Mission Marathon

It has been a while since I've posted anything running related. That's predominantly because I've been slammed at work and I've been happily running at my local Parkrun and undertaking my usual long run on Sunday. I'm on target to run 1000 miles in 2013, which is fantastic, but now I have an even bigger target...the Brighton Marathon.

This time around I'll have some help from the team at RunLounge as I'll be part of their Mission Marathon team alongside 3 other lucky runners! This is a fantastic opportunity for me and I definitely make the most of it. In addition to my training I'll also be publishing more running related posts to this blog and other blogs so watch out for those in the new year.

I can't wait for 2014!

Intranets in the spotlight!

It seems like there have been a lot and I mean A LOT of articles published about intranets recently. A lot of them have been very interesting, but a few in particular have caught my eye.

The first of these is "Closing the Gap between Intranets and Websites" in this article the author looks at how intranets are beginning to push the boundaries of design. This is demonstrated by the latest Intranet Innovation Awards and the cutting edge design used in some of the winning entries. There really are some very interesting designs demonstrated in this article and if you're an intranet manager looking to update your intranet, then it's well worth reviewing these.

Another article on Intranet design published recently is "Intranet Visual Design: Does Your Intranet Need To Be Pretty?" In this article, the author consider how important it is for your intranet to be "pretty". I wont ruin your enjoyment of the article by saying whether intranets should be pretty or not, but suffice to say I believe visual design is an important element of any intranet.

Two recently published articles from the the CMS wire website look at some emerging trends in intranets. The first of these "Social Intranets, the Lemming Curve and 'Down With People'" discusses whether social intranets are designed primarily to support collaboration and discussions between individuals or whether they're designed to support the work that individuals do, to make them more efficient. You could argue that social intranets are actually designed to support both people and the work they can do. In fact I think it's important not to get too obsessed with your social intranet only serving one particular purpose. I'm certain most intranet managers will agree that intranets actually server a number of very distinct purposes.

The last and perhaps most interesting article is one called "What's the hottest trend in intranets" which looks at the concept of ICE. Intranet, Community and Extranet and how the hottest trend in intranets is to deliver these three elements on the same platform. As the article outlines combined the ICE elements provide "provide holistic engagement, reduce development and software costs, and simplify user experience for employees and customers alike." Whilst it might seem odd to incorporate all of these elements within an intranet, the author explains why it make sense to do so.

Your intranet is one facet of an overall collaboration platform that extends through and beyond the walls of your offices. Organizations should evaluate their technology and software based on its ability to manage all three types of “ICE” sites using a common set of tools, shared content repositories and infrastructure.
I like how the intranet is described as a "facet" of business collaboration and as providing effective solutions for employees. That should certainly be the aim for ALL intranet managers, but it's not easy to accomplish. If you're interested in an introduction to some of the concepts that you should aim to introduce into an existing or new intranet then this article is well worth reading.

So it has been quite a couple of months for intranets, lets hope 2014 continues in the same way.

Social media in the spotlight

The September 2013 issue of the CILIP Update has not one but two interesting feature articles on Social Media. The second of these two articles is called @NSPCCpro and looks at the challenges faced by the Information Services Team at NSPCC as they set out to create a Twitter account.

The first thing to say is that this Twitter account is seperate from the main NSPCC Twitter account and is designed to published current awareness on child protection. There were a number of reasons why the information services team decided to open a Twitter account, which include the immediacy of Twitter, the potential reach and the opportunity for the information services team to be more interactive and build up a network of followers with similar interests.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the article are the lessons that the Information Services Team learnt during the course of their (ongoing) Twitter journey. I've picked out some of these as there are quite a few:

  • If you make a mistake, learn from it, but let it go. The brevity and immediacy of the medium means tweeters forgive and forget quickly
  • Don't stay silent too long - you have to tweet to be seen and an idle account will not attract new followers
  • Sometimes news breaks first on Twitter making this a good place for finding as well as sharing informatio
  • Actively searching for tweets and tweeters who are talking about your topic can help to find new followers and share knowledge
  • Tweet with added value - avoid cutting and pasting a headline and a link, try to make a tweet useful, accurate and interesting

Of these I think the last two points are very useful guidance to anyone considering joining Twitter or anyone who already has a Twitter account. Whilst retweeting is a great way to share content on Twitter, it's almost too easy to do, which means that a lot of content gets retweeted without any value added to it, or any explanation as to what it actually is, which might encourage someone to read it. The latter of these two points is also important and when you've just joined Twitter, searching for tweets and tweeters is a great way to find people to follow. Looking at other tweeters profile may also display other individuals you or your organisation might want to follow.

Overall this is a really interesting article, which is well worth reading if you're thinking about or even have a Twitter account.

The next article written by Megan Roberts looks at her experience of using Social Media from both a personal and professional experience. This reads a bit like a history of social media, but it's very interesting to read what value Megan gets from Twitter and of course there are some lessons learnt.

The first of these is to keep yourself up-to-date. I think this is extremely important to do. As Megan says "you become the a go-to-person and vital to the organisation. You want to be the one they turn to when they have these questions" Ultimately this makes you invaluable to the organisation, or as invaluable as you can be!  The next lesson learnt is an important one and easy one to do and that is to "dip your toe into the world of social media" Yes it can be a bit scary but as Megan says "you messing up on social media is unlikely to end up as catastrophic event" basically there is no reason why you shouldn't give it a go.

One final point from Megan's article that I liked was that you need to be flexible. Megan talks about how she has often done things that wouldn't be considered typical librarian/information roles. But importantly she has acquired skills that have been beneficial later in her career. I think this is a really important point and could apply to anyone within an organisation, not just an information professional.

So two really great articles on social media, which if you're a CILIP member are well worth reading.

[Photo credit - Spotlights from Flickr]

Sue Hill Networking Breakfast

What my breakfast may have looked like
Earlier today I was fortunate enough to take part in a Sue Hill Networking Breakfast at the Roast restaurant in Borough Market. Its been a while since I've attended one of these so I jumped at the opportunity to do so and not just because Roast serves a damn fine breakfast.

The format of the breakfasts is that Sue Hill invite Senior Information Professionals from across different sectors to come and enjoy a breakfast and discuss issues that are affecting their day to day work.

There are usually some very Senior Managers present so I feel very much in awe when I'm sat at the table. The format is Chatham House Rules, which means that anything said isn't attribute to anybody, essentially everybody can speak freely about their issues. So having ordered our breakfasts we went round the table introducing ourselves and our role. We then put forward two issues which were affecting our work.

These ranged widely from, restructuring, alternative service models, content management, SharePoint vs other tools and many more. However there were definitely some issues which appeared to affect information professionals irrespective of the sector they were working in.

We were then asked for more information on some of the issues we had mentioned and this is where things got really interesting, with discussions around the following topics:

  • Records Management and Twitter
  • Open Access
  • Digital Shadows
  • The accuracy of information
  • Information vs Knowledge
  • Salt mines in Chester

The last was especially interesting as two of the attendees had visited the Salt Mines in Chester where it would seem most of the UK's archives are stored and spoke about how wonderful the experience was. Although I'm not sure I would like to have the lingering taste of salt!

Of most interest to me were the discussions around Records Management and Twitter and Information vs Knowledge. Records Management and Twitter isn't something I'd thought about before, fortunately for me other people have thought about Records Management and Twitter and I've included some links to these resources below:
These links are a few years old, so I wonder whether this means everyone has considered Twitter and the implications for Records Management or whether we're all choosing to ignore it?  The other discussion I was interested in was the old chestnut of "Information vs Knowledge" I believe both Information and Knowledge can exist harmoniously alongside each other. But they do mean different things to different people.  If you're looking for a good description of both of these terms and data then I would recommend having a look at the "Differences between data, information and knowledge" on the Infogineering blog.

This was another excellent Sue Hill networking breakfast, although next time I wont be ordering the Full Borough as it's some commitment.

[Photo credit - Full English Breakfast from Flickr]

How collaborative is your organisation?

Earlier this week I was lucky enough to listen in on a webinar delivered by Jacob Morgan called "How collaborative are you? - The five types of collaborative organisations" Unfortunately there were some technical issues at the start of the webinar, which mean I was thrown out of the webinar and missed the start of the webinar, where I presume Jacob provided the context as to why organisations should be looking to be more collaborative.

However it didn't really matter as the bulk of the webinar was a discussion of the five types of collaborative organisations, or perhaps more accurately the five stages of collaboration within organisations.

Jacob outline these as:

  1. Unaware
  2. Exploratory
  3. Defined
  4. Adoptive
  5. Adapative

Stage 1 - Unaware

  • This is the first stage in the collaboration process
  • An organisation at this stage will usually have no goals or objectives
  • Will not be aware of new technology
  • Will not have addressed governance or cultural challenges

Stage 2 - Exploratory

  • The second stage in the process
  • Organisations are starting to learn/educate themselves
  • They are looking at the company impact
  • They may be testing/playing with collaborative technologies
  • The organisation will also be thinking about the big picture

Stage 3 - Defined

  • The third stage of the process
  • Organisations will have put a strategy together
  • They will have selected a technology or technologies
  • They may also have defined metrics
  • A team will have been assembled
  • The organisation will have assessed any risks
  • Support will be in place

Stage 4 - Adoptive

  • The fourth stage of the process
  • At this stage technologies will have been deployed
  • Organisations will have benchmarked what they're trying to do
  • Policies and guidance will have been written
  • Community managers and evangelists will be in place
  • Collaborative processes will be integrated into the flow of work

Stage 5 - Adaptive

  • The final stage of the collaborative process
  • Organisations can regress backwards from this stage
  • Organisations have identified their successes and failures
  • The collaborative initiative has been well explained to users
  • New functions/roles have been developed
  • The collaborative technology has been integrated deeply
  • Areas of improvement/development have been assessed
  • The adoption strategy has been updated

And that was pretty much the essence of Jacob's presentation. There were however some interesting takeways which came out of the questions. I've captured these below.

It's important to make collaboration part of how employers work
The only certainty in life is uncertainty
Organisations that don't think about the future, have no future
I think this last statement is perhaps the most interesting and says much about how important it is for organisations to adopt collaborative technologies.

SMILE: Social Media Inside the Large Enterprise

As per my previous blog past I've been lucky enough to attend a couple of excellent conferences recently. The first of these was the SMILE: Social Media Inside the Large Enterprise conference. I had always been interested in attending this conference, but sadly the cost had meant I was unable to. That was until I won a free place courtesy of completing a survey undertaken by Rachel Miller and SMILE on what internal communications is called within organisations.

Naturally I was delighted to be able to accept a place at this conference and was looking forward to spending the day some well known internal communication professionals. The day started with a big surprise in that each delegate was given an iPad mini to take notes and to contribute to the event. You can see what this looked like on Twitter.

Whilst I thought this was an excellent idea, there were two problems with it. Firstly it was a closed network, which meant you couldn't use the iPad to tweet about the conference sessions. To do this you had to use your own device. This seemed a bit of a shame as it could have meant a lot more people were involved in the Twitter discussion. Secondly there was a method by which you could message other delegates, but this didn't seem to be used at all, again this was a bit of a shame as it could have been very useful.

Anyway first up was Rachel Miller who was talking about what social media is called internally. I've been following Rachel on Twitter and her blog for a while because she posts on some really interesting topics and has some great resources. So if you're not following her you should be! Rachel outlined the results of her survey on what organisations called social media internally and there were some interesting names! These ranged from the name of the product like Yammer to Boris! I think this session definitely underlined how many organisations are currently using social media tools and the effort that is being put into implementing them.

The next session was an interview of Paolo Cederle, CEO of Unicredit this was a very interesting and inspiring session as it demonstrated how important it was to engage everybody within the organisation. There were a couple of really interesting soundbites which I took away from this session, they were:
As CEO it's important to be near to the people and telling them things they're interested in
Real leaders have to interact with their staff, as much as they might dislike it
Engagement is key, make it personal but informative
Next up were the breakout sessions and I decided to sit with Luke Mepham who was talking about "The future of the intranet". Unsurprisingly the table was full and Luke first asked us what we thought the future of intranets was. There were plenty of ideas, including Yammer, Gamification, collaboration, convergence of technologies, shared services, integration of business applications and much more. What was apparent was that the table thought that people needed to be more relaxed about social media and think about how they could use it for the benefit of their business. Another soundbite which I'm going to reproduce here was as follows:
Understanding the future of your company is important to understand how your intranet should work. What tools will support the work your company does.
After lunch the sessions continued with some interesting presentations from the European Commission and Sanofi Pasteur this was followed by an interesting session by Yammer on responsive organisations. Yammer as most people will know are passionate about transforming organisations, they believe and this would certainly appear to be true that Yammer allows organisations to be responsive. A responsive organisation is an organisation that is flexible and adaptable. So a good example of an organisation that wasn't responsive is Tower Records and Blockbuster, both of these companies failed to respond to the changes in their market in time and suffered as a result.

Of course this was an opportunity for the speakers to promote Yammer, but they did it quite subtly by highlighting how Yammer can help companies move from control to empowerment and by demonstrating how different organisations are using Yammer. A good example was Westfield, which uses an external Yammer network to connect individual shops and share information.

This presentation was followed by a discussion of how the City of London Corporation is using Yammer to give their employees a channel by which to communicate. It was very interesting to hear how the Head of Internal Communications had joined the City of London and had to work with an organisation where all social media was blocked. For them it was important to work with their employees and engage with them, but an even bigger challenge was to move the culture on. There were also external events, which meant that they had to think about how they communicated with their employees and certainly for the City of London, Yammer appears to have been the answer.

This was another excellent conference, which was well worth attending for the great insights into how organisations and using social media and some of the tools that are available.

[Photo credit - Smile from Flickr]

Interaction Intranet Conference 2013

At the end of last month I was lucky enough to attend two fantastic conferences in the same week. The first of this was the Social Media in Large Enterprises (SMILE) Conference, which I'll write another blog post on. The second conference was Interaction Intranet Conference, which took place at 200 Aldersgate Street.

This is the 3rd year I've attended this conference, having previously attended in 2012, and 2011. The quality of this conference always impresses me and it seems to be getting bigger and bigger, with more than 250 intranet professionals attending this year, which made a change of venue again this year.

The conference is a veritable smorgasbord of the biggest and brightest talent in the intranet marketplace, including, Michael Sampson, James Robertson, Rebecca Richmond, Martin White, The team from Intranetizen, Sam Marshall and many many more!

The first session of the day was an excellent presentation from Michael Sampson on Collaboration on the intranet. During the session Michael looked at some of the issues organisations face when thinking about how they're going to encourage collaboration and some of the ways in which intranets and other tools are facilitating collaboration. It was definitely interesting to hear about the many tools that are available to organisations, which can be an issue in itself, and the approaches that some organisations have taken.

Michael also talked passionately about what adoption requires and what success ultimately means. So successful adoption of a collaborative tool will need at least some of the following:

  • Executive sponsorship
  • Embedded champions
  • Real life scenarios (rather then personas)
  • User groups
  • One to one coaching
  • Training

In terms of success, ultimately it will mean the following:
  • Cultural alignment
  • Information on what is happening
  • What some of the scenarios for engagement are
  • Making it "real" for people

The next presentation was from Genevieve Potter of Bauer Media. Genevieve explained how she had managed the rollout of a new intranet in her session called "The intranet survival guide" there were some useful tips in this presentation from Genevieve including a slightly contentious incentive to give content editors extra days holiday if they created a certain amount of content. This was widely discussed both during and after her presentation. Right at the end of her presentation Genevieve list her 5 top tips, which were:

  • Find the magic bullets
  • Planning v execution - it's important to spend longer on the finer detail
  • Find out what makes your team tick - so that they undertake what you've asked them to do
  • Great design will always pay back
  • Make your intranet impossible to ignore - make it open when an individual logs on

The conference then split into 3 streams at which point I chose stream two, which included the following presentations; Rebecca Richmond talking about the shift from engagement to empowerment. James Robertson, who I'm a big fan of then talked about what makes a successful intranet team. James gave his five top tips for intranet managers on how to deliver a great intranet, they were:

  1.  Always have a to-do-list. Intranets have to continually evolve and develop, so you should always have a list of things you're going to be doing, now, in the next 6 months and beyond this. This means you can say to management > this is what we have planned.
  2. Spend more time with the people that count. This was an interesting point made by James and one that I'll definitely be taking forward. In essence James was making the point that you cant deliver effective solutions for staff you haven't met. You have to get out there, meet people and understand the reality of things on the ground.
  3. Give yourself time to succeed. This was another interesting point with James saying that an intranet managers time should be split as follows: 40% of the time developing new stuff, 40% of the time running the intranet and 30% of the time developing relationships.
  4. Do work that makes you a hero! Again another interesting point with James saying that we should forget about all the stuff that happens in the background. Intranet managers need to be front and centre at all time and do nothing that doesn't give you more credibility!
  5. The final point was to celebrate success. The intranet is a marathon not a sprint, so if you get the opportunity to should about something successful then you should do so.

After lunch the sessions continued apace, with two huge names from the intranet, collaborative world. The first of these speakers was Andrew Wright from the Worldwide Intranet Challenge. Andrew took us through the results of his latest survey of intranets. There were some very interesting results in this survey and it's worth reviewing these on the interact intranet blog.

The second speaker after lunch was Luis Suarez, Luis spoke passionately about the work he has been doing at IBM on their intranet and collaborative solutions, as well as the workplace of the future. Luis's presentation is available on the interact intranet blog and I would encourage you to view it as it's excellent. Sadly I then had to leave what was yet again another excellent day of learning about existing and future intranets.

If you want to read a more detailed summary of the second day of this conference then there is more detailed blog post available on the Interact Intranet blog, including presentations from some of the speakers.

Yammer, SharePoint and the mobile experience

A couple of weeks ago I listened to a very interesting webinar called "Yammer + SharePoint + Mobile = Oh My" which looked at what the integration of Yammer within SharePoint really means.

The webinar started with the presenter outlining the case for social and mobile solutions and there are certainly some interesting statistics out there to support the case for social and mobile solutions. They include the following:

  •  95% of users want to take advantage of BYOD policies and use their own devices rather then their employees Laptop or PC
  • 34 hours a week is spent by millenials on social tools
  • 70% of an an IT budget is spent on maintaining existing equipment
  • There will be 1.2 billion mobile users by the end of 2013

Given these figures organisations need to think about how they can leverage the potential of social tools, by looking at some of the benefits it can bring, especially in relation to tasks that are undertaken on a regular basis by users, so:

  •  38% of users spend time looking for information
  • SharePoint can help find/surface information
  • Social networks can be an efficient way of finding information
  • Social technologies can raise productivity by 25%

Whilst these figures are all very good and make for pleasant reading, organisations need to justify an investment in social tools, by looking at some of the "hard" benefits. These were outlined as follows;

  • Competitive advantage
  • Employee retention - If you leverage social tools you're likely to get more employees
  • Improved institutional knowledge
  • Increased productivity
  • Employee acquisition
  • Employee engagement - Social tools make engaging employees easier

Ultimately individuals should be able to access the tools they need to undertake their work the way they want to access them. On the fly, when they need it and how they need it. The presenter then looked at how Office 365 and Yammer could be used to facilitate a social and mobile experience. SharePoint and Yammer is actually an interesting proposition, especially with the changes Microsoft have made in SharePoint 2013. These include:

  • Mobile browsing with HTML5
  • Device channel support
  • Responsive design
  • Yammer (newsfeeds)
  • SkyDrive Pro

It was certainly interesting to hear the thoughts of the presenter in relation to the 365 experience, which he indicated has to be the best experience across all devices and to be a truly compelling experience has to be available across all devices and internet browsers. There was then a brief discussion of the role Yammer has to play within the social experience. The presenter described Yammer as the conversation layer, driving conversations within organisations, which ultimately drives knowledge sharing and engagement.

The presenter then looked at how we "do social" and what some of the issues are with implementing a social experience. I think the biggest issue is that social technologies will change the way we work, so culturally an organisation has to be ready for social tools, otherwise they're just going to bomb.

The presenter suggested taking a two pronged approach to any implementation. By looking at the different goals, different audiences have. So users are looking for tools that make their lives easier and fewer systems, whilst the organisations might be looking to make money/save money as well as empower the user.

Another consideration is what IT will think. They may be looking to reduce costs, have less support calls to deal with and be able to respond to the business faster and more efficiently. The presenter also suggest the best way to develop and deploy a social and mobile experience is not to go for the big bang approach, but to pick a pilot group, understand the technology challenges they're facing and decide whether a social and mobile approach is relevant before moving on to the next group.

Measurement and adoption

This was looked at in some detail by the presenter, with him describing social measurement like trying to nail jelly to a wall! So if you are looking at measurement it's important to make sure what you're trying to do is achieveable and that wherever possible you demonstrate your successes early, ultimately this will encourage other individuals and groups to use social tools.

Another discussion point was around adoption with the presenter suggesting that for a social experience to be successful, there are a number of critical factors. These include the following:

  • Executive sponsorship
  • Engaging users from Day 1
  • Having the right processes in place
  • Making your efforts measurable
  • Having launch events
  • Investing in training
  • Having an invested and engaged user community
  • Keeping it simple

This was a really interesting webinar, but you don't have to take my word for it. You can watch the webinar in full at the CMS wire website.

Do intranet managers need to be technology gurus?

A while ago I read a post on LinkedIn asking whether intranet managers need to be truly technology savvy. Sadly I cant find the post anymore, but it got me thinking about whether intranet managers need to REALLY understand technologies and be truly technology savvy and take a hands on approach to their intranet. Or whether they just have to have an understanding of technology and need to be hands off and have a more strategic role.

Intranet managers need to be hands on!

To truly understand the intranet you're managing surely you need to be immmersed in it on a daily basis? There is a good argument that says an intranet manager should be the central point for ALL content additions and changes. If this is the case then all content can be checked for quality and any errors corrected before they appear on the intranet. The intranet manager then knows where every single piece of information resides on the intranet right, how valuable is it having an intranet manager now?

Intranet managers need to be hands off!

One of the arguments against intranet managers spending their days continually editing intranet pages is that the individuals who understand the content and therefore how it should be displayed are the people in the departments or offices who use it on a regular basis. In my mind there is absolutely no point in an intranet manager publishing content for another office, because they don't work in that office. So they don't understand how the office works and how the content that is being published helps people working there. Whilst you might think that managing an intranet would mean a lot of editing of content, in reality for intranet managers it doesn't. Yes developing a content strategy is an important part of an intranet managers role, alongside other tasks like, managing the technology, establishing a good intranet team, enhancing collaboration, managing ongoing projects, marketing the intranet and continually enhancing the user experience.

It depends on your role

I believe a lot of the day to day work intranet managers undertake will depend on the type of role they have. If they're managing a team then their role is going to differ significantly from someone who is working on their own to manage and develop an intranet. If you're lucky enough to be working in an organisation that has a large intranet team, then you're likely to have delegated content ownership either to the team or to the wider organisation. If this is the case then the intranet manager will be focused on managing ongoing projects that help improve the intranet.

It also depends on the technology you're using

If you have an intuitive content management system that individual editors are able to use with very little or no guidance from an intranet manager then your role is going to be significantly different from an intranet manager who is having to hand write HTML code, or struggle with a less efficient method of publishing content to their intranet.

There are a lot of factors that have to be taken into account before you can say YES an intranet manager has to be technology savvy. What I will say is this, in the early years of an intranet managers career it's important to use and understand as many content management systems and web based tools as possible. So they they have a broad understanding of the intranet solution market and the different tools that are available. As careers advance it's less likely that an intranet manager will be as hands on. I appreciate this isn't eloquently written, so if you're looking for more background on this subject, why not have a look at some of the links below.

[Photo credit - Hand in Hand from Flickr]

BIALL Conference 2013 tweeters

Immediately after last years BIALL Conference I wrote this post listing the Law Librarians who were in Belfast celebrating the achievements of Law Librarians.

Now I did intend to do something similar this year, but as I'm sure you can all appreciate time and other factors came into play and I missed my chance to do so. Rather then prepare a list now I'm going to say the following. Thanks to everyone who was at the BIALL Conference that contributed to the conversation on Twitter. I thought that this year there were a lot more people tweeting and engaging with Twitter. This was helped I'm sure by the free wifi that was on offer.

Perhaps we'll see even more people Tweeting at next year's conference, only time will tell. Oh and if you were new to the BIALL Conference this year and were tweeting please do add your twitter name as a comment. I'd like to ensure I'm following you all!

Thinking about an enterprise social network (ESN)?

A while ago I was asked whether I'd like to co-author an article on Enterprise Social Networks (ESN's). Unfortunately I wasn't able to make the deadline for the article, so missed out in this instance, but I did prepare some notes on some of the features I think organisations need to consider when choosing an enterprise social networking tool.

  1. A familiar interface (but not a Facebook clone)

    To encourage individuals to use an enterprise social networking tool it should be developed with a familiar interface in mind. Doing so will make individuals feel comfortable with the new tool. However it's important not to make it look too much like Twitter or Facebook, as doing so it may put them off using it as they may think it's an internal version of Facebook and therefore designed for wasting time. Standard functionality within an enterprise social network should include the ability to add a variety of posts, reply to posts, to like posts, to add labels and other tags to posts. Users should also be able to share all types of media including URL's, and attachments (pictures, video clips, documents) It's also important that users are able to follow other users so that they're aware of all updates.

  2. Updates

    Keeping people informed about what content is being added to an ESN is a feature that should not  be overlooked. Many collaborative tools already offer regular updates and an ESN should be any different. What's important to consider with updates is the frequency with which these are sent/received. Whilst it might be great to receive an update every time someone updates their status or adds something to the ESN, after a while this may become too much for the recipient. Therefore having a number of options available for receiving updates is an important element. These will range from daily updates to weekly summaries of content added.

  3. Extensible and rich user profiles

    User profiles are an important part of any enterprise social networking tool as they allow individuals to describe their interests, projects they might have worked on and to "sell" the expertise that they have. In addition to information from HR systems profiles should be easily editable by individuals. Profiles should include recent activity as well the details of individuals and groups that they're following. For an individual completing their profile there should be an indication of how complete it is.

  4. Collaborative tools

    This will depend on what you're trying to achieve with your enterprise social network, but having a number of collaborative tools in addition to activity streams and status updates available may encourage use beyond people just saying what they're doing. These tools should at the minimum include the ability to create blog posts and potentially wiki pages.

  5. Search

    Something that can often be overlooked when thinking about an enterprise social networking tool is the search.  Being able to find posts and other content within an enterprise social networking tool is important to ensure that if someone is looking for someone or something they're able to do so. If an enterprise social networking tool doesn't include a search tool then organisations need to think carefully about how they're going to "surface" content that has been published. This might be through an enterprise search tool or through regular updates, although the latter will only capture recently created content.

  6. Integration with other systems - Active Directory (AD)

    The IT department should be able to easily integrate an enterprise social networking tool within the firms existing security infrastructure. This should allow individuals to seamlessly "sign on" to the social network without having to enter a username or password. Without this feature many individuals may not use the network as entering a username and password will act as a barrier to adoption.

  7. Good security

    An essential feature of any enterprise social networking tool is that is has appropriate security measureS in place. So if individuals want to create private groups or send private messages within an ESN, they should be able to do. this. A lot of issues around security will also be covered by appropriate governance, which will cover things like access to the ESN, control rights, and monitoring of the ESN.

  8. Document sharing/file sharing/DMS integration

    If possible the ESN should integrate with any Document Management System (DMS) an organisation has in place. This ensures that if individuals want to collaborate on documents they can easily reference these within the ESN.

  9. Groups

    It should be easy for individuals to create groups within any ESN and if necessary for these groups to be private or have restricted access.

  10. Mobile and desktop applications

    An excellent way of encouraging use of an ESN is to ensure users can access it and upload content in a number of different ways. So this means looking at whether there is a mobile version of the tool and whether there is a desktop application that can be installed to provide instant updates to users.

  11. Leaderboards/gamification

    Another way to encourage usage of an ESN is to think about using gamification techniques to encourage users to post content.

A 3rd way to build an intranet

If you're an intranet manager looking to upgrade or replace your intranet you usually have two choices when it comes to new products:

  1. SharePoint 2010 or 2013
  2. Another Content Management System (CMS) that offers similar features to SharePoint

So the question asked by Jesper Bylund in his blog post "Our third way intranet" is whether there is a different away to build an intranet that provides all the functionality of SharePoint but without the overheads and development time of SharePoint, but that also offers the flexibility of a bespoke CMS.

According to Jesper it is possible to do this by combining the functionality contained within different products. In his blog post he outlines the ways they have addressed their business requirements using a number of different tools. So in order to facilitate blogging they started using Wordpress. When individuals started asking for Wiki functionality on the intranet they looked at Mediawiki. Using these best of breed tools meant that Jesper's organisation was able to provide functionality that their existing CMS didn't support, without having to go through a long search for a replacement CMS.

In his blog post Jesper also outlines the other benefits that have come from integrating best of breed solutions within the existing CMS. They are that:

  • Having seperate tools embedded within the intranet means the best tool is available at all times
  • Using open source tools saves on development time and costs
  • The tools could be swapped in and out relatively easily
  • The open source tools can be updated by 3rd parties more easily then updating the entire intranet

Jesper has included some screenshots in his blog post, which are well worth reviewing to see how he has integrated tools like Wordpress and Mediawiki.

50 ways to a better intranet

Hello and welcome back to my blog! I know it has been a while, I could rattle off a number of excuses but I wont, instead I'll get right back into blogging by talking about this post on "50 ways to a better intranet" on the Worldwide Intranet Challenge blog.

In the blog post Andrew Wright, looks at some of the ways in which intranet managers can make their intranets "better". Andrew groups these into the following tasks, which are then looked at in more detail:

  • Finding information
  • Completing work tasks
  • Interactivity (staff contributions)
  • Performance
  • Look and feel
  • Content
  • Maintenance (governance)
  • Other
  • - See more at: http://www.worldwideintranetchallenge.com/2013/08/50-ways-to-a-better-intranet.html#sthash.MuWTKkvw.dpuf
    • Finding information
    • Completing work tasks
    • Interactivity (staff contributions)
    • Performance
    • Look and feel
    • Content
    • Maintenance (governance)
    • Other

    I'm not going to say much about the list of tasks and the sub-tasks apart from that it's a very good list for any intranet manager who is new to their role and is looking at how they can improve their intranet quickly and effectively.

    I was interested to see that Andrew included creating a "best bets" lists. This is something we've looked at the past, but haven't yet implemented. Whilst best bets can be useful, they can take a lot of work to implement and you need to ensure you speak to all potential parties about what items should appear at the top of search results.

    If you haven't already then I definitely recommend you have a look at these 50 ways in which you could improve your intranet.

    SharePoint...good or bad?!

    If you're looking at replacing your current intranet, one of the tools you might be considering is SharePoint. Microsoft which develops SharePoint has recently released a 2013 edition which on the face of it looks impressive compared to previous versions.

    But the big question will also be is SharePoint good or bad. Whilst there are many different features contained within SharePoint and it's an incredibly powerful tool, what's potentially more important when it comes to SharePoint is how it's implemented.

    This is Mark Morrell's viewpoint in his blog post "Is SharePoint "good" or "bad" in it he looks at five factors that can influence how successful a SharePoint implementation can be, they are:

    • Strategy - Mark stresses the importance of not just having a strategy for SharePoint, but a strategy that encompasses all aspects of your digital workplace
    • Governance - This is a key factor in any SharePoint implementation and Mark stresses the need for their to be a good governance framework in place. Without a governance framework as Mark suggests it may be unclear as to the purpose behind the SharePoint implementation
    • Planning - Irrespective of the tool, application or content management system you're implementing you need to have a clear plan about how you're going to do it. Without a carefully thought out plan the only thing you're likely to see is the project fail.
    • Education - If you're thinking about implementing SharePoint then you definitely need to be thinking about how you're going to communicate the changes to your users. SharePoint may well be significantly different from the technologies previously used in your organisation. So you need to think carefully about how you're going to communicate the changes.
    • Business Need - Finally, but perhaps most importantly Mark stresses the importance of having a Business Need for any new application you're implementing. You and your organisation need to be clear in your mind about why you're implementing SharePoint or any other tool.

    There is a lot more to this article then I have just highlighted here, so I recommend having a look at the original if you're looking at how your organisation could use SharePoint.

    BIG data = a BIG problem

    Yesterday I attended the 2nd LIKE Conference "From BIG data to little apps" I'd spoken at last years conference on social media and have been invited to take part in the LIKE microphone session where practitioners talked about how they were managing big data.

    Before that though we were treated to three talks on what Big Data was and how it was being managed outside of the library/information sector. The first of these was from Dom Pollard of the Big Data Group Insight Group. Dom provided an excellent introduction to the concept of big data, including a good definition, which is that Big Data is about:

    • Volume, variety and velocity and Big Data is any amount of data that is too large to be stored, managed or analysed within a traditional database structure

    However Dom stressed that it was important not to get hung up on Volume. Stressing that just because you have a lot of data doesn't necessarily mean it's Big Data. I think this is an important point. Whilst many organisations create a lot of content, take the average law firm and imagine how many emails they have in their document management system? it's going to be millions and millions, but is that Big Data? Probably not in the traditional sense, but it's certainly a lot of information that needs to be managed somehow.

    Dom also talked about the benefits of collaboration with other Big Data sources arguing that:

    • Not all the data has to sit within your organisation
    • Creating mutually beneficial relationships can open up new possibilities
    • You should be prepared to embrace disruption and undergo a paradigm shift

    The final key takeway was that you shouldn't blindly trust any data (including big data). Just because something is being presented to you in a nice format, doesn't mean it should be trusted. 

    Our next presentation was from Michael Agar or Michael Agar Design. Michael talked briefly about how he created infographics to present complex information. One of Michael's first points was that all data needs a story. I think this is true to some extent, but like another attendee I suffer from infographic fatigue, in that all information nowadays seems to presented as an infographic. As I said in one of my tweets during the conference, some of these infographics just go on and on an on without really telling a story. I do believe that infographics can be an incredibly useful tool in presenting complex information, but they have to be used properly.

    After Michael's presentation we then heard from Manny Cohen of the RM Group. Manny talked about how they had developed an app to present company information to consumers. You can read more about the app in this BBC Click video. Whilst this was interesting, it was unfortunately followed by a rather pointless exercise in looking at the future of information delivery, whilst the 15 minutes spent discussing this amongst ourselves was interesting, the 30 minutes spent analysing the results and then deciding on a winner was not. Especially as my table, which had probably the least tangible and well thought ideas won a glass of champagne each, which sadly I didn't get to enjoy.

    The final session was the "LIKEmic" session where I was one of three presenters. During my session I talked about how we had been using Enterprise search to manage the data we were creating and present it to users. I also talked about how I believe intranets and specifically intranet dashboards have a key role to play in the delivery of complex information to users. As I said during my presentation, dashboards have the potential to make sense of complex information and tell users what they need to know rather then just present them with dead data.

    Overall quite an interesting conference, although I didn't get as much out of it as last years conference on social media. I would also say I felt the venue last year was a bit better then the St Bride foundation. My main bugbear was that the room we were in was very large and the microphones didn't work particularly well.

    [Photo credit - Big Data on Flickr]

    Can intranets "go bad"?

    Is it possible for an intranet to bad? Yes definitely is the short answer. Understanding why is more difficult to answer, but one of the most common reasons for intranets going bad is that content becomes outdated and nobody takes responsibility for updating it.

    This issue is discussed in the blog post "Why intranets go bad - set it and forget it" In the blog post the authors look at why intranet teams often spend a lot of time during an intranet upgrade ensuring content has an owner, but once an intranet has launched responsibility for content sections can often be neglected or forgotten.

    The authors argue that whilst a decentralised published model might work initially, over time it will break down as individuals leave departments and with is responsibility for updating content. The answer the authors suggest is to put in place the idea of delegated ownership of intranet pages. Frpm the blog post:

    "Delegated ownership differs from assigned ownership in that the responsibility is bestowed upon an individual or role temporarily but ultimately remains with a core group. Delegations can be open ended and long term but the ultimate responsibility still remains with the central authority. So when the person to whom the ownership has been delegated changes roles, goes on long-term leave or leaves the organization, authority automatically returns to the core team, who then decides who takes over. This central group is also responsible for ensuring adequate training and support are available"

    Whilst this sounds like it might work, in practice it does mean that there is a lot of extra administration for the central intranet team and if that is just a team of one then this extra administration could quickly become very onerous. I'd be interested to hear what other people think?

    This blog is just one in a series of four posts on "Why intranets go bad" on the non-linear thinking blog, the other posts, which are well worth reading, are:

    BIALL Conference 2013 - Part 2

    With Thursday behind us delegates awoke fresh as the proverbial daisy to the sessions planned for Friday. The first of these was a session on Managing change, these probably had some good ideas and some interesting takeaways, unfortunately I was focusing on events later in the day at that moment in time so probably wasn't given the session my full attention.

    The next session however was definitely more interesting. Called "Flipping the classroom" Nicola Sales looked at how she had turned training on its head at her academic establishment. This was achieved by essentially asking individuals to complete pre-training exercises so that during the training that followed the focus could be on interacting with the individuals rather the delivering a lecture style address. I thought this was a really concept and one that could be applied to all organisations, not just academic law libraries.

    I then listened to how the lovely Maria Robertson was working outside the box in her role at the Society of Advocates - Aberdeen. What I took from this session is that Librarians working in any organisation should take any opportunity (within reason) that they can do, as it may lead on to even more bigger and better opportunities. The other thing I left feeling was that there was no way I could do Maria's job, but that it certainly sounded very exciting. This session was followed by the BIALL AGM, which I had eluded to earlier in this post. This was the session I had been most dreading as it's a very official affair and there are certain procedures that have to be undertaken in the correct manner. Fortunately the AGM went without too many issues and certainly no procedural issues, which was a relief.

    I then attended a session delivered by Colin Frankland called "Building your online professional brand" this looked primarily at how Law Librarians could use LinkedIn to develop their online brand. There were definitely some interesting takeaways from this session. Although I would say that LinkedIn isn't the only way to develop an online brand. Blogging and Twitter certainly have there place. However what I would say is that LinkedIn is probably the safest way to develop a brand online and if you don't already have a LinkedIn account then you should definitely have one!

    The final session of Friday was a session delivered by the editor of Legal Information Management (LIM) David Wills. In the session David looked at the history and future of LIM and encouraged those present to think about writing an article for LIM. I would definitely support this having written for LIM on a number of occassions in the past. Writing for a journal like LIM is a great opportunity to show what expertise you have in a particular field. It's also a great way to sell yourself to the rest of the profession and increase your brand, which followed on nicely from the last session.

    With that the sessions on Friday finished and it was time to head for the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum for the Presidents Reception and the final flourish, which was 5 scottish drummers and bagpipe players. Highlight of the evening however had to be the conversations that followed the dinner and bagpipers whilst looking around the museum, these included, birds coming alive, barnacles, killer kangaroos, stag horns, the closet relatives to wolves, which animal you wouldn't want to be killed by and a discussion around some of the quirkier exhibits. 

    Saturday went by in a bit of a blur, although I do have to share the following song, which was played to us during the session from Bruce Beveridge - Incoming President of the Law Society of Scotland. I think this is brilliant!

    After Bruce's session it was pretty much downhill until the end of the conference and flights/trains home for conference attendees. In summary a fantastic conference as ever and the end of a very challenging, but ultimately very rewarding year.

    BIALL Conference 2013 - Part 1

    I know I'm sorry it has been a while since I have blogged, but I promise to do better in future. The reason for the lack of blog posts will be evident to many of you, but just in case you aren't aware up until yesterday I was President of the British & Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL) It was an honour to represent the association at the highest level and I would recommend joining Council to anyone who is thinking about doing so.

    What that has meant is that May and the beginning of June in the lead up to the Conference have been a bit manic! Now I was hoping that I would be able to provide a full summary of the sessions I attended, but unfortunately I was too caught up in the activities the President has to undertake at Conference to make substantive notes. So instead I have tried to remember some of the key points from the sessions I attended. I'm sure in due course there will be much better written summaries of the BIALL Conference published. I would urge you to read these and the selected papers which will appear in the Winter edition of Legal Information Management and bursary winner reports in the BIALL newsletter.

    So back to the Conference :-) For me the Conference started with the overseas delegates dinner on the Wednesday night before the Conference. This was a great opportunity for Council Members to meet the delegates from our sister associations (ALLA, NZALL, OSALL, SLA Legal and CALL) and to relax in the very pleasant surroundings of the 19th floor of the Hilton. I was struck by how much everyone was looking forward to the conference and catching up will colleagues. The Conference started properly with my opening of the Conference of the Thursday morning, for anyone who is interested in what I included in my opening speech, you can look at some of the photos on the BIALL Flickr pages, including one of me doing a MoBot, or a MullBot as I referred to it! Professor Hector MacQueen then delivered a very interesting Keynote & Willi Steiner Memorial Lecture. The highlight of this had to be the playing of the Monty Python - Black Knight video

    This was followed by a session delivered by Carol Tullo - Director of Information Policy and Services at the National Archives, who outlined the development and future development of Legislation.gov.uk There are some interesting developments planned, which I'm sure many Law Librarians will be pleased to have heard about. The next session I attended was called "Developing mature social media platforms". Whilst I wouldn't ordinarily complain about sessions that I've attended at Conference, as the organisers do such a good job, there was very little that I took from this session. The session certainly didn't talk about developing mature social media platforms, but rather took us on a tour of the presenters favourite social media tools. This was a real shame, as the session was very well attended and as ever with social media people are always interested in learning how they can do more with these tools. 

    The last parallel session of Thursday was a really excellent presentation from Sam Wiggins and Marie Grace Cannon who talked about new professionals and the results of a survey they had undertaken earlier that year. I was impressed at how well they spoke despite some technical issues and they introduced a new concept to me, which was the concept of battledecks. I thought this was a really great to way to both see how well participants had been listening and to reinforce the training that had been delivered, definitely something to consider for future presentations.

    However the highlight of Thursday had to be my presentation of the Lexis Library Awards and a very special prize to Catherine McArdle. It was an honour to present these new awards to three very worthy libraries. I was also delighted that Catherine was a good sport and played along with my adlibbing when I presented her a "lifetime achievement award" for attending 25 consecutive BIALL Conferences. That could have gone REALLY badly, but everyone I spoke to commented on how they weren't expecting me to do that! and that was the end of Day 1. Day 2 and 3 will be covered in my next blog post!

    Larkfield 10k

    A couple of weekends ago I took part in the Larkfield 10k. This was my first race since the Brighton Marathon so I wasn't expecting to set any PB's. I had in my mind a time of under 50 minutes and would have been happy if I'd have run 49:59.

    As it was I ran a bit faster then that, but before I tell you my time a bit about the race itself. This is the fourth time I've run this race having run it in 2009 when I completed a slightly different course in 45:38, 2011 when they changed the course and I ran a time of 48:23 and last year when I completed the 10k in 44:58 (only the second time I've ever run a sub 45 minute 10k). The race starts at the East Malling Research centre, the course then winds it way quite nicely through some of the outlining villages before finishing in the Research Centre.

    So back to this years race, first off I made the mistake of wearing a long sleeved top, thinking that it looked a bit chilly. It wasn't once we got started, I also think I started too slowly completing the first 5k in 24:44, but then magically I managed to run a negative second 1/2 of the race coming in at 48:44 and exactly 24 minutes for the second 5k.

    I was quite pleased with that result given that it was only 3 weeks since the Brighton Marathon. I definitely need to work on my speed though so will be incorporating some speed sessions into my training from this point forward.

    One final thing, what is it with runners who sprint for about 30 seconds and then slow right down again, there were several of these types of runners at Larkfield and I'm not sure what it achieves? Especially as I passed all of them during the course of the 10k route.

    PLC Knowledge Management Forum 2013

    Last year I was lucky enough to attend the PLC Knowledge Management forum for free, this year my firm was happy to pay for me to attend as there were some useful sounding sessions. I found the event last year really interesting and was looking forward to a similar event this year especially as they had retained the services of Katharine Ward of Vodafone as Chair of the event.

    The day itself was divided into a series of themes with a mixture of plenary (everyone attended) and interactive sessions. Before our first themed session we had a very interesting presentation from Carol Aldridge of Burges Salmon. Carol looked at the future of Knowledge Management and what it would look like in 2020. There were 3 main takeaways from her presentation, which were:

    • We need to be enhancing how lawyers can deliver more for less
    • We to make more effective use of collaborative tools in our new technological age
    • We need to ensure that we gain buy in from senior management. This ensures that we remain relevant

    After Carol's opening presentation we moved on to the first theme of the day, which was Technology. Now I was quite excited about the first presentation of this theme which was called "Managing media channels to deliver content: capture knowledge and absorb and distribute" Sadly I was going to be disappointed, although now the event is over looking at the presentation title I can see what they were trying to achieve.

    The session started with an introduction to some of the formal and informal social media tools we currently use and then asked the question how do we share knowledge with clients using these types of tools. Now it would have been really interesting to have heard some ideas about how we could do this. Unfortunately we were then shown a series of what I'm going to call "portals" built using software from the search engine giant Autonomy and populated with RSS feeds and other content. Now 10 years ago this might have been groundbreaking but to me it just looked like a web page with RSS content on it supported by a very good search engine. I think I said on Twitter that social media sessions can be quite difficult to get right and sadly this one didn't quite cut it.

    The next session definitely didn't disappoint and again it was on a subject I'm quite interested in, the Cloud. In the session Mark Collins "Expertise Enablement Officer" (you have to love that job title) at Zurich provided a really useful introduction to what the Cloud is, the different types of Cloud and some of the benefits of using the Cloud. I think most Law Firms are aware of what the Cloud is, but it seems that it has only been in recent years that they've become more positive about the potential uses for the cloud. Perhaps the most interesting part of Mark's presentation was around some of the issues associated with the Cloud and how these can be mitigated. These risks include Data Protection including issues with data centres being situated outside of the EU; security, specifically ISO 27001, which is an information security management systems standard and perhaps most significantly a lack of understanding around what some of the issues are. Of course there are ways to mitigate the risks with using the cloud, these include picking your cloud model and supplier carefully. Out of all the sessions delivered during the day this was certainly the most practical and Mark delivered what is quite a technical subject in a very engaging manner.

    The next session was delivered by Katharine Ward and whilst it was interesting it was a bit of a rehash of the presentation she delivered at last years forum so I'm not going to write anything further about it. As you can read my notes from last years Knowledge Management Forum. Following Katharine we heard from Helen Barker (Professional Support Lawyer at BAE Systems PLC) who described some of the knowledge systems they used at BAE Systems. These systems include a virtual information system called Ivis and a lot of examples of how BAE had used webinar technologies. These were described as a key resource for lawyers, especially where they sit in different jurisdictions/time zones. Helen also described how Knowledge Sharing across BAE Systems wasn't uniform, with different initiatives happening in different offices. However what Helen did say was that no matter what the jurisdiction Knowledge Management objectives take time to achieve and this is a key consideration.

    The next session was the first interactive session and was one I'd been looking forward to as it was a panel session involving Ruth Ward of Allen & Overy and Oz Benamram of White & Case. The session was called "Using portals and search to surface and share legal knowledge" and was a whistlestop tour of some of the tools we now have available to share legal knowledge. However before the "tour" Ruth and Oz outlined the challenge that we as Knowledge Managers and Information Professionals face compared to 10 years ago. So 10 years ago the biggest challenge was providing access to information. Now one of the biggest challenges we face is not providing access to information, but how we shift through the information that we have. Ruth described this as a move from access to information to attention management and cited Linex as a good example of how personalisation is useful in attention management.

    We were then taken on a tour of some of the tools available to Knowledge Managers and our starting point was a subject close to my heart; social intranets/internal collaboration tools. Ruth and Oz described how intranets will continue to see lots of development, with a continued shift from traditional to more interesting and social ways of presenting information. They also described how collaboration tools would continue their move from the consumer world to behind the firewall. Behind the firewall they're continuing to be used as dynamic organic resources for sharing knowledge and collaborating with colleagues. Ruth and Oz then looked at two more concepts, which were Document and Matter Management and the role of search. I'm very interested in how search tools can be used so it was interesting to hear how Linklaters were using Autonomy as a search tool,  but with a customised interface. We also saw some examples of how White & Case were using DecisivSearch to display experience and manage matters and I have to say it looked impressive.

    The final session of the day was a really interesting talk from Jane Keen of Intel Corporation. Jane, who it should be noted had literally just flown back from San Francisco, told the forum a story about how KM has and is still being implemented within the Intel Corporation. This was full of some really interesting observations on how KM can and cant work. For example she told a really interesting story about how they had rolled out a wiki tool for some of their lawyers and whilst it was well populated initially when it come to editing the wiki individuals were less positive about doing this. This was a really interesting final session and Jane delivered it with real enthusiasm and it was a very positive and fun way to end the day.

    So overall another excellent day, my one comment would be that it was noticeable how few Law Librarians there were attending this year. I think that has something to do with the cost, also a significant part of the forum was aimed squarely at Professional Support Lawyers and Knowledge Managers rather then Law Librarians.

    The curse of intranet quick links

    I'm a big fan of the the work the Intranet Benchmarking Forum (IBF) does, although sadly the organisation I work for isn't large enough to become a member. Anyway the latest posting on their blog is about something very close to my heart, which is the very tricky subject of intranet quick links and the best way to do them.

    Intranet quick links are designed to give "quick" (the clue is in the name) access to resources and applications that are used regularly. Whilst this is a great concept they suffer from a number of issues as outlined in the blog post on the IBF blog;

    • The list is too long - The worst possible thing you can do is present a list of useful and essential links to a user and for them to see that it's 4 pages long :-(
    • The links aren't quick - Quick link would indicate that when someone clicks on it they go there "quickly". If the link goes to another page where another link has to be clicked then it's not a quick link.
    • The link is ambiguous - If it isn't obvious what is going to open/display when the link is clicked on then the link is a failure. The label attached to a link should be clear and make it obvious what is going to happen (as with all other links)
    • Links are unpredictable - To cut a long story short, don't chop and change what your quick link points to, this will just confuse your users.
    • They're quick, but are they useful - If you have to add a new quick link to your intranet, check that it's actually going to be used. If it's only used once in a blue moon by less then a 1/4 of the organisation then it probably shouldn'y be in a quick link list.

    Having looked at some of the problems with intranet quick links the blog post then provides some examples of and best practice in relation to intranet quick links. I'm impressed with the examples provides in the blog post and even more so with the best practice suggestions, which include the following:
    1. Choose links by popularity
    2. Link directly to applications and forms
    3. Let users add their own links (if your CMS allows it)
    4. Provide roll over explanations

    There is more information and best practice tips in the full blog post. Also if you haven't already I highly recommend registering for the Digital Workplace 24. A 24 hour tour of amazing intranets and digital workplaces.

    Pros and Cons of SharePoint 2013

    I think we're going to hear a lot about the new version of SharePoint now that more organisations are looking at SharePoint 2013. So I was intrigued to find out more about some of the new features and whether they're actually that good.

    If you're wondering what I used to find out more about the Pros & Cons of SharePoint 2013, then look no further then the slides I've linked below from Toby Ward of Prescient Digital Media and Tamer El Shazli of Social Business Interactive.

    You can of course look through the entire slide pack, but to save you doing that to some extent I've outlined some of the major Pros and Cons below.

    1. SP2013 comes with improved branding and customisation options. Whilst this is much improved from 2010, it's still not as good as it could be.
    2. The user interface is now independent from Silverlight. Which if you know what Silverlight is, great fortunately I don't!
    3. SP2013 now includes app stores. Whilst the new custom apps concept makes SharePoint customisation a lot easier the apps are still very clunky and rudimentary.
    4. The office apps in SP2013 are however very impressive.
    5. SP2013 includes enhanced social features, which I'm sure many organisations and individuals will be pleased about. For example the newsfeed is now much more like Twitter. However the social features sitll have their limitations and issues. You also have to think that Yammer will have an impact on SP2013, it may either complete the social features of augment them, either way it's bound to have an impact.
    6. SP2013 includes an enhanced mobile experience. Whilst this experience is better then previous version it's still not idea.
    7. Finally SP2013 offers an improved cloud experience, with the introduction of SkyDrive.

    Those were the major Pros and Cons I noted. For more on the Pros and Cons of SharePoint 2013 the slides are embedded below.


    Brighton Marathon 2013

    A medal well worth the 26. 2 miles
    Well it was the moment I'd been in training for months for and at the end of the day it didn't disappoint. Last Sunday the 14th of April I completed my first Marathon in 4:19:56 :-)

    What to say about the day, aside from it was an emotional, exhausting, but ultimately amazing experience! I thing the first thing to say is that the support on the day was amazing from the Alzheimer's Society that I was running for to the thousands of individuals lining the route shouting my name the encouragement was fantastic and it certainly helped towards the end of the race.

    As to the run itself I made two schoolboy errors, the first was to not apply any suntan lotion, which meant that at the end of the day I looked very much like a boiled lobster. I also felt quite dizzy at the end, but 10 minutes in the shade sorted me out. I was quite fortunate in this respect as several runners collapsed both on the course and after they finished. There was also the tragic news that a 26 year old runner  suffered a cardiac arrest on the course and died later in hospital. My other schoolboy error was to not check my equipment properly. So despite my sports belt fitting properly when I was walking around with it, when I went to run it immediately fell off. Instead of stopping and adjusting it so that it did fit properly I decided to sling it around my neck and spend the next 26.2 miles looking like I was carrying a bandolier!

    Once I'd got over the fact I was going to be carrying my sports belt for 26.2 miles I managed to focus on the course itself and to be honest ran a pretty good first 13.2 miles. The first 10k was completed in 55:35 and I reached halfway (13.2 miles) in 1:57:17. I was quite pleased with this and felt although I wasn't aiming to run sub 4 hours, that this was just about on sub 4 hour pace. My target was to run 4:£0 and I was pretty much on this pace the entire way round. Then unfortunately I had a few bad miles especially 15-17 where I noticed a lot of people were passing me. I think this probably conincided with the temperature rising substantially. As it was I reached 30km (18.6 miles) in approximately 3 hours. Then followed a rather tortuous 1:20 where I made my round the desolation that is the Shoreham Power station before looping back, past the fantastic Alzheimer's supporters on to the sea front and finally Madeira Drive and the very emotional finish!

    Overall a fantastic day, amazing atmosphere and support from the crowds, a great medal and winners top and a feeling of euphoria having completed the 26.2 miles! Would I do again...absolutely.

    Shorne Woods Parkrun the 4th

    So I know it has been a while, but I've got lots of exciting things to talk about, however if you're expecting me to talk about intranets and social media I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed. At least for a short while.

    First up is the latest in the series of Shorne Woods Parkruns. I've been involved with the Shorne Wood

    An alternative way to enjoy Shorne Woods
    Parkruns from the planning stage and I've been to be able to marshall at two of the Parkruns. The latest was this morning where 16 runners turned up to take on the 5k course. It was a lovely morning for a run, with a slight chill in the air, but beautiful blue skies overhead and not a cloud in sight. I also dragged along my eldest, who didn't run, but enjoyed climbing a few trees whilst I encouraged the runners around the course.

    Amongst these runners I was especially pleased to see someone from Twitter who I'd been chatting with for a while take on the course and to go round in a very respectable (although they said slow) time of 22 minutes. Despite there only being 16 runners I think everybody enjoyed running today, hopefully as the weather improves we can get more people to attend. If you haven't run a Parkrun before then you should have a look at their website and if you're in the Dartford/Gravesend/Higham/A2 area then you should definitely think about running the Shorne Woods Parkrun.

    Driving business value with enteprise social

    The next webinar I was lucky enough to listen in to was from Yammer and was called "Driving business value with enterprise social" and included presentations from Charlene Li of Altimeter and Roland Hulme of Tyco.

    Charlene began by looking at the evolution of collaboration from Knowledge Management to Collaboration Platforms to where we are now with Enterprise social networks. These enterprise social networks effectively mirror the social networks used in the consumer world.

    Charlene then explained that there were four ways in which organisations could drive business value through the use of enterprise social tools. They are by;

    1. Encouraging sharing
    2. Capturing knowledge
    3. Enabling action
    4. Empowering employees

    Charlene then went into some detail about why these elements are so important. So in relation to encouraging sharing, this is important because it creates a two way dialogue, makes business personal and makes people feel closer to leaders by reducing the distance. So if an individual sees a blog post from a CEO or CFO they're likely to feel more connected and closer to them because they can read what they've posted and potentially comment on it.

    Next Charlene looked at how it's important to be able to capture knowledge, especially if you're often asked to identify expertise. Capture knowledge effectively will avoid duplication of effort and also means organisations should have more effective coordination, if they can see what other individuals are working on and what expertise they have. Capturing knowledge is also important in sharing best practices to ensure your organisation is working as effectively as it can. However even more important is how your organisation captures tacit knowledge, that is the knowlegde that exists inside someones head and that isn't written down anywhere. This can be the most important knowledge to capture as it will include questions that individuals are asked again and again. Capturing this in an effective and efficient way is a potential role for an enteprse social tool.

    Another area where enterprise social tools can help is around solving problems. How well essentially because enterpirise social networks cane help bring outsiders into conversations that might not have otherwise been involved in. Finally enterprise social networks an help empower employees by giving them a voice they might not have had otherwise. Enterprise social networks also allow employees to make meaningful contributions, increase engagement and potentially increase satisfatction and retention of staff. However in order to do this there needs to be engagement by those at the very top of the organisation.

    Finally Charlene looked at how organisations could move forward with enterprise social networks. She outlined four areas that form a strrategy for the development of enterprise social tools. They are;

    • Objectives, these need to be clear and identify and prioritise the gaps that an enteprise social tool can fill. Organisations should also ensure that they design their long terms goals with a clear purpose in mind.
    • Metrics, whilst you might not think metrics would be important at the start of the projetc, it's important to have these in place to measure the success of the project.
    • Relationship management, is an important consideration. So this means ensuring that there is an appropriate budget, number of staff and that the project is resouced appropriately. Organisations should also ensure that executives are involved at an early stage.
    • Think about the relationships you want to build with enterprise social. This is very important and essentially means looking at what you relationships and conversations you want to encourgae and build your enterprise social tool around this. Not necessarily around features. Once your enteprise social tools is in place then you should think about having simple guidelines and investing in evangelists.

    After Charlene we heard from Roland Hulme of Tyco who talked extensively about how they had moved their intranet from an unknown tool (my guess SharePoint 2010) to Yammer. Roland talked about some of the issuses they had with their existing intranet and some of the reasons why they chose Yammer. From the perspective of an intranet manager this was very interesting.

    One of the biggest driver for adopting Yammer according to Yammer was that it matched the strategy of the business in that they were looking to make communictation more open, get answers faster, be seen as a unified and reduce IT and other costs. Roland also explained how the did it, which again was quite interesting, although sadly there weren't any screenshots of what I would call traditional intranet content. How they did it, looked like it was very well planned and included an audit of review of all resources.This is something you'd definitely see in a normal intranet project, so it surprised me to see it here!

    Finally Roland outlinded the results, which were quite frankly impressive;
    • A siginficant increase in enrollment (users)
    • Engagement
    • A huge increase in the amount of content being created.

    What I would say in relation to all these points is that this is what Yammer is designed to do. So it's not really a surprise. Overall a really interesting webinar, which an interesting case study and some great hints and tips from Charlene Li.