The Digital Workplac​e: Can your Intranet do M​ore to Drive Engagement?​

Are you?!
Earlier this week I attended a Brightstarr event called The Digital Workplac​e: Can your Intranet do M​ore to Drive Engagement For anyone who hasn't heard of Brightstarr they are an award winning "digital design company" that works with Microsoft products to build intranets; usually using SharePoint on-premise and SharePoint online/Office 365, although they have recently started using their own product Unily to provide an intranet as a service to organisations.

Taking place in the Barbican Centre the event started with an introductory session from Martyn Perks called "What the hell is the digital workplace". At the start of the session Martyn asked attendees to indicate using "Ready steady cook" style cards whether they knew what the Digital Workplace was. Surprisingly a significant number of individuals in the room were already aware of the Digital Workplace, but of course that didn't stop Martyn from finishing his presentation. At several times during his presentation Martyn referenced external sources, including significantly a reference to the Capita Employee Insight Report 2015 which provides insights into how employees think and as a result how organisations should develop their digital workplaces. Martyn's session concluded with a definition of the Digital Workplace, which I may have noted down incorrectly, but was something like "The Digital Workplace is about unifying how your business communicates and collaborates using a core set of tools". An intranet should of course play a major role in any organisations Digital Workplace, which is reassuring for intranet managers around the world.

The next session was delivered by Anna Maslanka who showed how the different technologies Microsoft has made available to organisations, could be used to develop a digital workplace. It was very interesting to see the sheer number of tools that Microsoft has made available and the extent to which they are being used by organisations. However my favourite take-away from this session was the acknowledgement that the gap between what users are used to using outside of work and what they have to use whilst in work is huge and that teams working within organisations need to try and close this gap. This makes perfect sense to me as users within organisations expect to be able to use the same tools in work, that they use outside of work.

The next session was a case study from Merlin Entertainments, which looked at their deployment of a new intranet. This was an interesting session for two reasons. First was that Merlin Entertainments focus seemed to be on making the intranet fun (which is a reflection of their vision and values) to the extent that they have a fun-meter on every page to indicate how much fun the content is. I'm not quite sure how this would work with something very dull! The intranet they had built did look really great and I'm sure it would be a pleasure to use, but I have to wonder about where all the boring but essential stuff would be published. The other interesting aspect of this presentation was that they had only designed the intranet for desktops. Now given that a large percentage of Merlin's staff are likely to be outside you would assume a mobile site would be essential, but apparently not. According to the Merlin representative this is a technical limitation of the technology they are using, which was a bit odd given that they were working with Brightstarr so it was presumably SharePoint or Unily, the latter is more likely in my mind.

Following a short break the final session of the day was a panel session, which included Marc Wright from Simply Communicate, the Internal Communications Manager from the Marine Stewardship Council, the Communications Manager from Envigo and an Account executive from Microsoft. This was a lively session with some very interesting questions taken from the floor about how to get over the barriers to adoption, what tools the panelists saw as being key to the delivery of the digital workplace and lots more!

If you are interested in learning more about the Digital Workplace and the technologies that support it then the slides from the seminar are available.