Summary: my take on 2 days at the conference ‘INTRA.reloaded – From communication to collaboration’ (April 17/18 2012, Berlin). In an increasing number of companies the ‘intranet’ is more and more seen as a potential starting point to create a operational workspace. Optimizing information access and transparency and motivating collaboration are the key drivers at the moment. Still: there is no blue print available yet. However, the thoughts and belief are moving in the right direction and the ones in charge become more persistent in their will to support employees in achieving their goals and improve their access to experts and expertise.
Bridging companies and customers
An increasing number of companies is rolling out services to connect their customers with the organization. Either for the purpose of service or for going after improvements and innovation the wall between corporation and customer seems to become less solid. Particularly successful seem to be the endeavors in which corporate leaders (aka C suite) are involved as sponsor and in which they acknowledge the multi-folded value of such an initiative.
Increase value and involvement with internal services
The tendency was clear: modern intranets have to be value adding workspaces, whereas today most portals still serve the purpose of information distribution and corporate communications. Servicing the right information at the right time to the right user in order create real work support is an endeavor some companies have started to pursue. People in charge are much more conscious of the importance of (unfortunately rarely executed) renovation work for information architecture and taxonomies. Otherwise the automation of digital services to become situation aware work tools will always experience data quality (= findability) as the major limitation. ‘Rubbish in, rubbish out’ is understood – at least my most protagonists.
Consciousness for active change management
Guiding employees through change with marketing style activities or dedicated advocates and community managers is really fashionable now. Just throwing a piece of IT at employees hoping that the majority of them will catch it and find some reason behind has been identified as a ‘no go’ – in particular by the reps of IT departments I was able to speak to. That management has to get involved and play an active part in the change and execution process is definitely perceived as a key success factor.
Asking the right questions
What’s still challenging is the way of figuring out the right starting point and how to bridge vision and reality. Throughout the conference I had the feeling that user and challenge centric thinking is still overruled by the quest for the right tool. It’s functionality (e.g. microblogging) that is introduced to employees – not a service that resonates to a particular challenge and thereby automatically makes its use obvious to employees. The tendency however, is definitely a move towards more user focussed approaches.
Summing it up: the future for information and knowledge workers looks brighter than three years ago. As soon as companies have overcome their internal blockage that only ERP projects can be funded with three digit millions the future will be even brighter. To unleash the potential that’s currently buried in the heads of talented people and network drives new ways for information distribution, retrieval and enrichment have to make their way into organizations. Getting some inspiration from social and commercial media seems to be a good idea because a lot of references at the conference were made in that direction.
I would like to close with the advise of our last speaker @d_ott: decentralize, simplify, advise & train…and be nice to your users.
I couldn’t agree more
In case you’re interested in my presentation at the conference on the future of information work at Tieto including the socialization of our own intranet…here it is: