I was recently invited to present at the Rencontre Internationale des Responsables Intranet, a conference of Intranet managers in Paris. It was held at the prestigious Automobile Club de France in Paris (place de la Concorde). The audience was impressive and consisted of about 150 participants.
I presented on UNHCR Intranet Governance Framework and was able to listen to 19 other presentations. Some were very challenging. I saw some digital workplace which made me dream.
The overall focus of the conference was about the challenges and governance around internal social media. Here are some of the key findings from this meeting:
1. “Digital Workplace”
Jane McConnell presented the results of the 2010 Global Intranet Trends, a survey that she is conducting every year.
Her presentation confirmed that we should start talking about the “Digital Workplace” defined as the sum of
- Social (discover, discuss: real time, constant, impredictable),
- Collaboration (work, create, do: creative, goal-oriented, coordinated) and
- the (ex) Intranet (refer, learn, publish: authoritative, stable, reference).
Her presentation inspired me to open this blog and to call it the digitalworkplace 🙂
One of the main challenge of the digital workplace is to avoid silos. 75% of surveyed companies (440) consider that collaborative spaces and local initiatives bring silos in the organization.
2. Social Media is un-avoidable
There is no doubt (if there were still any) that social media has made its way into the digital workplace (ex- intranet):
- 70% of surveyed companies (440) are using social media in a way or another
- Social media challenges the traditional intranet
- It allows faster problem sharing and decision making experienced
- It makes better informed and more engaged employees, and improve knowledge sharing
- The larger the enterprise, the more social media is present
- It is difficult to assess social media in the short term, social media assessment done after 2-3 years
- Quote from one of Jane’s survey participants “Social media raises the bar for the intranet”
- Example from the conference: one employee produced a video who has been seen by 15000 people (out of the 70000 employees) – how would this have been possible before the social media age?
- It was surprising to learn that social networking is the least deployed
3. Digital teams
There is an ongoing convergence of internal + external online roles. Putting all the digital roles in the same team offer synergies and is a reality in several of the companies met at the conference. 30% of surveyed companies (440) say they have digital teams. Interesting also, there is an increasing implication of C-level people involved in the digital workplace.
4. Catalysts for change
Several examples from the conference participants examplified how the digital workplace can serve as a catalyst for enterprise wide change. At the French post, a system was put in place to allow postmen to ask or offer services to each others. The system allowed postmen to feel recognized for their contribution, something very useful for employees that are often feeling undervalued. Other similar example at another state run french company, with an online platform to share best practices (knowledge) or tools (toolkits). It saved a lot of time (and money) to the company. Finally, one of the participant from the banking sector explained how their new portal unified the company, acting as the “glue” and making its employees feel part of “one” company (the bank had recently acquired other companies).
5. Generation Y
The new generation is coming in the workplace and is looking for the same tools that they used at univ. and their personal life. This is the “always on” “anywhere, anytime” generation.
- The frontier between the internal (pro) / external (priovate) lifes is shrinking
- Gen Y described as “social” animals
- Key words for this generation: mobility, immediacy
6. Major cultural impact
At a recent conference in Denmark I asked whether “culture would eat social media” or if “social media would eat culture”. Participants in Paris shared the same questions. Quote from a participant “what will think my boss if I post something?” (culture of fear). Standard communication lines will be impacted. Established managerial lines challenged. Individual ideas will be available for the benefits of all. Is this a Revolution or an Evolution? What is sure is that the authoritative intranet will be challenged.
7. User adoption
Some key factors to take into account for user adoption
- It is essential to have Community managers (or champions, leaders). Quote from a conference participant: “It is easy to create a community, less easy to keep it alive”
- Give a strong message by forcing everyone to look into the new platform, make it the only place to find information
- Choose simple and intutitive tools that are close to what we find in the market
- Integrate social media activities (feeds) on the homepage
- Provide guides and don’t underestimate change management
- Get the right cocktail: technology + content + process + culture
- Provide rewards for participants (though I am not completely convinces, this was mentioned during the meeting)
- Gradual implementation works best, be ready to make mistake and revert
- No anonymous postings, please
- Moderation yes, but a posteriori
Will 2011 be the year of the digital workplace?