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.
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!