Two days at a digital internal communication conference and three urgent topics: How, from a technical and governance point of view – should you roll out social features in the enterprise (no theory, no models – real practice is required)? Are there any wow-effects in internal communication? How do you demonstrate value?
And one – repeated – insight: vendors have a really tough time at user conferences..
Many vendors still tend to think way too complicated.
Many successtories are still just pilotphases or minority programs – hard KPIs are rare.
After two days of the Advanced Intranets and Portals conference in Amsterdam, I really wonder why content management vendors put so much emphasis on making it easy to steal and copy contents. Is that what they think their customers are doing?
- Why import images (with metadata and different resolutions and many other add ons), if copyright issues are getting more and more serious and if companies are less and less happy to use readymade stock images?
- Why build easy Youtube-Connectors for intranet, while Yuube is still blocked in many corporate networks?
- Why facilitating copy-integration of texts? Features like links have been invented quite a while ago and managing duplicate contents is one of the biggest pains in the industry.
- Build simple interfaces that also work without resizing the browser to fullscreen on a minimum 19″ screen, also for handling ore complex tasks?
- Why not build a system around simple tasks and excellent connections around them?
- And, king of all requirements, why not build a really working, reliable and understandable undo-button for all tasks in a content management system?
Enough rants; sponsored partner sessions are a tough time for both sides…
From a content and strategy point of view, Europe’s intranet managers seem to be convinced of social functions, but two main questions are not really decided yet:
Should social features be integrated in existing platforms, or should new tools be integrated?
- Using existing platforms saves a lot of worries in infrastructure setup, user integration, security testing etc., but it may limit functionality and cause quite some development efforts.
Introducing new tools may bring a plus with many new features, but it also adds integration efforts, and in my view the biggest problem is: How to not confuse employees while making them jump around between different platforms, and how not to loose efficiency with potentially unclear guidelines about which tool to use for which purpose (or loosing control in case of working completely without guidelines. Here is where I have to add that I look at guidelines in status quo corporate environments rather as facilitators than as restictors – without guidance, people wouldn’t dare to do anything unusual at work. That might change soon as well.)
- The second big decision: should you go for cloud services or for on-premises-installations? This discussion is often ended before it started by security requirements. Besides that, cloud services have their advantages if it comes to fast rollout, anywhere-anytime-accessibility, collaboration with customers and partners. On-premises-installations, on the other side, are more efficient if it comes to user integration, Single Sign On, integration with other corporate apps and content sharing (as long as it’s internal content).
Another discussion touched the potential wow effects of intranets:
- CEO Participation: Having the management board on the intranet, be it in blogs, microblogs, with an up to date profile or as participating in discussions, will bost usage and reputation.
- Integration: that may be Single Sign On, up to date profiles, good connections to other applications, or some widgets that integrate parts from other sources.
- Mobile, anytime, anywhere: accessibility is on everybodys wishlist, but hardly fully acomlished yet.
- Interactivity, usercentricity: employees have to contribute to make the intranet a great thing. Be it in co-defining requirements, creating contents or engaging in comments and discussions.
- Relevant content: Users should (only) see what they need. Targeted information may be in conflict with desired openness, but seems to be the most efficient way to achieve that.
- Expert finders: Search tools that offer relevant information about people – what do they actually do, what are they good in – not just what the org chart tells about them…
The third urgent challenge consists in finding ways to drive social networking and interactivity tools from inspiring pilot phases to broad and productive usage. The approaches depend strongly from the business you’re in: Is it globalized infrastructure or localized retail business? Are some of your business processes relevant for the whole company? Or are there many small highly communicative business areas? And does everybody really need to talk?
The day after the conference, I read this comment on Google +. I like the approach. Social is done; it’s possible and it’s happen. Time to care again what we’re actually talking about…