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March 8, 2016 |  Posted in: Thought Leadership

Creating an innovative Intranet that enables staff to do their best work

One in four CEO's wakes up sleep deprived. So what's keeping them up at night? It's their people. They're burdened with how to motivate teams, how to retain their high-performing talent and how to lure the new breed of knowledge workers. If this isn't enough to occupy your headspace, CEO’s are also faced with traversing the 3 biggest trends that are impacting business today.

The consumerization of technology within the Enterprise
IOT, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Collaboration, Cloud and more. These aren't merely trends, but will all continue to heavily influence how businesses compete and remain relevant in the near future.

The Y & Z Generation
These tech savvy interconnected individuals are filling out the floors and cubicles of every major organization on Earth. Their attitudes towards the future of work are permeating every corner of the enterprise. Their open expectations towards collaboration, sharing and possessing a mobile-first view of the world are redefining how organizations are setup to allow this new breed of knowledge worker to perform and deliver.

A few years ago, you’d go across town to work with the local supplier. Now you’re prepared to go across the world to source a particular product or service. The commoditization of products and services is lowering the barrier to entry, and the automation of content marketing platforms is enabling anyone to setup shop and connect with customers anywhere.

As an executive, you not only have to win the hearts and minds of your customers, but you first have to win the hearts and minds of your employees and partners. It's clear the average C-suite needs to act now in order to thrive. This takes courageous leadership, and having clear strategies to implement that will deliver returns.

We've considered research from Deloitte and and amalgamated this with our own experiences in working with many enterprises, and following is our view on the key components that the modern digital worker expects from their collaboration tools.

The following three strategies for Intranet and Team Collaboration will drive engagement, productivity, and provide your team with a platform to enable them to do their best work for you.

If work was a person then you could say that Mrs Work had a midlife crisis and parted ways with Mr Office. She's run off for a better life and is free from the constraints of four bland walls, bad carpet and the nine to five grind. Mrs Work has hooked up with Mr Open and Go and she couldn't be happier. Fortune 1000 companies know it. Globally they are redesigning their traditional office spaces to accommodate a mixture of mobile worker and free agent. Repeated studies show that the average employee is not at their desk 50-60% of the time. More of us are working on the go. Innovative software companies will continue to accommodate the growing needs of the 'On the Go' workforce. These people will demand a natural and effortless experience to quickly achieve their work tasks and communicate efficiently no matter where they are. So what tools currently deliver this? Intranets or collaboration tools attempt to solve part of this challenge, but incumbent platforms don't go far enough. And this is to be expected when you consider the mobile work revolution is barely ten years old. Information delivered to mobile workers need to meet three basic criteria of value:

  • Be obvious. Don't make me think, I don't want to labor over this.
  • Be relevant. Deliver the right information I need to get this task done.
  • Be immediate. Arm me with the right information so I can make time-sensitive decisions.

Article Item - Mobile-first experience.

According to Nielsen Norman Group the average session duration on mobile is 72 seconds. When you consider the window of opportunity being just over a minute, the information delivered to mobile works needs to be obvious and relevant. The most succinct way of delivering this information is not through a mobile web browser, but through a dedicated collaboration app. A native app has to provide your team with these capabilities:

  • Collaborate and organise work to be done with colleagues or partners through instant messaging, and provide the ability to view and prioritize activities to be undertaken.
  • Enable your team to make quick decisions based on the app intelligently aggregating content and data based on the users role, responsibilities, location and previous usage patterns. The app also presents the most useful resources on a day-to-day basis that assist users with the tasks they need to complete. As an example, a Retail Manager is on the road visiting store locations. They tap on the app and are presented with data about the store they are visiting with the ability to view sales performance reports, view current promotions, view who are the members of the local store team, etc.
  • If your team members need to seek information outside their sphere of understanding, they can perform a search and discover content across conversations between other team members. Leveraging search, team members can discover similar queries or comments raised by others and instant message these team members via the app to clarify or confirm their understanding of a problem they are attempting to solve.

Mobile Intranets will evolve beyond just delivering a mobile view of the desktop Intranet, they need to deliver ‘just in time’ personalised content based on who the individual is within the organization. Dedicated Intranet apps will enable mobile workers to mine content, conversations and connections and package tailored content experiences that are aligned to how your mobile work force gets work done. 

Employees often have biased views of the business they work in as they often view it through the lens of their own department. To deliver a more transparent and connected employee experience, video cuts through like no other medium. Video has the power to transform views and amplify perception about the organization’s challenges, opportunities and goals and how they directly contribute to and influence all of these aspects and according to the Visual Teaching Alliance, here’s why:

  • The brain can see images that last for just 13 milliseconds
  • Our eyes can register 36,000 visual messages per hour
  • We can get the sense of a visual scene in less than 1/10 of a second
  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
  • Visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text
  • 40 percent of nerve fibers are linked to the retina

Managers especially should look to video as a way to coach and mentor staff on their vision, strategy and thinking on improving and succeeding. Video should also be accompanied by a mechanism to allow feedback. Supporting functions like anonymous voting, e.g. down vote, like or select from an emoji. Along with commenting, these engagement functions give employees the ability to personalise their engagement and encourage community within the organization.

Three key principles for creating engaging video for work are:

  • They have to change often
  • They have to be short; no more than 1-2 minutes
  • They should be simple to create and authentic - captured on a smart phone e.g. a new store opening, a conference you’re attending and your feedback about being at the event, etc. They have to be authentic and not contrived

The process of uploading a video to your intranet should be simple. Either through a few clicks, or through dragging and dropping the video directly from your desktop to the web browser, your video should be able to appear on any page within the intranet quickly. It's time to share your organizational stories and highlighting how the team can be working more collaboratively.

The term social within the enterprise is a relatively new concept, and one that many organizations are unclear about in terms of identifiable strategies and solutions. By default most Intranet platforms lack social tools and do not support an integrated social experience for staff. While vendors have accelerated their plans for bringing social collaboration to their applications, this has largely resulted in ‘add on’ products that are still not core to the incumbent Intranet platform.

Enterprise Social Networks (ESN’s) enable organization’s to provide a platform for managing conversations occurring across the enterprise. While Intranet’s are typically vertical silos of static content, ESN’s are horizontal, democratic environments designed to foster discussion and engagement between people. In a 2014 report by Frost & Sullivan titled Enterprises Harness Social Networking for Increased Agility and Responsiveness the report identified that subscribers for ESN solutions had reached more than 200 million users and this was expected to increase to more than 500 million users by 2018, and unlike their free consumer focussed social software cousins, nearly ninety percent of ESN users were paid subscribers.

As the future of work is increasingly about distributed teams of free agents, the need for innovative intranets that connect people across mobile, video and social will enable complex business requirements to be realised and delivered.

March 8, 2016 |  Posted in: Thought Leadership
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