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]