Wow. Interaction 2012 Intranet Conference – was an event to remember!

Taking place over two days – the first a dedicated workshop for Interact Intranet Customers and the second, an intranet conference open to everyone with an interest in intranets – it was an event that was quoted as being a ‘must-attend’ for everyone involved in the intranet industry.

Day 1 – Customer Workshop

CEO and Founder, Nigel Danson opened the event and welcomed over 70 Interact Intranet customers to the event. Then we went straight into the first session, presented by Intranet Strategist, Steve Osborne – “Collaboration – Why, Why Not and How.”

Steve made sure he really woke everyone up at 9am and got people into the spirit of the event with an interactive session to demonstrate how it’s more likely for people to communicate with those who are close to you. Some customers were handed out “problem cards” and some “solution cards” with the aim of the game to match the problems to solutions – sounds easy! This practical exercise wasn’t to show how you can collaborate with others to solve problems but how face-to-face collaboration can be difficult and there are many barriers you can come across – talking to new people, coming out of your comfort zone.

Steve used a great analogy that compared people in organisations to squirrels and elephants. He compared the natural characteristics of squirrels hiding nuts, to how people can hide information. Elephants never forget the water hole and take others to it. People in organisations need to take their community to the intranet. We need elephants in our organisations!

Next up was Wendy Jordan, Internal Communications Co-ordintor at Glasgow Housing Association – Building ‘Holmes’ on Solid Foundations.

Wendy led an energetic presentation about her intranet journey and how she had two unsuccessful intranet launches in her organisation before Interact Intranet was implemented. She told us how in just the two months since launching her intranet into the organisation, which has more than 1600 staff – in 60 offices across Glasgow – it had completely changed her life. She explained how 80% of GHA staff work on the front line but they still have an 80% usage of the intranet!

In the afternoon there were sessions from the intranet consultants at Interact including Nigel Williams, Jo Sullivan and CEO Nigel Danson.

Nigel Williams‘ session – ‘I’m an Intranet Manager, Get Me Outta Here.‘ Attendees took part in practical tasks that highlighted the key issues intranet managers face throughout the lifecycle of the intranet and how to best tackle them when time is short and stakes are high.

Jo Sullivan, Intranet Consultant at Interact presented a snappy presentation demonstrating five core features of Interact Intranet that can be used to increase engagement and turn your intranet into an essential tool for your business. Tools including  the Photo Gallery which display images of events, products, people on your intranet; Interact Answers allows anyone to post a question whilst the Intranet intelligently provides the answer or recommends an expert who can.

A product roadmap was presented by Nigel Danson, which showcased the great new tools coming up in Interact Intranet over the next 12 months. Interact Intranet 5.2 will be launched in November which is built around telling you how your intranet is performing and giving you the advice and tools you need to create an essential intranet for your company.

Social Intranet Idol closed the day – where three lucky Interact Intranet users got the chance to pitch their intranet to the audience who then voted for their favourite which would be announced at the Interact Intranet Excellence Awards ceremony that evening.

See the Interact Intranet Excellence Awards winners here >>

Day 2 – Intranet Conference by Steven Osborne, Intranet Strategist

The Intranet Conference was a day of external keynote speakers featuring a stellar line-up of intranet speakers from around the world.

James Robertson kicked off the day with his keynote session entitled – ‘Intranets that Delight and Amaze’.

The intranet audience is a known one, they are not like a website with unknown audiences with unknown intentions – why then do so many fail to delight and amaze those that use them?
Intranets are changing from document graveyards to a collaborative space where people get things done.
What is a great intranet? Is it one that is:

  • less painful
  • less difficult
  • less annoying

Well yes, but is that enough? The aim should aim higher… and deliver intranets to delight and amaze.
James revealed his patented “Four principles that delight.”

  1. Emotional response (a positive one) ”Ugly doesn’t cut it” Loads of brilliant web designers that could have the skills use to enhance the look and feel of an intranet
  2. Make things simpler. Be focused on, “What do people need to do” and make it easier for those things to be done. Delivering services is a simple task to achieve. Field workers deserve their own intranet, not desktop but native variant for them. “Mobile intranets don’t have room for crap”
  3. Use tech in smart ways – integrating processes – better to have 1000 small ways rather than one leviathan
  4. Put people at the centre. Content is no longer king, the people are.

I would echo this and supplement it by adding “if you don’t put people at the centre then please step away from managing your intranet.”

James concluded by asking us to ask ourselves these questions about your intranet;

  1. Can it be made more attractive?
  2. Can I make it simpler
  3. Am I making smart use of technology
  4. Does it meet the needs of staff

Next up were the “Holy Quartet” from Intranetizen who delivered their fast paced ignite sessions based on some of their collective blogs from 2012.

The four members of Intranetizen took to the stage for 5 mins at Interaction – each giving an energetic burst of info and taking on the challenge of automated slides. As they were so fast paced a more leisurely consideration can be undertaken by requesting the slides from us >>

Martin White

Martin White spoke about the importance of Getting the Best of Virtual Teams and also highlighted the fact that often Virtual Teams are left without management – and this was a state of affairs that needed addressing.

Virtual Teams aren’t new and Martin defined them as a team “Where a member of the team is regularly not in the same location as everyone else.” It was often the case that teams were created and proceeded without very little or effective management or training and that teams often had to self-learn and often have little training.

Think about your intranet governance – what attention does it pay to how teams use it?
Martin’s key point was the fact that you need to acknowledge the fact that “Nothing about a virtual team is the same as a physical team.”
There are three dimensions to virtual teams:

• Organisational culture and language
• Geographic and spatial location
• Calendars and time

Each having an effect on the teams dynamics and productivity.

More information on the successful management of virtual teams can be found here >>

Sam Marshall – Loving the Intranet: Rethinking Employee Adoption

How do we encourage people to adopt new tools? Often the tech budget exceeds the people one, but if people are expected to use it then surely the resource dedicated to them should be addressed.

What gets in the way of adoption?

We just want to feel that we are getting somewhere, making progress and feeling rewarded
It should be relatively easy in theory to make people love their intranet – we can be happy at work if people feel that they are making progress on meaningful tasks

Sam introduced his “MARS model” that contains 4 levels of adoption

  • Mandated
  • Accepted
  • Rewarding
  • Stimulating

For higher levels of adoption – focus on things that give (a) autonomy, (b) mastery, and (c) purpose.

See some photos from the day>>

Next up was Lee Bryant – Inside the Social Business. In his opening statements he confirmed what I spoke about on the workshop day – that if the user experience is poor and the new doesn’t trump the old – then adoption will be lower. He also characterised traditional intranets as not necessarily being productive spaces. This may be attributable to the fact that often the systems we are required to use at work, don’t work. They suffer in comparison with the other tools we use in our non-work lives, the ‘consumerisation’ of IT has raised our expectations of what should be available to us when we are doing work, and at present it is an unfavourable comparison. We also need to be aware of our self- constructed barriers; we are creatures of habit and our willingness to stop using the old (with all the foibles that we tolerate) and willingly use something new or follow a new process is limited. We will await proof of benefit and clear evidence of  – what’s in it for me before we venture forth.

Lee talked of ambient awareness where activity streams and sharing can improve decision making and showcase desired behaviours, often an easier way to encourage adoption is to allow the use of collaborative tools in a social context and then await future application and benefit in a work context.

Then it was the turn of Janus Boye – Sharing is Caring for your Intranet. Intranets take organisational value and knowledge and present it back to the organisation. How this is done will affect how the intranet is received. Janus put the case for investment in the intranet and then realising the benefits to all who use it.

It’s still common place for the main communication route to be top down and with a high degree over control of content. Intranets in the second decade of the 21st century should be moving to a more open and transparent model.

Janus agreed with Sam’s earlier thoughts when he said that where possible we should be moving towards allowing a higher level of autonomy on an intranet, particularly within the profile area, but how “daring” can you be? He concluded his presentation by encouraging the audience to think about the role of the Intranet Manager and to plot their own career development path.

The afternoon was topped off with dual streams of intranet break out sessions that attendees could select to attend. More amazing intranet speakers including:

  • Jonathan Phillips from Coca-cola Enterprises and one quarter of the Intranetizen team: Deploying a Global Intranet. He spoke about how he successfully launched the Coca-Cola Enterprises intranet (iConnect) across a global workforce. He explained his journey from research to launch, detailing the key features of the Coca-Cola Enterprises intranet and how he made a success of deploying and engaging users dispersed around the CCE world.
  • Stuart Henry from Arriva  detailed how Arriva’s Mainland Europe division overcame several barriers to launch their new intranet, across 11 countries and 11 different languages.
  • Interact CEO and Founder, Nigel Danson spoke about Intelligent Intranets. He explained that as intranets grow in size at a rapid rate, it is imperative that the content on the intranet is easy to find and pushed to the relevant person. Increasing the relevance of content saves time and improves the value and user experience. He demonstrated how a tailored interaction will create a more positive intranet experience.
  • Tim Walters, of Digital Clarity Group – Target Knowledge Processes for Intranet Success. His talk concentrated on how Intranet Manager’s have so far not had great success with enterprise social tools. When introduced as a platform, they often see an initial burst of interest but fail to gain long-term adoption. He showed how targeting specific social tools at poorly supported knowledge-based processes can provide clear business value and drive adoption.
  • Collaboration specialist, Michael Sampson, spoke about the Dangers of Pushing Collaboration Too Far. He talked about how collaborating effectively is viewed as an essential capability for many organisations today, both on and off the intranet. But making collaboration work requires more than just having the latest social gizmos and mobile gadgets available.
  • Helen Day from IBF and Susanne Rolf from Ikea presented How Good is my Intranet. This session showed how thorough, impartial assessment of an intranet’s performance, and detailed comparison with the intranets run by fellow IBF members, can lead to both quick wins and strengthened strategic intranet planning.

The day culminated with a town hall debate with a panel of intranet experts featuring Janus Boye, the Intranetizen team, Sam Marshall, James Robertson and Nigel Danson.

Contact us to receive the full slides from Interaction 2012>>

 Read the other Interaction 2012 write-ups:

Interaction Intranet Conference 2012 by Managing Editor of Small Wonders Kevin Cody

All things Interaction 2012 by Angela Ashenden

Interaction Intranet Conference Review by Intranetizen

In a series of blog posts by Michael Sampson

We look forward to seeing you all at Interaction 2013! Keep an eye out for the big announcement on www.intranetconference.com