How to be better digital workplace professionals

Are you still buzzing from IBF 24 like me?  I’m thinking about how to improve digital workplaces inspired by the great examples shown and discussed.  I’m also thinking how digital workplace people are recognised more for the role we do.

On IBF 24 in 2010 I had a great discussion with Mark Tilbury, William Amurgis and Christy Season.  A LinkedIn group, Intranet Career Path, was created to help digital workplace career progression especially within an organisation.  I also acted on my own advice to become a digital workplace freelancer to widen my knowledge, skills and experience! 🙂

On this year’s IBF 24 I again discussed with Christy and Mark how we can improve career prospects for digital workplace people and continued this discussion on Twitter.  My take on the discussions came down to three ideas.  What are your thoughts on them?

Training for new digital workplace people 

People become digital workplace professionals for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes it is a planned career move, a natural progression maybe from communications or you just stumble into this role by accident.

There is help out there: books by Martin White, Michael Sampson and James Robertson; training from Clearbox Consulting; wiki/book project I’m helping Kristian Norling and James Royal-Lawson with.  But it isn’t easy to find out what learning exists or someone to help you unless your organisation belongs to the Intranet Benchmarking Forum, Step Two, IntraTeam or J Boye communities.

We need:

  • More training on digital workplace principles, standards, skills, role and contribution to an organisation’s success
  • It more easily available either online or provided by new or existing learning providers who understand the digital workplace.
  • It to be consistent and transferable from one country to another.

Professional qualifications that are recognised widely

I am not aware of a professional qualification that covers the digital workplace.  I know there are several discussions and plans for an academy or qualification but nothing exists yet.

We need:

  • A recognised academic route to a professional qualification.
  • Our individual knowledge and skills recognised in a collective way globally.
  • The professional qualification to be accepted by businesses and seen to be of value by senior business executives.

Business qualifications cover digital workplace

Small businesses seem to ‘get it’ better about the value digital workplace professionals contribute.  I’m sure the frequency of direct contact with CEOs and Directors helps greatly to achieve this.  For larger organisations it is more difficult to achieve that visibility.  It is also hard sometimes to show what a digital workplace professional brings to an organisation.

We need:

  • Important business qualifications to include the contribution of the digital workplace.
  • The value digital workplace professionals add.
  • Acceptance by senior executives of the need for digital workplace prefessionals and succession planning.

So, is this the right approach?  What are the next steps?  Who can help?

13 responses to “How to be better digital workplace professionals

  1. Hi Mark – they are some good suggestions there that I agree with. I recently posted an article with similar theme – that is, digital workplace professionals need to work together to build their skills and expertise. I mentioned Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule and how we need to put in that number of hours to become experts.

    I think it is still early days for the digital workplace as a profession, but none-the-less there are things we can start doing to accelerate the process.

    The article is below:
    The problem with intranets…

    • Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for your thoughts. Your blog post captures nicely the stage intranets have evolved. I have felt some days seem to be 10,000 hours long!

      It needs people like you who are prominent in the intranet/digital workplace space to help guide enthusiasts like myself on the direction and priorities.

      I posted to see if there was enough interest and willingness to get involved.

      I’m not convinced by the response so far that there is.

      I’ll wait and see unless you have other thoughts.


  2. Hi Mark, you must have seen my “cry for help” in the Intranet Career Path group on LinkedIn some time earlier. Yes, I totally agree with the need for an official seal of approval. 🙂
    I agree with Andrew that this is a relatively new and rapidly developing field, so there’s no established path yet. Job titles is an issue as well, no standardization at all, many different job titles and even if you have the same title, you could be doing different things altogether!.
    But, I have learned that if you complain, you also have to try to do something about it, so I will be happy to help with some pragmatic things.
    I am currently blogging about the value that “doing more with Sharepoint” can bring to an organization, and that is knowledge that I could transform into a “training module”. Next to that, I would be happy to brainstorm on a curriculum for a training.
    But getting accreditation and things like that is really not my strength.
    So, let me know if I can be of help somehow.

    Do More With Sharepoint:

    • Ellen,

      Thanks for your comments. i like your blog post on SharePoint – very topical and helpful.

      The examples you give like standardising on job titles would be a good step forward but I don’t know how we do that or if there is a willingess amongst intranet professionals to do this.

      Happy to involve you if/when time is right.


  3. If you’re looking for ‘digital workplace’ qualifications, take a look at this:

    There are other courses like this around if you look. But you don’t need to invent something new.

    • Hi James,

      Excellent! It’s how it becomes available to other parts of the world or online so everyone can take advantage the same as people in Australia that’s the next steps.

      Thanks for the information – really useful.


  4. @mark – check the way the program is delivered:

    ~80% of MBT participants choose to study entirely via interactive online classes. The course is actually designed for working professionals and you study from anywhere in the world. The entry requirements are also flexible – ideal for intranet managers who may have fallen into their role.

  5. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for raising this issue. It seems to me that a useful starting point would be to map digital literacy competecies. This is not only helpful to define the role of digital media professional but also to help better articulate the “”maturity” of a digital workplace (ultimately, it seems to me, those competencies should be spread across the organisation). The University of Graz has a web literacy programme ( Here are some initial ideas of what a digital media competencies framework might look like All comments/suggestions most welcome

  6. Gabriele Sani

    I do agree with the need to find a better way to recognize the value of digital workplace experts, but in my experience professional qualifications fall short of providing the needed skills and recognition.

    I would put more emphasis on the second suggestion given at the end of the above post: let’s focus on defining some common standards of evaluation – with proven results recognition and funding will follow. The current challenge to this is that the concept of “digital workplace” is so vague and broad that Monitoring&Evaluation has become difficult to pin down. However, there are a set of goals that are fairly common. Not everyone will decide to pursue the same objectives, but this should be a decision made BEFORE an intranet is born. Once the targets are set, I trust that the community can identify best practices on how to define some measurables for each goal. With proven, concrete results, the rest will follow.

  7. @Gabriele there is room for all sorts of private certifications and training programs to provide tactical skills, when required. Really my point is that it is about mindset and world view. However, if you want to influence upwards then this comes down to a set of strategic inter-personal skills and business knowledge that you can’t standardise. There simply isn’t a tickbox route to getting the recognition you want.

  8. I think the work done by online Community Managers might have useful information.

    You might check out Richard Millington site, especially his recent resources post:

  9. I think this is a great post and found all the tips and links to be very helpful and useful… but as ‘digital professional’ roles are becoming more common in the workplace the one thing that is still not fully documented or easy to map is the core skills and competencies needed to progress your career in this field.

    For example there are many roles now available for Content Coordinators/Managers, Information Architects or event Intranet Manager etc but if one wants to progress to hold a more senior role in an organisation that would manage the Intranet among other aspects (for example a Director of Online Communications, Collaboration and Information Management, or even a Senior level consultant for Intranet Development), what is the career path and the core skills and competencies needed to reach that goal?

    • Hi Katrina,

      You are right. A methodology or just a more structured, consistent, approach is needed so core skills and competencies are accepted as needed for a good digital workplace professional.

      I haven’t done much since my post because I have tried all I can and really need other people to help move this forward so we can start to achieve this.

      Any suggestions on what is the next step please………………….anyone?!


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