from a quantitative as well as from a qualitative perspective. And despite decades of investment in information technology, information and information work is still badly managed and a source of unparalleled waste in employee productivity.

The Internet has reshaped industries, changed the way business is done and affected all areas of our lives. If the Internet were an industry sector, its weight on GDP would be larger than any of the industries of mining, utilities, agriculture, communication or education.

The same cannot be said for internal systems and practices in dealing with information, like for example intranets and the many other information management tools that exist in enterprises today. Their impact on organizations is in no way comparable to that of the Internet and the impact it has had on all aspects of human life and activity.

It therefore seems fair to say, that while mankind, as such, has definitely moved into the information age, organizations have done so only in very limited ways. This impacts productivity and performance in major ways and to a significant extent – even if not always visible to our eyes which typically still evaluate information-based work using the bygone standards of industrial age business orthodoxies.”

Anyone who has an interest in the digital workplace, engagement, search and collaboration will find this worth reading.

I am now intranet-pioneer.com

It is now easier for you to find my site and blog. You just need to go to intranet-pioneer.com.

Why intranet-pioneer?

Well, I believe I am an intranet pioneer combining strategic thinking with implementation skills.  Over many years I have developed intranet strategies and have first-hand practical experience of implementing major technology and change projects.

As the former BT Intranet manager, I transformed BT’s intranet into one of the best intranets globally for governance, engagement and collaboration also measuring the full value BT’s intranet contributed.

Now I have my own business, Mark Morrell Ltd.  As an intranet pioneer I can help you with your intranet strategy, governance, standards and use of collaboration tools.  I can also share with you my knowledge and experience of SharePoint 2010, the digital workplace and other intranet topics.

And the ‘-’ makes it better for search engine optimisation in case you wondered. :-)

My special thanks to Jane McConnell for all her help.

SharePoint strategy + implementation – ask a pioneer!

Are you planning to start using SharePoint 2010?
Do you need help with your SP2010 implementation?
Are you unsure of your SP2010 governance, standards, strategy?
Are you unsure how to use SP2010 for collaboration, content management, document management or search?
Are you looking at alternatives to SP2010?

If you have answered yes, maybe just nodded your head slightly, then I can help and work with you.

I have first-hand SP2010 experience of planning right the way through to post-implementation……and have got the scars to prove it!

Whether you need a call, demonstration (online or face to face), workshop, training, consultancy or implemention, I can help.

So just let me know by a comment, email – markmorrell.ltd@gmail com, Skype (mark.morrell58), call +44 (0) 771 338 5309 or even visit me in Brighton! :-)

Why not use my first-hand experience and wider intranet knowledge for your benefit?

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).