Changing the intranets conversation

Changing of the guard
An article on the CMS Wire website that has garnered much attention from the intranet community on Twitter and other sites is an article called "Changing the Intranets Conversation"

In the article, the author begins by looking at why modern intranets have so much baggage. From the introduction to the article:

Here’s the crux: We’re overwhelmed, confused and disillusioned by this elusive “intranet” concept. Countless writers have written about intranets for far too long to go back now. So how can we change the conversation? 
Gartner’s term “Digital Workplace” is doing just that: changing the words we use to talk about intranets, even while the concept is as old as the “paperless office.” “Digital Workplace” is Gartner’s shorthand for the many pieces of technology your teams use to work together harmoniously
The author then looks at how organisations can take on the challenge of making their intranets and the tools that they provide their users both more collaborative and more like a digital workplace. The author provides several pieces of advice for organisations in this position.

The first is to establish an open dialogue with your users, this means providing them with the tools and applications that they can use to share their views and opinions. The next tip is to think carefully about whether you should build or buy a solution for providing an intranet to your users. There are definitely benefits to both approaches, but ultimately it will depend on the requirements of the organisation.

This is a thought provoking article, which if you are an intranet manager is definitely worth reading.

Running a virtual race...or two...

POW Virtual Runner 10k medal
For those of you who following my running on Runkeeper or Strava (probably not many) you may have noticed that I've been running a few "virtual" races recently.

These aren't races where you sit on your sofa with a virtual reality headset on and pretend to run, but are in fact races where you receive a medal but you don't attend an actual race. To prove you have run the required distance you can choose to send either a screenshot of the running app you use or of your running watch.

I love the idea of Virtual races opening up races to those individuals who might not be able to attend a race or might not want to. It's definitely a great way to obtain some race medals without having to travel to far from home and being able to do it on your own terms. Some of the Virtual races are also organised so that a percentage of the race entry goes to a charity.

There are two virtual race websites that I have tried out this year. The first of these was Virtual Runner which is the second result if you search for Virtual Running. This is one of the sites that gives a percentage of the entry fee to charities. Charities include Bowel Cancer UK, Ellie's Fund and ABF The Soldiers Charity. This is a great way for individuals to raise money for these charities, without having to try and reach a fundraising target.

SRC (Virtual Running) 5k medal
The other virtual race website I have used is POW Virtual Running this site doesn't donate a percentage of the race fee to charity at the moment. However their September race will be the first when they partner with a charity (MIND) to offer participants the chance to raise money for a very worthy charity.

The final website that I am looking at is the Virtual Running UK website. They offer some free races, with the option to take part in bonus races to get hold of some medals. I hope to take part in their August 5 mile race to earn a very nice looking medal.

Overall I think Virtual Races are a great way to get hold of some medals and if you really want to take it seriously you can do so and push yourself to achieve your best time over the chosen distance.

Intranet resources - June 2015

This is becoming something of a habit now, which is probably a good thing. This month I have found 5 articles on intranets which I found particularly intranet. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

If you're looking for a good introduction to Office 365 groups then you need look no further then an article con the CMS Wire website called "What are Office 365 groups" the reason for the blog post as explained in the introduction is because of the confusion Microsoft have caused with the introduction of these groups. The article looks at when Office 365 groups might be used and the functionality available within them.

Not one, but two blog posts this month on how to use video on your intranet. Both the articles have been published to the JBoye website and are well worth reviewing if you're thinking about using video on your intranet. The first article is called "Intranet video tips & tricks" and pulls together a list of useful resources in relation to videos. The second article is called "How to use video on your intranet" because of course there are plenty of ways to get video wrong!

To finish up this month we have two excellent articles from the team at Intranetizen. The first is an article called "Should you move your intranet into the cloud" although for some intranet managers, it seems to be case of being dragged into the cloud!

The second article from the intranetizen team this month is something that I think will be very useful for a huge number of intranet managers. This is an article called "Top tips for intranet demos" in which Sharon O'Dea looks at the essential elements of an intranet demonstration. There are definitely some important takeaways in this article, but for me the one that really stood out was to "think" before you do anything.

Intranet and other useful resources - May 2015

This is another installment of my irregular column highlighting useful intranet and for the first time

Nuggets..but not this kind!
Knowledge Management resources.

We start with a post written by Steven Bynghall called "The Bumpy Ride to Dialogue on Your Social Intranet" in the post Steve looks at how the introduction of social tools and features can lead to a level of "nervousness" amongst Senior Managers and especially individuals working in risk. However as Steve explains most Enterprise Social Networks (ESN's) self regulate, which should mean any awkward posts or conversations are avoided. However is there a case for having these conversations? You'll just have to read the full post to find out!

Next up is a really interesting post from Mark Gould who asks "Where to start with law firm Knowledge development" In the post Mark provides a brief history of Knowledge Management in Law Firms and then looks at what those firms that aren't currently using Knowledge Management tools or techniques, a very interesting short post on this important subject.

Finally we have a thought provoking post from the team at Intranetizen (so good to see these guys back publishing content). In this post Sharon O'Dea asks "When's it time to quit your intranet job?" Whilst it can be hard to think about quitting a job you enjoy and leaving colleagues you might have worked closely with. Occasionally there are circumstances where you might have to do so. For example "if you’re stuck in a company where as soon as an intranet’s launched, your bigwigs consider it ‘done’ and want to move to simple maintenance?"

What are your options then? Well as Sharon explains you basically have two; Fight or Flight. As a previous intranetizen post looked at the first option Sharon focuses on option 2, there are some different options here, which I think is good news!

So that's it for this month a few golden nuggets that stood out for me!

What's new for intranets in SharePoint 2016?

In what could be considered a follow up* to the SharePoint 2016 webinar I wrote about recently Sam Marshall has written an interesting blog post called SharePoint 2016 - what's new for intranets"

In the post Sam looks more closely at what SharePoint 2016 offers those individuals who manage intranets. This is definitely one of those good news/not so good news posts and I always like to start with good news!

The good news

  • There will be a cleaner, clearer interface for content authoring
  • Search (Delve) working for both cloud and on-premises content
  • Enhancements to the video portal introduced on Office 365 recently, such as embedding
  • A new knowledge portal codenamed ‘Infopedia

The not so good news

The following functionality still doesn't appear to be part of the SharePoint roadmap:

  • No clear demonstration that sites will be fully mobile and touch friendly
  • No clear timeline on the full integration of Yammer within SharePoint
  • No mention of activity streams
  • Still no sign of a news centre
  • Analytics have got worse

So a bit of a mixed bag overall! As to whether organisations should be rushing to move to SharePoint 2016, in his post Sam suggests there is plenty of life left in SharePoint 2013, so there is no pointing in rushing to use SharePoint 2016.

*The SharePoint 2016 webinar actually followed this blog post.

SharePoint 2016 webinar

What is there to look forward to in the next version of SharePoint? That's the question looked at in an Sam Marshall of Clearbox Consulting and Michael Pisarek of Dynamic Owl and Bonzai intranet.
excellent webinar that was run by

If you're interested in watching/listening to the webinar you can do so by click on this link, alternatively you can read my summary of the webinar below.

Where is Microsoft going in the intranet/digital workplace?

What was clear from what Michael was saying is that the Cloud version of SharePoint or a Hybrid version of SharePoint is definitely the future. So if you're not already using the cloud you probably
will be soon.

However what Microsoft also seem to be doing is creating "experiences" so the future is less about SharePoint and more about "experiences" Now you might be wondering what an experience is, according to Michael an experience is Microsoft's way of presenting multiple tool sets to users but in a seamless way. So instead of a user thinking I'm using SharePoint or Yammer, they will just be using the tool. Office 365 and these experiences are according to Michael, Microsoft's version of the Digital Workplace.

Office Graph & Delve

One of the most exciting announcements by Microsoft recently has been the introduction of Office Graph and Delve into Office 365. For anyone not familiar with Delve the article "SharePoint Online: An introduction to Office Delve" is a good introduction.

Michael then looked in some detail at what problem Office Graph/Delve is trying to solve, typically it will aim to answer the following questions:

  1. What information should I know?
  2. Why does search suck?
  3. What are other people doing?

So now that it's clear what problem Office Graph and Delve are trying to fix, how does it do it? This is where it began to get really interesting as Michael explained how Office Graph & Delve work together. 

In a non-technical nutshell Content & Signals from Office 365 populate the Office Graph/, which then uses machine learning to create intelligence experiences within Delve. To put this another way Delve looks at what you're doing on Office 365 and tries to show content that is relevant. This is very interesting, but I get the feeling it will be one of those pieces of functionality that individuals will either love or hate, especially as it uses cards, which seem to be very popular within Microsoft products at the moment.

In addition to this functional organisations can also plug their own items into Delve, thereby extending the Office Graph & Delve experience.

Other interesting stuff :-)

In the final part of the webinar Michael looked at some of the other stuff that Microsoft had talked about at the Ignite Conference in May, these were:

Video Portal

This definitely looks interesting as it is being designed to be responsive and there will eventually be a native app for iOS and Android.

Microsites

Another interesting development by Microsoft is the addition of what are being called "microsites". These are simple websites, which are easy to create, but can display related documents using Office Graph & Delve. Michael explained that these could be a way to create Knowledge Bases. Michael also commented that Microsoft appear to be making it easier to create content as these sites don't use the SharePoint ribbon to create content.

Infopedia

The next new experience Michael talked about was Infopedia, which are also referred to as the KM Portal. These Portals use the Office Graph to display content. If you're interested in learning more about Infopedia/the KM Portal then the following link will be of interest.


The new people experience in Delve

Michael briefly explained the new people experience in Office 365, which will enable users to find other people through content. In addition to this the new people experience also provides a new blogging engine, which is a very different editing experience compared to the rest of SharePoint.

Office 365 Groups

The final topic discussed was Office 365 groups and how these are a new version of SharePoint team sites. Office 365 groups will enable users to;

  • Save files (these are saved in OneDrive not within SharePoint)
  • Use One Note for team notes
  • Build a landing page that includes Outlook Calendars and other Outlook functionality

So some very interesting and quite exciting features coming in the new version of SharePoint!

Harvel 5 2015

The medal which doubles as a bottle opener
A late race report here on the fantastic Harvel 5 race, which took place on the 6th of June. I last ran this race way back in 2009, where I clocked a very respectable 36:56, but I was hoping for better this time around. There are
several things about this race which make it a fantastic Saturday afternoon out.

You might have noticed the first of these already, which is that the race takes place on a Saturday and in the afternoon, 2pm to be precise. It's actually quite hard to plan for a 2pm race as you're likely to have eaten breakfast a while ago and you don't want to eat too much for lunch, otherwise you might start suffering whilst on the course.

As it was I had a couple of bananas and a slice of toast and deemed that sufficient to get me round the course. The day itself was beautiful, with dare I say it almost perfect running conditions aka a light breeze and sunny, but not too hot. Because this is a local race several members of my running club Gravesend Road Runners (GRR) were also running it, so there was some car sharing and lifts to get to the start. I always enjoy sharing a car to a race because it usually means that there is plenty of banter before the race starts, which I think helps to settle any nerves.

Back to the race itself and the other elements of this race which make it great, in no particular order, these are:

  • The location - Harvel/Vigo/Trosley Park are very nice parts of the Kent Countryside
  • The course, which whilst it starts uphill is definitely PB potential
  • The country fair/festival feel of the event
  • The decorated porta-loos
  • The interesting urinals for the men
  • The great medal
  • The downhill finish (go hard or go home)
  • The free photos!
  • The Beer & Pimms tent at the finish

So on to the race, after the mass warm-up, which I didn't take part in, we all gathered at the start line, which had been broken up into potential finish times. I slotted myself into the 35 - 40 minute slot and awaited the starters gun (a shotgun literally). The start is a little bit up and down for at least the first mile, which can be a bit of a shock to the system, but I was running well and happy to see I was running  at 7:20 minute mile pace.

After the 1st mile/mile and a half the course heads into Trosley Park for a few miles, this is a nice part of the course as it's shady and there are some downhill parts, although some puddles and the rutted track meant it was important to keep your concentration. The only significant incline on the course is at the end of this section at about 4 miles. This is a 250 metre incline, where I struggled and was passed by a few people including one of my clubmates, but fair play to them, they owned that incline whilst I huffed and puffed up it. Then it's downhill all the way to the finish and I pushed as hard as I can to get to the finish line in 35:53 and a new 5 mile PB by more than a minute :-)

Overall very happy and I'll definitely be signing up for this event as soon as is opens next year!

Race Splits

Mile 1 7:19
Mile 2 7:22
Mile 3 7:19
Mile 4 7:27
Mile 5 6:37