Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Making Sense of Google Wave

I have had numerous invitations to join Google Wave and have been confused as to the best way to get value from it. Luckily I came across this presentation that Gina Trapani made at Web 2.0 Expo NY 09. She has a total passion for Wave and does a great job of helping demystify this new web technology.
Founder of LifeHacker.com Gina explains why Google Wave in her opinion is the most exciting web application ever. A Wave convert, she explains how in 4 weeks she and her coauthors created a book on Wave using Wave.

You can check out Gina's book The Complete Guide to Google Wave also, its free to preview.

I came across this video via Seek Omega in a tweet from @Intranets20

Monday, November 23, 2009

Future principle: ubiquitous access

James Robertson writes in his latest Column Two Post.
In 2015, staff will have ubiquitous access to information and functionality, delivered at the point of need, regardless of where they may be. This means going beyond the “intranet as an internal website”, a concept that has been holding back intranet teams for many years.
James has a clear vision of how Intranets will be expected to deliver by 2015. Full and seamless access to all the information you require to do you job quickly, efficiently and conveniently and the ability to do so wherever you are is certainly a worthwhile goal for an Intranet.

I have recently been investigating the possibility of providing key intranet content like contact information and employee self service function via mobile device. But first I am told I must decide on which mobile platform I am going to deliver my Intranet content to. Blackberry or iPhone?

I think I am going to tread water for a little longer before I commit and see what smart middleware developer can come with something that will handle both..

If you are such a developer or supplier, feel free to post comment and we can discuss.

What do successful intranet managers have in common?

I believe I have mentioned previously that I am a member of the Sydney, Australia chapter of the Intranet Leadership Forum. This group is facilitated by Step Two Designs and is made up of like minded professional Intranet tragics. The manager of the ILF is a wonderfully likable and and engaging lady named Catherine Grenfell. This week, another of my favorite people, Jane McConnell, interviewed Catherine about her article entitled What do successful intranet managers have in common?

Now I know I am biased because of my friendship with Catherine and long distance admiration for Jane and her work but regardless I am sure that if you are an Intranet Manager you will love what Catherine has to say.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Highlights from the Global Intranet Trends for 2010

Those of you who read my blog will know I am a huge fan of Jane McConnell. Jane works very hard to produce a Global Intranet Trends Report annually and the 2010 version will be available to purchase later this month.

I have been a contributor to the survey that allows this report to be compiled for the last three years and as such am lucky enough to receive a contributors copy of the report.

For those who are not so lucky, Jane has just published an overview of highlights from this years document on her excellent Globally local - locally global blog.

Highlights from the Global Intranet Trends for 2010
I'd like to share a preview of some major observations from this year's survey. These points and others are developed in the Global Intranet Trends for 2010 report.

As I mentioned above, if you take part in Janes annual survey you get to see a contributors copy of the report before anyone else. That alone is well worth the time it takes to complete her survey. The bonus of contribution is that the more companies that take part, the better the data in the report becomes so it is definitely a win / win.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Intranet 2.0 after the global financial crisis?

I am constantly amazed at the amount of work James Robertson from Step Two Designs gets through. Just a couple of days after the release of this years Intranet Innovation Awards announcement and report he is busily capturing his thoughts on the impact the Global Financial Crisis has had on company Intranets. As usual, well worth a read.

Intranet 2.0 after the global financial crisis?
Heading towards the end of
the year, it’s interesting to start to look back on what has been a
roller-coaster of a year. The Global Financial Crisis seems to have transformed
everyone’s thinking, and the ripples are still being felt in every industry.
So what has this meant for the present and future of intranets?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Avoid the intranet dumpster

Really liked this video and though I like to believe that it does not apply to me or my Intranet. Truth be known it does ring true in some part.

The below video is from ragan.com. The video echos the sentiments made by Gerry McGovern in the article Intranets are not information dumps .

CEO Mark Ragan shares seven tips on how to avoid letting your company's intranet become a dumpster of content.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why are Intranet Teams undervalued?

It frustrates me a little that so many people still view Twitter as a useless service that has no value. "Why do I need to know what kind of sandwich an acquaintance enjoyed for their lunch?" is fairy typical of the statements you hear time and again when Twitter is discussed.

I on the other hand get very excited by the potential of the micro-blogging service to build professional networks and the ability to share views, tips, techniques and experiences with like minded professionals across the globe. Ok, I will step off the soapbox and get to the point.

My company seems to value the power of our Intranet for timely communication and delivery of online business applications. Not so much though as to be forthcoming with allocation of budget and resources. Through my association with Intranet professional forums and groups I have heard similar comments from other Intranet managers and was interested to send the question out to the Twitterverse and obtain the views of my network of Intranet & Knowledge Manager followers.

The question I posed and a glimpse of the ensuing conversation follows.

I would like to hear thoughts on why Intranet Teams seem to be always under resourced and undervalued.

@awmitchell There's the obvious one about not being good at selling the benefits in stories and data. But not whole story.
@Peter_Richards Agree that success promotion and personal flag waving are skills that don't come naturally to many. Proving ROI also difficult.
@awmitchell IMO (In My Opinion) we also need to realise the feeling is common in many (maybe all) "support" or "cost centre" areas so it's more general than something specific to intranets.
@ccrask What and who isn't under resourced and undervalued? That's what I would really like to know.
@awmitchell Also a barrier of irrelevance. Executives / owners understand how value is created but don't usually have a personal relationship with the intranet themselves.
@Peter_Richards A problem I observe is that execs have minions to collect knowledge for them. The rest of us need to retrieve ourselves.
@awmitchell How relevant are intranets to the organisations leaders? Indeed. I encourage my team not to over service our directors but it is very hard.It's probably even broader than "support" functions.
@RichardHare People expect intranets to work: improvements and the way things used to be are quickly forgotten, Also, employees see few other intranets, so main comparison is the web which they always feel is superior
@Peter_Richards Great points, comparison with quickly evolving web raises Intranet expectations to ridiculous heights.
@RichardHare Lastly, perhaps related to last point, many employees don't understand what the intranet is *really* for
@RichardHare I still speak to people who want sites so other people (never them) can "share knowledge"
@seanrnicholson Intranets are cost centers & not revenue centers & orgs have done poor job proving that intranets can improve biz process.
@Peter_Richards Most can accept that Intranets save time by streamlining biz processes. But to measure Time is Money is a difficult task.
@seanrnicholson Most biz models see Intranet as overhead. Necessary overhead, though, in todays times of doing more with less.
@Peter_Richards So we are seen as an overhead? Difficult 2 quantify what is done with the time saved when business processes are streamlined.

So here is some advise on ways to address some of the issues identified in the Twitter conversations above.
  • Intranet Managers & Teams need to sell the benefits of the Intranet to users & sponsors more frequently & more effectively.

    Promote enhancements frequently (I am producing a bi monthly update containing user tips, latest enhancements & reminders of functions that users may not be aware of)

    Talk about the Intranet and promote its benefits whenever you get the chance. Be proactive and offer advise to business partners and stakeholders about how the Intranet may be able to add value to their project, knowledge base or initiatives.

  • Try not to over service very senior managers. Of course gleaning support from executive management can be very beneficial (big stick & bag of money supporter) however they are seldom your core user group. Better to focus more effort on identifying and implementing business process improvements that can help the broader user group work more efficiently. Even better if time and/or money savings can be measured and demonstrated. Bottom line savings can gain senior management support very effectively.

  • Stay Informed and keep up to date on current Intranet trends and developments. Most people today use the Internet daily and see the how it is constantly and quickly evolving. Constant changes in user interfaces, site design, information architecture, multimedia and social networking services help to raise user expectations on what they think they should be able to be delivered on the Intranet. Keeping up to date helps give you the knowledge to be able to manage expectations and in many cases offer alternative solutions. Participating in Jane McConnell's annual Globel Intranet Trends survey is one great way to do this. Read Intranet blogs (which you are doing right now), Join Intranet professional groups and forums. All essential things for effective Intranet Managers to remain on top of things.

  • Plan well ahead for platform upgrades, site redesigns, update the CMS etc. All the big ticket items. Get use to producing business cases for the things on your big picture wish list and submit them for consideration (not all at once obviously). Even if you do not get your plans approved, don't give up. Keep trying. Being able to write a compelling and effective business case is a skill that will be valuable throughout your career so don't think of a knock back as a failure, just think of it as practice. There is a truth in life that I personally have to consciously remind myself of and that is, if you don't ask you don't get.

So there is my 2 cents worth. I do try and practice all the points I have made above personally. But I am still a team of one with a limited budget, so although the advise I have provided seems to work for me in many ways, there does not appear to be a magic bullet solution. Any advances we make in gaining recognition and support are incremental and require constant vigilance of effort.

I would greatly appreciate the hear any advise, ideas and comments anyone has on how Intranet Teams might be recognised and supported for making the valuable contribution to our organisations that we all know we do.

Big thanks to @seanrnicholson, @RichardHare, @awmitchell, @ccrask, @carolyndouglas for contributing to the conversation and for ReTweeting my original query.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Intranet Site Visits - August 31 & September 1, 2009

This week I attended an Intranet Site Visits event in Perth, Western Australia. These events are invaluable for Intranet Managers as it gives the opportunity to see inside other organisations and see their Intranets first hand. Because of the fact that Intranets are internal facing and seldom seen by outsiders I value events like this. It also reinforces the fact Intranet Managers and Teams everywhere share the same kind of problems and issues regardless of the size and success of their organisations.

We got to visit 3 very different sites:

Some of the points I found very interesting from the presentations and the live demonstrations.
  • Both Sharepoint sites had used pretty much out of the box implementations. They have learned that heavy customistion of the Sharepoint product can produce great results initially however can cause significant problems when future product upgrades are considered or needed.

  • An open source solution as used by Lotterywest provides a very flexible platform on which innovative and unique Intranet applications can be developed and delivered. Providing you have a couple of talented and enthusiastic web developers handy to help.

  • Every organisation and every user is different. I am never surprised by this as it is something I have discovered time and time again. Those who end up with successful Intranets are those who put the preliminary work in on determining User Requirements via Workplace Observation, Contextual Enquiry, User and Stakeholder interviews etc.

  • Get as many end users involved in the planning, development, implementation and testing stages as possible. Users that have played a role in the development and decision making stages maintain a loyalty and pride in the end result that is invaluable.

  • Expectations of Intranet Managers and Intranet Teams are high however ongoing support and provision of adequate resources both monitory & physical are rare. The value of an executive sponsor that recognises the value of the Intranet and is prepared to champion the cause is immeasurable.
On day one of the event I held a workshop entitled "What Will Make You An Intranet Superstar?". Apart from having a blatantly over the top title, I aimed to provide participants with a few tips and techniques to help them better organise their time and focus their efforts on activities that would help gather support and gain momentum and hopefully get noticed.

I am a big fan of the Step Two 6x2 Methodology and try to regularly deliver Intranet features and enhancements that are both Visible and Tangible. I showed the group how to judge a proposed enhancement to ensure they were able to deliver on a tight timeframe, an available budget and receive the maximum possible exposure from the result. Hopefully those present were able to get some value from this thinking.

Another exercise I introduced was to define attributes of the Ideal Intranet. Using the Microsoft Product Reaction cards, groups were asked to pick 6 terms from a total of 118 possibilities that they felt described their vision of a perfect Intranet. The task is fun, it generates lots of discussion and after the exercise is completed you have 6 terms that can be used as an inspiration.

When you complete some new work you can measure it against your 6 ideal terms and see how many of them fit. If you can ever match the 6 Vision words with something you have delivered to your users you should be able to retire contented.

Unfortunately I was unable to take comprehensive notes while facilitating the workshop but I did manage to jot down the results from one table and the 6 terms they chose from the 118 possibilities were.

Work Cloud from http://www.wordle.net/

Two of the three groups participating in the Intranet Vision exercise had one term in common and all picked very similar terms which demonstrates that as Intranet Managers from different backgrounds and organisation we all seem to share a similar vision for the Intranet we manage and the users we serve.

I must say I enjoyed the event immensely. I loved visiting Perth, it is a really lovely looking city and I also loved Fremantle and the colonial look and feel of the place. The fellow Intranet professionals I met were wonderful as were the sites we visited and Intranets that were demonstrated for us. Thanks to the site hosts ( Tracey-Anne, Glenn & Donna) for letting us see under their hoods so to speak and thanks to the event organisers (Aimee & Erin) for giving me the opportunity to attend and speak at the event. Will do it again anywhere and anytime without hesitation if asked.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

5 Tips To Create a Successful Intranet
Part Three - Front Page News

Should every Intranet have a news section on the front page? This question is bound to be a contentious one. The front page news section has historically been seen as an essential item for every Intranet but this may not be true for every organisation. You need to cast an objective eye over the news section and evaluate if it adds sufficient value to justify its prime position.

I have recently done just that, evaluated the content of all news items posted over the past month, checked the monthly access stats to see what the actual readership numbers for news items are and reviewed the amount of space taken up by our news panel.

My conclusion for our Intranet was YES, the news section does provide value for users and we seem to have the balance pretty right. I have to say though that it was a pretty close call.

Many internal communications professionals see the intranet news as a vital communications channel to enhance employee engagement and indeed there is some truth to that. My evaluation of our news readership however demonstrated that items about company performance, executive appointments, project milestones, marketing media releases and the like are interesting to a very limited number of staff. The bulk of my users who check the news are interested in information that provides them personally with opportunities and items on issues that affect them directly.

The usage results table below shows the top 10 ranked news items for the month of July 09. There were 38 news items published in the 31 day period. We have approximately 6000 daily intranet users and the top ranking item was viewed by just under 8% of those users. Number 10 was read by just under 5%. You can interpolate that number 38 for the month would be a very small number of views indeed.
The content of the top 10 items can also be broken into 3 clear categories.

Offers and opportunities for employees
1 - Discount show ticket offer taking number the one spot
2 - Bulletin Board is a place where employees can buy and sell items amongst each other
3 - Shine Winners is a list of those who have won $250A employee of the month award
9 - Pre Sale Ticket offer to purchase major sporting tickets before the general public

Monthly News Letters
(Magazine type publications that contain a lot of articles about individuals)
5 - Corporate
6 - Sydney Casino
10 - One of our core business arms

Information that directly affect employees
4 - Government tax changes to employee share plan
7 - Government changes to company superannuation contributions
8 - Major company acquisition being considered

As a comparison I have provided another chart that shows the top 10 Functions and Features accessed over the same period. You can see the numbers are much higher with the number 10 ranked item being accessed more than the number 1 news item.

There are a few tips that you might like to consider about the provision of Intranet news.

  • Good volume of news items
    Make sure you have plenty of news contributions from across your organisation. If a news item stays on the front page for an entire month it is really just taking up space. Not many people re read yesterdays newspaper.
  • Limit the space each item takes
    Headings should be short but descriptive, and a very brief synopsis can be provided. Users should be able to get an idea if they are interested in an item by reading its title. They can then ignore it or click in to read more. Presenting a large chunk of the item is really once again just taking up space.
  • Good variety of information
    As illustrated above, users are interested in items that directly affect them, offers they can take advantage of and information about other employees. Posting company media releases, marketing information and self congratulatory corporate information alone is not of great interest to employees on the coal face.
  • Learn about your users
    This is a very important thing that every Intranet Manager needs to do for everything on the Intranet. Each user is different, every location is different and every organisation is different. It is up to you to identify their interests and needs. There are many ways to do this and I am sure I will elaborate on some in future posts.
  • Consider alternative methods of news delivery
    If you have a small volume of news or your contributors are limited you might consider a different delivery method instead of the traditional front page panel. Perhaps a prominent link of the front page "Current News - Last Update MM-DD-YYYY". Maybe provide an RSS feed that those interested can subscribe to. There are many options and I am sure some unique ones I have not considered that would work in your organisation.

In conclusion, the analysis and information I have outlined above is about my organisation and the Intranet I currently manage. There is no strict set of rules or guidelines that apply for every Intranet. The correct way to do things for your Intranet is what works for your users and organisation. I would however advise all Intranet Managers to take a critical look at how the news is managed on your Intranet. As my mother has always said "Just because everyone else does it doesn't mean you have to as well" and mothers always know best.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What the F**K is Social Media: One Year Later

This slideshow is very long, 83 slides, but it contains some fascinating social media statistics. Well worth a look. Apparently it has also become a global viral success and it is clear to see why.

Sourced from http://www.brandinfiltration.com/ . This is a follow up to the original What The F**K is Social Media? . Interesting to compare the stats from then and now.

What are the top 10 factors when implementing Twitter in your organisation?

Yesterday (Tuesday 4 August), the Canberra chapter of the Intranet Leadership Forum met for day one of a two day workshop and one of the items discussed was whether Twitter used inside an organisation added value. Though I was in another state and unable to attend, I was able to follow the debate via Twitter #CanberraILF. It appears that the room was split into 'For' and 'Against' camps with the 'Against' side slightly larger. There was a few undecided.

Some of the positives the 'For' team raised:
Emergency situations, have conversations within intranet author user groups, solve problems instantly.

Some of the issues raised by the 'Against' team:
Long term sustainability, potential to be a time waster, quality of information, low care factor, FOI (am assuming that was Freedom of Information), number of characters prohibiting getting message across and information overload.

Late in the afternoon the group decided to come up with a list in answer to the question "What are the top 10 factors when implementing Twitter in your organisation?".

The factors they considered were:
(In no particular order)
  1. Governance for managing
  2. Investigate security/technological requirements
  3. Content
  4. Team collaboration
  5. Executive buy-in
  6. Monitoring
  7. Policy around guidelines for users
  8. Solid business case
  9. Who gets permission to tweet
  10. Whether responses are trusted.
While the above list is by no means definitive, there are many inclusions that need to be carefully considered if an organisation intends to allow all employees internal access to Twitter.

Personally I think the ability to follow proceedings of events like this ILF workshop remotely and in real time is an overwhelming vote for the positive however the bureaucracy that exists within most organisations and breaking down the suspicions of management are realities that few have overcome.

Overall, an interesting and enjoyable debate and I would love to receive comments for things people feel should be included in the list, more arguments for the 'For' case as well as views of those in the 'Against' camp.

One final note, I came across this Template Twitter strategy for Government Departments made available by the UK Cabinet Office and have found it extremely useful. Thanks to @CraigThomler and @fanbloodytastic for tweeting the link to the template.

Thanks also to @RichardTuffin @readingroom_au @ACSnewsfeed @adriankhall @awmitchell @Alex_Manchester for contributing to the days discussions via twitter.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Intranet Manager Blogs v Intranet Consultant Blogs

The author of the fabulous Globally Local - Locally Global blog and the annual Global Intranet Trends report, Jane McConnell has compiled a list of Intranet specific blogs. In her posting she compares the number of blogs written by Intranet Consultants to those written by Intranet Managers and found the comparison to be 50/50.

It's a tie! At last, there are as many blogs by intranet managers as by intranet consultants. Bravo!
I just redid my lists of intranet bloggers and online groups and divided them into 3 categories:
Intranet managers, Intranet blogs (consultancies) and Intranet Groups Online.

I am flattered to be included in the list along with so many knowlegable Intranet specialists and get great pleasure from the fact that our Intranet Professional community is about sharing information and not all about selling services. I have been a long time subscriber to many of the blogs included in Jane's list from both fellow managers and consultant companies and find them all an invaluable source of knowledge and ideas. I would recommend any Intranet managers out there check out the blogs in Janes list and subscribe to some or all to share in this wealth of information.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

5 Tips To Create a Successful Intranet
Part Two - Positioning Your Search Functions

My second tip in this series is very simple however it is something people often overlook.

You should make your People Search & Information Search accessible ALL THE TIME. This means having the search fields visible on every page of your Intranet and preferably in the same position on each.

My current Intranet has slightly more that 5000 daily users and every month our usage statistics confirm that the most heavily used functions are People Search & Information Search. Our usage stats for last month were:

The figures quoted above may indicate to many that the Intranet is just used as an expansive & expensive phone book and its true that some of my users have in the past commented that they only use the Intranet to look up contact numbers. Regardless, if the function is useful and widely used then I should make it as easy to access as possible.

It is interesting to note the figures also illustrate that the Information Search is used a lot less that the People Search. This may be an indication that the site search function is not as useful or reliable as possible. We are continually tuning our search engine and keep an eye on this figure to monitor if usage increases. Of course the smaller usage figure may just mean that my Information Architecture and Navigation is so good and intuitive that users have no need to use the site search! (Yeah right, that's it for sure - I just looked out the window and saw a pig fly by ;).

The image below shows how our Information & People Search fields are formatted. This component is presented in the top right corner of every section of the Intranet.

The following images are snapshots of three different sections of our Intranet and demonstrates how the People & Information search facility remains accessable from wherever the user chooses to navigate to.
As I explained in my opening, this tip may seem obvious to many however I believe it is worth mentioning as simple things are sometimes easily overlooked when managing the design of a large and extensive Intranet site.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

5 Tips To Create a Successful Intranet
Part One - Solid Branding

There always seems to be a debate on whether to give the Intranet a name or not. From my experience I think it is essential that the Intranet has a name and an individual design that differentiates it from any other company website or information sources. The name along with the design become your Intranet Brand.

Visual components within your design should align with the company or organisational brand but not copy it. Perhaps there is a graphic component, font, colour or shape that is recognisable as part of your corporate identity. This can be used within your Intranet branding. However there should be no risk that an employee can be confused whether they are viewing the Intranet or the external web site.

Your branding should carry on through the entire site. Have standard page designs and style sheets throughout. Use a specific colour palette across the site. Maintain a standard site structure and navigation. Some business sections will want to create their own identity and be seen as individual but you will need manage this and find a way to provide them with some uniqueness while at the same time maintaining the look and feel of the rest Intranet (this can be difficult but can be done).

A successful Intranet brand will:
  • Help engage employees and build trust in the Intranet
  • Become synonymous with accurate and timely delivery of information (this is a big ask and will take a lot of effort but is an achievable goal)
  • Be instantly recognisable

The following example is from an Intranet I managed about 5 years ago called "The Lounge".
The colour palette used was the same as that used in our Corporate Logo. This helped align the site to the organisation without having to have the actual company logo on display. The branding imagery was contemporary and funky without being viewed as inappropriate for the business.

We successfully used cross promotion in other communication channels across the organisation. For example, within printed newsletters, articles would include a line at the end " for more on this story visit The Lounge". On promotional posters where there is usually limited space for great detail the tag "Visit The Lounge for more details" was used to drive people to the intranet for further information.

The Lounge site was a great success and received strong support by the company leadership who were able to recognise its value for staff engagement and its eventual position as the primary communication channel.

As the Intranet Manager of this site I got a great sense of satisfaction when I would overhear conversions like:

Did you read about the new travel policy on The Lounge this morning?
Q. Where can I find the Leave Policy?
A. Its on The Lounge

Many may disagree with my thinking but I maintain that a strong Intranet Brand plays an essential part in making your Intranet a success.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Maintain your social media profile and still remain employable

Earlier this year I was invited to sit as an independent representative on a selection panel for a large state utility. The position was for a Web Content Manager and we spent a day wading through the applications and culled to a manageable group of prospects. We then sat through 2 days of interviews after which the most promising and suitable candidate was recommended and eventually offered the position.

After the candidate accepted the role there was a rather lengthy period where the bureaucracy within this organisation went through the process of probity checks, approvals, sign offs, form processing etc etc etc. Apparently this process was viewed by the candidate as unreasonable procrastination and began to voice their views to friends and acquaintances on Facebook.

A couple of days before the new starter was due to commence duties, their future department head decided to do a little online checking and came across their Facebook account. Needless to say the apparently no holds barred criticism of the organisation was not well received and when the new employee finally reported for their first day they were told that they would no longer be needed.
This is a classic example of what can happen if you neglect my essential rules of using social media, regardless if it is Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or any thing else.

Rule #1 - Never put anything anywhere that you would not want your Partner, your Mother or your Employer to view.
Rule #2 - See Rule #1

The fact is that if you use Social Media sites wisely they can actually enhance you prospects for employment and the article from JobQuirk linked below provides some useful and common sense ways you can evaluate your social media footprint to determine how you might be viewed as a candidate.
Do you pass the Social Media Recruitment Test?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Intranets are falling behind what people really need

Many of you may recognize the name Jane McConnell. She is the marvelous lady who puts together the Global Intranet Trends report each year and also the author of the Globally Local - Locally Global Intranet blog. I have participated in the last two Global Intranet & Portal Strategies Surveys that helps Jane gather the data needed to put together this fabulously useful report. I would recommend to any Intranet Professional that you register to take part in the survey each year and as a reward for your participation you will receive a copy of the report.

The Global Intranet Report is an invaluable source of data and trend information from Intranets around the world that will help you put together business cases and strategies to move your Intranet forward.

The below video is an Interview with Jane after speaking at the Copenhagen IntraTeam event held in March this year. In it she speaks about some of the conclusions that are included in the 2009 Global Intranet Trend Report.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Spider - Impressive short film by David Michod and Nash Edgerton

I really love this short 9 minute film. Please beware as it will keep you on your toes or grabbing your seat! It’s premise is “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.” Directed by Nash Edgerton, written by David Michod and Nash Edgerton, soundtrack by Ben Lee, and funded by Qoob. It was shot in Sydney; starring Nash himself (as Jack) and rising star of the Australian film scene Mirrah Foulkes (as Jill).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I Want a Dvorak Keyboard

The QWERTY keyboard was patented in 1874 and was developed specifically to be used with mechanical typewriters and one of the primary objectives of the key placement was to avoid the mechanical typebars from clashing together and jamming (those old enough to remember these typewriters will know exactly what happens).

These days no such risk exists but most of us persist in using the 19th century QWERTY keyboards.

The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard is a keyboard layout patented in 1936 by August Dvorak and was designed specifically to be easy and efficient to operate.

I am told that after quite a short period of time the Dvorak keyboard is easy to get use to and can quicky increase typing speed by near to 50%. I am going to have to get me one of those!

Thanks to Alex Manchester & Michael Sampson for alerting me to the benefits of the Dvorak Keyboard. You can find out more about the Dvorak Keyboard here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Clever solutions for those who don't use chopsticks

I adore all Asian food. Sushi, Noodles, Thai, Teppanyaki, too many favorites to mention, and over the years I have become very comfortable using chopsticks.

There are many of my friends and relatives who struggle with them and much rather the western style eating implements. The below solutions help cater for all with clever thinking and simple design.
The break apart solution, simple but very clever thinking.

Silver fork attachment looks quite elegant as part of the table setting.

This item was discovered via an RSS feed from Doornob. If you love interesting and new designs of many varied types you should check out the Doornob feed for a few weeks.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Intranet Easter Egg Hunt

I recently completed a revamp of one of our businesses sections on our Intranet. We culled a lot of outdated and superfluous content and drastically reduced the complexity of the navigation. After about 3 months worth of work we released the new section. Our standard communication methods were used to spread the word. These include a carefully drafted news item that displays on the Intranets front page, a banner add that also displays on the front page and an email message to everyone in the business unit from their General Manager which congratulated the project team and urged staff to visit the new section.

The revamped site was released on 6 March 2009 and usage statistics indicate that over the first 20 days visits the new homepage increased by 203% over the same period the previous month.

The project team wanted to follow up the initial launch with a competition specifically designed to not only maintain a high visitor rate but also to encourage users to navigate through the entire site, the Intranet Easter Egg Hunt.

How it worked
An image of an Easter Egg (60 x 60 pixels) was placed on 6 pages throughout the new site. There are 30 pages in total and the pages containing egg images were selected because they were considered key pieces of content.

An example of how the egg images were placed.

I created a html entry form that allowed users to submit their entries via the intranet. The online form allowed us to capture user ID and location of all those submitting an entry. This also allowed us to limit entries to one per user.

The prize on offer was a Cadbury Chocolate Egg & Bunny Hamper at a cost of < $100 AUD and the winner was to be drawn from all correct entries received by the competition close date.
The competition was launched via an Intranet news item on the 26th March 2009 and was set to run till Saturday April 4th, a total of 10 days.

The Results
User statistics over the 10 day competition period showed 362 visits to the sites homepage. This is an interesting statistic when compared to the actual number of entries we received. Were the additional users still interested in viewing the recent changes to the section? Have they found something of use or interest? Hopefully yes but time will tell.

Another very interesting statistic discovered was that the average number of visits to the pages that contained Easter Egg images over the competition period was 430. This is around 18% higher that the visits to the home page. I can only surmise that some crafty employees upon finding the location of an egg were emailing the links directly to colleagues. These people could then go directly to the egg location and bypass the homepage.

All in all the launch of the sub site redesign combined with the running of the Easter Egg Hunt competition was shown statistically to be a success. The Business Units Intranet presence was pushed to the top of the monthly ‘Most Popular Homepage’ list and the total number of unique visitors to the Homepage for the month soared to 858 as compared to 235 for the previous month.

The challenge now is for those responsible for maintaining the sub site to try and maintain its high ranking and as most of you Intranet Managers will know is not an easy task.

I have to conclude with the obvious pun that our Intranet Easter Egg Hunt was an Eggcellent idea.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Italian Car Envy

I came into the office the other evening and saw a car in our garage that I have never seen before. Turns out it belongs to an executive from a different company who uses some of our office space for his company. I enviously checked out the vehicle and discovered it was a Maserati GranTurismo. Why are these Italian cars so desirable? I have no idea but I know I would absolutely love one. Such a classic sports car look. Reminiscent of the classic E-Type Jag of the 60's (my uncle has a 1962 V12 E-Type that I have drooled over for many years).

The GranTurismo has a price tag of $298,800 Australian Dollars. While this seems good value compared to the Ferrari 599 GTB at $650,000 I can not in all honesty see me driving round in a sparkling Maserati in this lifetime. I can still dream though.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Computing Utopia of the Future

This video shows what Microsoft thinks the future will look like. Microsoft's Business Division President, Stephen Elop, recently presented that vision as part of this year's TechFest. In the video below you can get a glimpse of a personal identification device that could replace your wallet, lots of Microsoft Surface action extending from tables to walls. Is this computing utopia?

&amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-GB&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:a517b260-bb6b-48b9-87ac-8e2743a28ec5&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;showPlaylist=true&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;from=shared" target="_new" title="Future Vision Montage"&amp;amp;amp;gt;Video: Future Vision Montage&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt;

I stumbled across this video on the fantastic Engadget site. I highly recommend subscribing to this feed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Nike Principle 'Just Do It'

I have just completed a small modification to the way some of the information on our Intranet is accessed. To ensure that communication and consultation to all business was maintained during the scoping and decision making process, I assembled a group or representative from each business unit and department across the group. Each time a change was proposed, these representatives went back to the business leaders requesting feedback which they would then bring back to the table to be incorporated.

After three months of back and forth communications and consultation the changes were agreed and implemented.

Oh, I forgot to mention, there were a handful of department heads who never provided comment for feedback during the entire process.

Changes go live and guess who were the first to raise issues about how they were not happy with the outcome? Their information is not visible enough or it is not accessed the way they want and they would like to get some changes made.

Now this is not the first time this has happened and I know it wont be the last. I am sure that many reading this post will have had the same or similar experiences.

I am starting to believe that a better way of doing this kind of work might be to 'Just Do It' using best practices, rules of thumb and good intentions and then wait for the valuable feedback and advise to pour in. The process might be way different but the outcomes will be the same.

Do I sound bitter and cynical? I bet some of you project managers and project methodology experts are shaking your heads disapprovingly. Truth be known, I will never make major changes to any navigational or functionality facets of my site without first trying to gain feedback from all interested parties. But jeez louise its frustrating.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dilbert made me Laugh Out Loud

I read Dilbert daily and usually get a little smile at the apathy of staff and ruthlessness of the development and marketing departments but this one did make me LOL.

Rules of Social Media???

I am fascinated by the way Twitter is constantly evolving. Since its beginning in March 2006 this micro blogging service has developed its own etiquette and language all generated by its users. Its direction and how people are using it were never imagined by its original developers. A very interesting New York Times article 'Twitter? It's What You Make It' explains this and is well worth a read.

One thing that strikes me with all new and emerging social media tools is that rules of use evolve which the majority seem to follow. But then someone comes along, breaks the rules, and either makes a fortune or just makes a difference through their nonconformist ways.

The catalyst for this posting came from a blog entry I read this morning on Mashable '5 People Who Broke the Rules of Social Media and Succeeded' again, well worth a read if you are interested in the phenomenon that is social media.

BTW, Mashable is a fantastic source of the latest news, views and ideas in the world of social media. It has an RSS feed available that I highly recommend.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bold directions in marketing on social networks

Masterfoods this week released a bold strategy of using social networking sites to become the forefront of their marketing. They first tested the water using Twitter as the homepage of their Skittles brand however did not seem to enjoy the tasteless comments some tweeters found humorous. The homepage of Skittles now sits on a Facebook fan page and time will tell whether users of this media channel will be more restrained.

Bound to cause much discussion, this new direction my be the way of the future where control over brand and comment is left solely to users.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is It Really Worth The Risk?

My son and I were last night pondering the crisis we are currently experiencing across Australia. Massive floods in Queensland with some areas under 12 metres of water. Devastating fires and loss of life in Victoria. Extreme temperatures (44 Degreed C or 111 Degrees F) in NSW and Victoria. Today in Sydney it is raining and mild. Very strange weather. How much proof of climate change do we need before those in power make the decisions needed to address the problem?

I then watched a wonderful Australian Story 'The Heat Of The Moment' about Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg who has been trying to flag the plight of a dying Barrier Reef due to coral bleaching caused by rising water temperatures. He has been trying to flag this problem for over 10 years. Still today there are so called experts claiming that this is a natural cycle and people like Professor Hoegh-Guldberg are alarmists. I found myself getting very angry at the arrogance of the then Minister for the Environment, Senator Robert Hill who left a conference on the risks to the reef dismissing the claims as alarmist overreaction.

I remember seeing the simple whiteboard presentation below last year. Using the premise "What is the worst that could happen" it compares the risks we face from doing nothing about climate change versus those we face by taking action (even if the global warming claims are wrong).

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg's studies indicate that we could lose the entire Great Barrier Reef within the next 20 to 30 years. Is that possibility really worth the risk?
Australia is a relatively small contributor to CO2 emissions on a global scale but that is no reason to not take action. A glimmer of hope has been flagged this year with the election of the new President of the United States, Barack Obama when he committed to "roll back the spectre of a warming planet," in his in his inauguration speech.

Lets hope that the Australian Government follows the US in the fight against global warming as enthusiastically as we followed them in the fight against Saddam.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to host a presentation in our office by Michael Sampson the author of a fantastic book Seamless Teamwork. This book is an invaluable guide for business teams on how to use SharePoint effectively. The presentation focussed on the 'out of the box' functions and how to use the collaboration tools to better run projects with teams that are seldom in the same office, state or even country. There is an overwhelming number of tools and techniques available in the 2007 version of this Microsoft product that have the potential to revolutionise the way we work and run projects and I found Michaels plain English explanation of the methodology informative and easy to understand.

Throughout the presentation I could not help but think about some of the set in their ways almost luddite managers I have worked with in the past and what a daunting task it would be to persuade an entire organisation to change the way they work.

A fantastic example of people who feel they do not need to learn new technologies happened in my company about 6 years ago.

"An Executive Manager was working late one evening when only himself and another Executive were in the building. Exec number one wanted to print out a few emails so he could take them home with him ( this was well before the days when most of us had home access and PDA's). He had never had to print anything before as his EA usually performed tasks of that kind for him. Between the two company leaders neither could work out how to print the content of the screen. Then one came up with the idea that if they could drag the photocopier closer to the desk, then they could lift the PC monitor onto the copiers scanning surface and photocopy the screen. The result was a very poor quality yet still readable copy of the screens content."

Now I am sure that if someone had shown these guys how simple it is to use the print facility available within most applications they would not have had to resort to this ingenious solution. The fact remains though that neither had felt they needed to learn about the tools they had because the way they worked in the past was fine for them and they saw now reason to change.

From my past experience, persuading employees to learn new technology and embrace a new way of working is one of the most difficult facets of change management and is a challenge many of us have struggled with in the past. If anyone out there has a simple and effective solution to overcome this problem please let me know and we will put it in a box and make a fortune.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Perfect Union

This video was created a year ago but seems quite poignant given the hope and energy being generated by the new President of the United States of America. This creative work spells out the preamble to the United States Constitution with forty friends in a high school gym in New York City.

Created by Andrew Sloat, Music by Roland Slatterwhite

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Photos in the Intranet phonebook.

My company is spread over 4 states of Australia and many of us travel regularly to the different sites. A common problem we all face is that we can deal with so many people across the organisation via phone and email without ever meeting them face to face. I have personally experienced the embarrassment of visiting a different site for a meeting with someone I have dealt with for some time and walking past that person many times prior to the meeting without realising that they were who I was there to see. Putting photos in our corporate phonebook will allow us to see what our colleagues look like prior to meeting them. It also adds a personal feel to everyone so that we can picture their face when phoning or emailing.

My biggest challenge in this organisation of over 11,500 employees is "how do we start?". Technically it is easy to allow an image to be linked to individuals profiles but obtaining the image is the challenge.

So far I am toying with a few options however each has its pros and cons.

  1. Use the security photos that we each have on our passes.
    Everyone in the organisation has a security photo taken when the commence employment with us however many of these images were taken years ago, they are often very poor quality images and usually very unflattering.
  2. Start with a single generic image for each person and allow them to upload the image of their choice.
    People will usually be happy with the image they have uploaded themselves however there is no physical way to ensure that the image is current, appropriate (not lewd) or an actual photo of themselves (not their pet, their child or a cartoon etc).
    This option could be backed up by corporate guidelines and policy however might require a task of manually checking each image uploaded and even then it is difficult to confirm that an image is of an individual you have never met.
  3. Submission of individual images to a central location so they can be checked and then uploaded by an administrator.
    This option would require a lot of manual effort for someone and also require broad and prolonged promotion to ensure every employee provides a suitable image. There is also the problem that some people still do not have digital cameras or digital images of themselves

There are many other possible options including combinations of the ones mentioned above. My largest hurdle is initial implementation and image population. Moving forward I would include a step in the induction process of all new employees where a quality image is taken and then the HR representative could upload the image as part of the normal commencement process. I estimate that we could initially count on most of our 2500 nine to five office employees to load their images without too much hassle. The additional challenge would be for the other 9,000 employees who are hospitality workers on rotating 24hr shifts and only kiosk access to the Intranet.

Spelling out my options and many of the problems above makes me realise that this task is going to be a lot more difficult than I initially assumed.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

100 Fabulous iPhone Wallpapers

I came across this site containing 100 wonderful images for use as iPhone backgrounds via a tweet from Guy Kawasaki . I have included a few examples below but you can check out the full 100 at www.smashingmagazine.com .

Monday, January 5, 2009

Wonderful Sand Sculptures

I love sand sculptures. It never ceases to amaze me that people can create such intricate sculptures out of sand. My feeble efforts to make anything in the sand end in a crumbling mess.

Some examples from elLfhouSE 08.