Insights from ‘The Organization in the Digital Age’ report

The 10th edition of the ‘The Organization in the Digital Age‘* report has recently been released by Jane McConnell who just shared its key findings in an excellent blog post.

If you haven’t read the report yet, I am quoting here findings that I found very insightful while reading the report:

We are still at the beginning of the journey

  • “Only 4% of organization responded being very close to an organization where:
    • the workforce is engaged, leadership is open and participatory, and the work culture is based on trust and purpose;
    • digital transformation has both streamlined and enriched work practices;
    • employees and customers collaborate and innovate;
    • and the organization operates in an entrepreneurial mode – encouraging initiatives and accountability throughout.”
  • “Much works need to be done to make visions actionable, digital transformations are slow and are not sufficiently bought-in and appropriated by operational and front line teams.”
  • “The customer-facing workforce often find it difficult to get the information they need to do their jobs.”
  • “Lean processes such as agile budgets and fail-fast development are not yet common.”
  • “Most organizations says their online processes are complicated with only 11% describing them as simple.”
  • “Implementation of mobile apps has been practically standstill for 18 months.”

… but digital is making progress

  • “Three years ago, 23% of organizations said learning in the flow of work was easy. Today the research shows the figure has reached 56%.”
  • “Decision-making on digital strategy and implementation involves different levels of management and different functions in the organization, a sign that digital transformation is spreading and no longer the semi-exclusive domain of IT.”

… and evidence of its positive impact on organizations starts to appear

  • “Trust across the organization increases with greater digital maturity.”

However digital could have an even stronger impact if organizations were to act on some old but persistent realities

  • Technology is a top investment priority, education and change are low on the list.

As a matter of fact the report includes a very useful last chapter where Jane provides high level advice on what to do to move away from some of these obstacles.

For example, if you face a situation where senior leaders do not understand or are not sufficiently involved, where there is a lack of involvement from people in different units or at levels across the organization and a strategy that is disconnected from reality on the ground with competing initiatives and priorities, think about:

  • Working with decision-makers across the organization at different levels;
  • Formulating your vision in clear, compelling terms that everyone can relate to and feel ‘this concerns me’;
  • Consulting with workers at the edges of your organization, especially those who work directly with customers.

And much more, but for this, I let you discover the report.

(*): It is very interesting to note that since last year, Jane is no longer calling her report the ‘Digital Workplace Trends’ report but ‘The Organization in the Digital Age’. This new labeling allows to move the thinking away from a purely technology / tools angle and to focus on internal digital transformations that enables a fully efficient digital workplaces that supports staff in their work through a brilliant user experience journey.

Posted in digital transformation, digital workplace | Leave a comment

Introducing the Intranet cart

Our users told us: ‘I wish I could choose my content on the Intranet and download it in one go’. We delivered them an Intranet cart and this generated some interest when I presented our new Intranet during the IntranetNow conference.

Observing our users we found that most were browsing through the pages to find the documents they needed to do their work, download them one by one on their local devices… and this was done repeatedly.

That made us think of what we do when we shop on or any other online store.

You browse the site, find the items that you want, add them to your shopping cart and then proceed to checkout.

So we introduced a cart on our new Intranet.


Our users can now add the documents that are most relevant to them in their cart in two ways:

They can either add all documents they find on a page

… or they can add specific documents found performing a search query directly in the search results page.


At the end of the process, once they have finalized their ‘shopping’, users can ‘pack & go’ with a downloadable zip package that contains all the documents they added to their cart.

This is the first iteration of this cart experience.

We already thought of improvements:

  1. Allowing users to access again their previous carts to see what they ‘ordered’ in the past and possibly modify their order (i.e. add/remove documents).
  2. Allowing users to be notified when a document previously added to a cart is modified.
  3. Providing users suggestions for documents that are related to the ones they added in their cart.
  4. Evolving the cart to allow users to choose whether they want their cart to be a virtual online cart with links to online documents or whether they want the more ‘classical’ downloadable zip package.
  5. Allowing content publishers to use the cart feature to prepare ready made carts for their audience.
  6. Including pictures, videos in the ‘shopping experience’ (currently only documents can be added to the cart).

And the evolution can be endless…

Have you seen this concept elsewhere? Would it be useful for you? How else could it evolve?

This post is a first of a series where I’ll describe some of the features of our new Intranet. Stay tuned.

Posted in cloud, content publishers, feature, intranet, user experience | Tagged | 2 Comments

Intranets in a Digital Workplace and cloud era

When tasked to rethink an Intranet, it’s almost impossible nowadays to ignore the wider concept of a Digital Workplace and solutions offered by the cloud. Both dimensions force Intranet managers to think beyond their comfort zone and bring new challenges and opportunities in a career.

(c) if your organization does not allow the use of cloud solutions for security or privacy concerns, your employees are most likely already using  some cloud solutions to work in a more productive way.

They just go to ‘google’ or to their mobile device’s app store and can immediately start to discuss with partners, share files, manage tasks or collaborate. That these solutions are in the cloud is the least of their concerns.

Cloud solutions are attractive and the organizations that have been opened to them already know their benefits while keeping organizational standards for security, quality and consistency:

  • regular flow of new features and improvements,
  • improved user experience developed through constant user testing,
  • reduced costs for the maintenance of servers,
  • connected environment that can be accessed anytime, anywhere and with any devices.

But even in organizations that have adopted an open approach, cloud solutions can be disruptive and cause a few headaches to Intranet managers trying to maintain a coherent and usable set of tools for their Intranet ecosystem.

(c)‘Approved’ cloud solutions can indeed be challenged at any point by ‘non official’ solutions picked up by users without any considerations for long term information management or security concerns.

What’s more, it’s sometimes difficult to cope with the constant arrival of new tools within your ‘official’ cloud solution environment. Users don’t have the time nor the willingness to digest them all, creating large adoption problems. And you might even discover that you’ve just spent months to develop internally a solution that is suddenly available for free tip in the cloud…

Policy wise, we are evolving in gray (shall I say ‘cloudy’?) situations.

Even organizations that decided to officially use cloud solutions often lack policies on the use of other publicly available cloud solutions. Think of organizations that have Office 365 and its vast array of tools but where Facebook groups are nevertheless also used for purely internal discussions (and not Yammer)… or where purely internal webinar recordings are being posted on personal YouTube accounts (and not the Office 365 video channel)… Sometimes I wonder if people are ignorant of the risks or simply ignoring them?

Whatever the answer is, I am not sure that being restrictive is necessarily the right approach. I am starting to be very much in favor of creating internal ‘innovation labs’ where experimental cloud solutions initiated by employees are encouraged. Once submitted to the ‘lab’, the solutions would be analyzed according to their organizational fit for purpose and to see whether they meet the necessary boundaries set by the organization in terms of security and system integration requirements.

In any case, the cloud is still new and when I look at the speed with which solutions like Office 365 evolve, I wonder if all the ‘new kid on the blocks’ solutions that emerge in the market will not become standards in products like Office 365 within 2-3 years.

The other element that can’t be ignored while rethinking an Intranet in 2015 is how your Intranet will fit within the broader concept of your Digital Workplace.

I like to use the term Intranet-led Digital Workplace, as I believe that there should be a place where employees can start their working day.

However, this view is very much centered only around one of the elements of the Digital Workplace: technology as, looking at the Digital Workplace model from Jane McConnell, we clearly see that the ‘Tools’ (technology) is only one of the three elements that we need to consider.



If the Digital Workplace lies at the intersection of ‘People’, ‘Tools’ and the ‘Organization’, who should be taking care of the dimensions linked to ‘People’ and the ‘Organization’? For example, who should manage senior management sponsorship or the way an organization should rethink how its employees work?

As this role is often left vacant, should we, Intranet managers, size this opportunity to lead the development of our Digital Workplace? But do we have the right skills for doing this? 

I’ll be talking about these questions during my presentation on ‘Rethinking an Intranet in a cloud and Digital Workplace era‘ at the forthcoming JBoye conference on 5 November. Hope to see you there to exchange on the subject!

Posted in cloud, digital workplace, intranet | 2 Comments

Where augmented reality could meet the Digital Workplace

Sometimes it’s nice to look to the future.

These two videos shows examples of what our Digital Workplace of the future could look like.



Labelled as the ‘next generation of computing’ and following the path set up by the now defunct google glasses, this Microsoft mask technology, labelled as Hololens, might influence the work of the future in ways we haven’t anticipated yet.

There might be very obvious use cases in the manufacturing industry, but all sectors of the economy could potentially be impacted. Think about how some business trips could suddenly become useless if your counterparts could easily appear and interact virtually next to you?

As the video says “This technology binds the digital life with physical life”.

Other companies are already jumping on the bandwagon, including Magic Leap (supported by Google).

Are we close to the day where science fiction will become a reality?

Posted in digital workplace, future of work, innovation | Tagged | Leave a comment

Inspirations from KMWorld 2014

I recently co-presented at a workshop during the KMWorld conference on ‘New ways of working: Culture change‘. Our message was that new ways of working might be calling for different approaches to improve adoption and facilitate culture change. We presented five playful, touchable, relatable or practical approaches that we used to promote new ways of working.


For example, we explained how using Lego © blocks might not be a bad idea to engage with your audience as well as how we used ‘seed bombs’ to leave concrete reminders on our colleagues’ desks with a call to action for them to also plant seeds of change.

I then attended the conference as a regular participant. Although the conference was not purely focused on the Digital Workplace / Intranet, I enjoyed my first KMWorld and found the conference very well organized with many networking opportunities.

Here are some of my take away.

‘Culture’ and ‘leadership’ still in the way

‘Culture’ and ‘leadership’ emerged in most sessions as the main barriers to user adoption to new ways of working.

One way to overcome these barriers is to find informal leaders you can engage with to change things. And contrary to common thinking, potential ‘leaders of change’ can be found everywhere, not only at the senior management level.

In this context, Stan Garfeld gave three very simple tips to promote adoption. I find them interesting because they imply a culture element as they touch upon changing the way performance management is handled:

  1. Give three simple goals that everyone can perform in your enterprise social network and consistently communicate about these goals (for example: “ask find share”)
  2. At individual level ask managers to monitor these three goals during the performance appraisal review.
  3. Openly recognize, praise, reward and promote those who demonstrate the desired behavior.

But overall, changing (or influencing) a culture is not an easy thing and takes time. Not everyone is social or a digital citizen. As mentioned a few times in our workshop, changing a culture often means changing ‘one human at a time’ and all credits go to Change Agents Worldwide.

Working out loud

It was great to hear Jon Husband talking about the future of organizations and how wirearchy will not replace hierarchy but influence it. So if you work in an organization that is still very hierarchical, there is hope to see changes coming your way 🙂

And you might start by being the change you want to see. Nothing prevents you to walk the talk right away. A few of my colleagues were also at KMWorld. We decided to preach what we believe and to work out loud during the conference by simultaneously capturing our findings in our enterprise social network for the benefit of all colleagues who could not join the conference. A very interesting experience, a seed of change.

As Jon Husband rightly quoted on twitter

Strategy days are over, let’s be pragmatic

It may sound a bit provocative (or unrealistic? tell me) but I feel that a consensus starts to emerge to be more pragmatic in our approaches to Knowledge Management (KM) or ways to implement a Digital Workplace, most probably influenced by the agile development methodology.

For KM, the conference highlighted the importance of not referring to KM as such, to avoid big KM strategies and to rather focus on solving small, achievable organizational challenges with KM solutions, showing their direct organizational impact and business benefits. My colleague Ian Thorpe wrote a good blog post about this on turning KM strategy on its head.

Intranet innovation coming from… 14 to 17 years old students!

It was both impressing and very refreshing to discover that the Platinum award winner of Step Two’s Intranet Innovation Award went to an Intranet developed by 14 to 17 years old students!

They won because they delivered a solution that was answering their needs (e.g. apps to manage their everyday life at the campus – what an Intranet is meant for) and because it was full of design thinking.

Now imagine the expectations of these young people when they’ll start working… how will they react if our solutions are not mobile or user experience driven? So let’s get back to our basics and observe employees in their daily work to understand their needs while keeping an eye on what’s coming next.

Cloud and future

How could the future Digital Workplace look like? A video on a day made of glass was shown during one of the plenary sessions to illustrate how the physical workplace we see today might be very different in the future (credit to the post from Martin White two years ago).

But probably the most forward looking session was conducted by David Lavenda on the Consolidated Digital Enterprise. Starting from the observation that we are increasingly moving towards a ‘disconnected’ Digital Workplace – many devices, many people, many cloud solutions – and wondering how long this could last, David listed the converging trends that might come to the rescue (e.g. interoperability standards, cloud ecosystem, meta search…). Delve, Microsoft’s recent addition to its Office 365 cloud solution, is probably going in this direction although it is still at a very early stage.

Are you also looking forward to the day when the universal inbox will arrive (i.e. all systems talking to each other)?

Overall, a very inspiring conference, you can see some other findings through my storify on KMWorld.

Posted in adoption, conference, Culture change, digital workplace, gen Y, innovation, intranet, user experience, ways of working, working out loud | Tagged | Leave a comment

Take aways from #RIRSE13 Intranet conference in Paris

Last November, I participated for the second time to the ‘Rencontre Internationale des Responsables Intranet‘, an Intranet conference held in the very nice 8th district of Paris, just a few blocks away from the Arc de Triomphe.

Like in 2009, the conference included presentations from some of the biggest French companies as well as a few international speakers.

An inspiring side discussion with NetJmc and DigitalJonathan before the conference’s start lead me to write that we all have a Digital Workplace. This was confirmed during the conference with an increasing number of organizations trying to explain to their staff which tools to use, when for what purposes (e.g. with infographics)… to help their employees find their way in what appears to be Digital Workplaces.

My main take away from the conference are:

There are a few golden rules

A few golden rules were reminded throughout the conference:

  • Content is king, getting quality stories is key, but this doesn’t often translate in reality. Bob Libbey asked the audience whether the content published on their Intranet was getting attention from their audience on a daily basis. Out of 150+ participants, only 4 people raised their hands.
  • News are always prominent on the Intranet homepage, but they are often not read. Hence we can legitimately ask ourselves why do news get such a large real estate on the homepage whereas we know that people don’t read or watch news, but rather want to do things or get connected together?
  • Having the right mindset is essential to move forward on every fronts of your journey and this is especially true for anything ‘social’. The most successful Digital Workplaces are often those where the CEO is leading by example and setting the right mindset.
  • The same applies to offer a unified user experience regardless of the tools and components of your Digital Workplace through a digital consistency programme.
  • As demonstrated in the 2014 Nielsen Norman best Intranet awards “a redesign project is only as good as its maintenance, upkeep, and consistent reevaluation” – or in other words: Intranets are not projects, they are journeys.

Enterprise social networks

About half of this year’s conference was dedicated to enterprise social networks, to the point where the Twitter hash tag used for the conference #RIRSE13 included the french abbreviation for enterprise social networks (Réseau Social d’Entreprise). In most instances, enterprise social networks are used as innovation channels. Some interesting questions were raised during the conference but were not necessarily answered:

  • Should there be dedicated community managers (or rather ‘community leaders’) or should these responsibilities be part of a manager’s every day tasks?
  • Is it better to embed an enterprise social network in an Intranet or should you rather position it as a separate ‘open space’ with clear ‘democratic’ rules?
  • Why do we always need to justify ROIs for enterprise social networks whereas those were not needed for phones?


Far from being yet available in every organizations, mobile is getting its way and will increasingly do so.  NetJmc confirmed this trend when presenting the findings of her 2013 Digital Workplace Trend report (due early February). What I found also interesting is to see how mobile solutions are starting to impact the traditional desktop/laptop environment:

  • People start to think mobile first when they develop their Digital Workplace solutions. Coca Enterprise gave a really interesting example of how the mobile version of their employee self-service (based on SAP) will influence the forthcoming redevelopment of their desktop solution: From desktop to mobile and now from mobile to desktop. (by the way they won an Intranet Innovations Award for this piece).
  • I saw also a lot of instances where Apps Icons were available through mega menu to link to business applications, like the iPhone or Android’s Apps Icons, a trend that is only beginning.

Generation Y

The conference second day included a very funny role play between two presenters about the digital divide that might appear with the so called ‘Generation Y’. The person representing the ‘older’ generations argued that Gen Y:

  • Lost the notion of respect and doesn’t care enough about online reputations.
  • Doesn’t see any frontier between the private and professional life, with personal objectives even getting priority over professional ones.
  • Doesn’t need tools like Yammer etc… they’re already fully connected with everyone, they do not even need a Digital Workplace as they use their own tools, on their own devices, whenever and where ever they want.

Whether this digital divide exists or not, this happy debate concluded the second day of the conference and I am already looking forward to next year’s edition!

Posted in conference, content, digital workplace, enterprise social network, gen Y, intranet, mobile | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

We all have a Digital Workplace!

Even if we do not realize it and even if our Digital Workplace is fragmented, we all have a Digital Workplace, yes we do!

A week in the Digital Workplace by StepTwoDesigns describes the perfect Digital Workplace we probably all aim for.

But if you do one of the following activities online to do your job, then you can consider that you have a Digital Workplace:

  • Communicate with your colleagues using instant messages
  • Collaborate on a document with someone located outside of your building
  • Send a proposal to your business partner by email
  • Read an interesting (yes it exists) story on your Intranet homepage
  • Request a day off to your manager using your online HR system
  • Share a video with colleagues (that you might even have never met)
  • Submit a request for your next business trip
  • Have a video conference with your project team around the world
  • Follow a self-paced internal online course
  • Publish a document or media asset of interest to colleagues
  • Participate and contribute to a workshop whereas you are at home
  • Share an idea to make your business more profitable
  • Secure an answer from your business partner instantaneously while on the go
  • Share a large file with other teams
  • Conduct your performance appraisal
  • Look for the contact details of an expert needed for your project
  • Comment on the last corporate news
  • Check your payslip online
  • And the list can be longer…

The essential question is to know how complex or easy was your experience using your Digital Workplace to do the above activities? There are rare cases where most of these activities (note I did not say ‘all’) can be done in a unified way (with a single login, a common navigation and a seamless user experience).

But in general, most of us have to face a myriad of platforms or tools to perform our work and have to remember several passwords! Not to speak about the myriad of commercial external platforms that are gradually being used in a very pragmatic way by colleagues to perform their job (“I use it at home, and it works, why not use it at work?”).

As Digital Workplace practitioners, our role is to ensure that the tools offered and used by our workforce to get their work done, offer a unified and great user experience.

Do you have a Digital Workplace? How unified is your Digital Workplace?

PS: This blog was partly inspired by a great discussion with NetJmc and DigitalJonathan.
Posted in digital workplace, intranet, user experience | 1 Comment