Last month Interact continued expanding into the US market by opening a new office in Dallas, Texas which offers our US clients a complete support service and dedicated account managers for a seamless intranet journey. This month I sat down with our two new Intranet Consultants, Jason Onufrak and Marco Morales, from our US intranet team to find out more about their background in helping organisations implement intranets, why they were keen to work with InteractIntranet and where they see the future of intranet software going.
You have both helped over 300 companies in the US set up successful intranets. In your experience what does it take to acheive this success?
Jason: The key aspects are planning the foundation and understanding what the mission, vision and goals are and then being able to determine the time line and really what your market is. From that you can figure out your short, mid and long term goals and create that methodology to achieve those results. As the technology and landscape improves, the understanding of what’s available and what’s desired out of your intranet is continuing to grow.
What we used to see was a top-down communication collection of documents that were available through your information architecture and search mechanism and now what we’re seeing is that it’s much more dynamic, you have both a push and a pull of communication and with that complexity comes another level of understanding of how to communicate to your audience and how to reach them.
Marco: I’d agree with what Jason and the other part that is often missed is the understanding that is needed on the clients side of the issues that are going to keep them from being successful. Often people go into these projects with money and good objectives but they don’t have anyone that’s set up to do the work for them. Unfortunately we go into these things with the best of intentions but when the rubber meets the road all of a sudden no one wants to do the work and that’s where we would come in and offer options such as doing it for them to allow them to be successful. So when the reality sets in, the ability to adjust and adapt to the situation is key to being successful.
I’d like to say that this only happens once or twice but it unfortunately it happens more than it should, I think being able to adjust and provide the necessary services to be successful, regardless of the obstacles have been one of the keys to our successful implementations.
What do you think are the most important elements in an intranet?
J: Well, content really is king and that comes in different forms – you need to understand what is available and then understand how to present that content to the right audience, because in today’s world we’re always so busy the last thing you want to do is overwhelm your audience with the wrong content.
M: Just to echo on that, when you look at intranets and earlier generation intranets – they were information dumping grounds and the key is to communicate information that your users find useful. I know the safe thing is trying to get all your information out there but by doing that you’ve done a dis-service to your users because you’ve taken all filters off and basically just dumped all this information. In essence you have to separate the wheat from the chaff, serving the user with information that is useful and helpful.
J: This takes on a number of different aspects as well because you no longer worry about user adoption you provide your colleagues with information they need to help them with what they do on a day to day basis. It becomes a tool rather than a just ‘nice to have’ and that’s really what we are going for – creating that collaborative space that is the hub and central to allowing them to create an environment that makes their job easier.
What key changes and trends have you seen emerge in the industry over the years?
M: There have been many changes, especially in the last two years, social went from not being a requirement to becoming a main requirement. I think part of that was seeing the pendulum swinging where people started to say, we need social and there was a mad dash to do social intranets – some doing social right some social doing wrong. When you look at the way Interact do it – we have activity feeds but they are centred around business organisations.
Using Interact Answers people go to the intranet looking for information to do their job better. That’s really where I see social intranets going and that’s going to evolve over time.
J: Businesses are apprehensive to accept social intranets because they don’t know how to govern them. In order to understand what a social element means to a business we take the idea of social and move it to business social allowing them to understand how to tap into the collective genius in their organisation and doing it in such a way that is easily managed.
That’s the beauty of our intranet software – you’ve got Interact Answers, a tool to get people tying questions to subject matter experts and allowing those individuals to create a voice that is heard throughout the entire, collective organisation.
Marco: With new abilities to publish made easier and easier with WYSIWYG editors, people are being given the power to create content which they couldn’t before, which means contributors are allowing more content and relevant information to be bought to an organisation – making intranets much more dynamic than just the content management system that was aspired to a few years ago.
The new US office at Williams Square, Texas
What particularly attracted you to working with Interact?
Jason: For me in particular, having been involved in this technology landscape for many years, seeing the core of products out there offering the same features and functionality it was refreshing to get involved with an organisation that understood the technology that is coming about in terms of a social element and how to employ that in a way that makes sense in a business environment.
The needs and desires of the work force are changing and with that they are expecting different results from the tools they are engaging with. So it was good to work with Interact who understand social and how to engage it with business, breaking down that barrier between the top-down communication and creating an environment that is really enriching and allowing people to express themselves and doing the work they are accustomed to.
Marco: My perspective is a bit different, I have been selling off-the-shelf intranet solutions for years and I’ve done this quite successfully. Then all of a sudden a new competitor came on the market that I’d never seen and it was winning and that caught my attention. So I’d talk to clients to evaluate your software and the intelligence engine and I bought that to ownership. I saw you were doing some very cool things in search, social and from a marketing perspective it looked as though Interact was really firing on all cylinders on better product and better marketing.
What features do you think particularly stand out with Interact Intranet software solution?
J: The intelligence store and the fact it really drives relevant content out to the people and groups that need personalisation, allowing the interaction between the user and the software to become more personalised. All this is done without a physical governing – you don’t have to have IT, you don’t have to have anyone setting that up, it’s intuitive and that’s what really separated this product from everything else I’ve seen out there. It’s much more engaging. It’s also scalable – it works in all sized organisations from small to large, which is great news.
M: The thing that is most exciting is the intelligence and what we are doing specifically with Interact Suggests. I mean I look at what Facebook, Google and Amazon are doing, which is collecting information so they have a profile of the user and they take all of this great information to in essence sell them stuff. We are using the exact same technology to provide people with relevant information that’s really exciting because we’re using great technology and applying it in a very useful and helpful way inside an organisation – I think that’s brilliant and probably the most exciting thing about our solution.
The new office is located in Williams Square, Texas. Full address: 5215 N OConnor Blvd, Suite 200, Irving TX 75039 USA Telephone: 1-(214)-774-2802