Our partner Wizdom holds an annual two day Conference conference focused on delivering premium insights into the Digital Workplace and our Wizdom solution for digital professionals at all levels around the world. Discover all about the Digital Workplace and what value it offers your business.
Set in renowned Tivoli Gardens in the heart of springtime Copenhagen, this international conference offers defining keynotes from industry and thought leaders within the Digital Workplace backed by Wizdom enterprise cases relating real world challenges and solutions.
The latest trends, technology advances and Wizdom solution news within the Digital Workplace serve as icing on the cake adding to the key takeaways from this Must-attend Wizdom conference.
More information on the Wizdom Conference website
Im going to tell to you about a recent project we ran with a customer, but Id like to start with a storyâ€¦
Its late at night and a policeman is doing his rounds walking along a quiet street next to the park. Up ahead he can see a streetlamp, and as he approaches he can see there is a man directly under it, scrabbling around on the floor.
Good evening, Sir he says as he approaches
Is something the matter?
Yes, I lost my house keys and I cant find them says the man, frantically, as he continues to scan the pavement
Feeling a sense of duty, the policeman joins the hunt, but after a few minutes – when there is still no sign of the keys he asks, Are you sure that you lost them here, Sir?
No, I dropped them somewhere in the park, says the man
Then, why are we looking for them here?
Because the light is much better here, he explains, pointing at the streetlamp
That streetlamp is your intranet search. Theres a huge area containing all your business knowledge, but your intranet allows you to search in only a small part of it.
And to be honest, your intranet search is probably less like a streetlamp and more like a candle.
And, unlike the man in our story, your users often dont know that they are searching in a little defined area. They expect to be able to find anything. And they get frustrated.
One of these dark areas where your intranet search cant look is email lots of knowledge lives there and is only visible to those people in copy or in the chain. But, there are new tools emerging that have a similar problem. One of these tools that is becoming popular at the moment is Microsoft Teams.
Basically, Teams is an Office 365 app that allows you to be a part of different groups or teams, where each team has different members, a feed for conversations, an area for shared documents, and options to add other shared elements like notes, or plans.
Now actually Teams is a rather neat app. Personally, I love it and in our company we use it every day. Its a great tool, but it has some limitations. However, these limitations can be overcome by clever integration with a Wizdom intranet.
To illustrate what I mean by that, Id like to tell to you about a recent project we delivered for a customer
Our customer is an agency that helps other companies to innovate. They work with a lot of large companies and often have a lot of active projects for each client. With different teams of people working on different projects.
So, if they work in their little silos – theres a high chance that they will be re-inventing the wheel all over the place.
They recently moved to Office 365, and they quickly adopted MS Teams as their collaboration platform of choice
And its great. When they are working on projects, everyone gets visibility of whats going on they can access files from anywhere and so on. But, on these projects they are creating knowledge and assets that could be re-used or re-purposed for other similar projects. Maybe for other clients.
They are carrying out research, creating templates and even designing whole programmes of work.
And a lot of people who would benefit from this stuff dont see it. Theyd have to be a member of every Team that exists. And that would be overwhelming.
And thats where the intranet comes in. They need to give their people the helicopter view, and allow them to drill down and access those re-usable insights, templates, or programmes of work.
They use Wizdom as their intranet making use of many of the great features that Dan mentioned.
But also, we built them a custom Wizdom module for Teams integration that does a few things:
The homepage of the intranet is the default page whenever I open by web browser. And the intranet knows who I am, and shows me a personalised list containing the Teams that I am a member of. So, I can quickly click into any of these.
Theres a list of clients on the intranet, and if I click on a client I get a page that contains details about the client including the active projects.
Each project is basically a team within Microsoft Teams.
So, I can click an active project. If Im a member of the Team then it opens up. If not, Im prompted to request access to this Team.
Next to active teams, if I have the necessary permissions, I can see a decommission button.
If the project has finished and the Team is no longer active, then I just need to click this and I am taken to the decommission form.
I add a few details about the project here – and then I hit the OK button.
What then happens, behind the scenes, is this:
- The Team files are stored in SharePoint and tagged with the information I added on the form
- The Team is removed from MS Teams
- The Team is moved to the archived projects list on the client page
- A new page for the project is created in the Wizdom intranet
And this is the new interface for that project in the client area
4. And finallyâ€¦
Not only do we have the files from the project neatly stored on a project page, within the client area, but also we have some other search tools in the intranet that allow us to find useful content across all the archived projects
One example is the biz dev assets search: This is a tool for people working on business development writing proposals and running pitches to win new clients. It allows them to quickly find assets from previous projects that they can re-use or re-purpose. Saving them a lot of time and making their pitches more compelling and well-informed.
What made all this possible?
Wizdom comes with over 50 features or modules, but it also supports the creation of your own custom modules. These can interact directly with existing Wizdom or Office 365 features, like Teams.
You can use the out-of-the-box features to meet 90% of your requirements and then add custom modules to meet the remaining 10%. And if you have an inhouse development team you could create these modules yourself. If you dont have one then we can help, of course!
So, thats how we made the intranet search more powerful. Shining a light on knowledge that was previously left in the dark.
And I encourage to you all to think about how you can do the same on your intranet.
“At Wizdom we focus a lot on telling potential customers, independent analysts and other stakeholders, how we regularly and frequently release new versions of Wizdom. The reason we do this is that we believe that regular and frequent releases directly illustrate maturity of the vendor.”
Over the past 18 months a lot of new Intranet software vendors have surfaced. This is great and illustrates the need for these types of products in a market where Wizdom has been present for more than 6 years. However, the majority of discussions and analysis by organizations looking to implement an Intranet product and vendor, is centered around looking at product features the How can our product help you because these are easy to see and evaluate.
But the maturity of a vendor is much harder to see, and maturity is even more important than features. This is because the customer is trusting the vendor with their future solution, not just now, but also in the future. They are trusting the vendor to make sure that the product and thus the customers solution is continually evolving to meet new demands from the customers users as the world and the organization moves forward. And if the vendor does not have the maturity to make it in the tough competitive market space, the customer is left with a dead solution, which they cannot maintain themselves and the vendor cannot or will not either.
So ok, vendor maturity is really important, but why do we believe that frequent releases are clear sign of vendor maturity?
Firstly, every new release indicates a reflection by the vendor based on customer feedback and market trends. So frequent releases mean that not only does the vendor reflect, learn and adjust rapidly, but the vendor is also committed to listening, analyzing and learning from their customers feedback and the market trends.
Secondly, it takes time and effort to adjust a product and to package and support a new release. So, making regular frequent releases is basically the vendor putting their money where their mouth is or as we in Wizdom would say The proof is in the pudding. Reversely an immature vendor can fairly easily patch together a product that looks good on the surface and provides relevant features, but will be hard pressed to come up with the frequent releases that make sure that the value is also obtained when the product meets real world scenarios and needs of customers.
And finally, former President of the Microsoft Windows Division, Steven Sinofsky named his blog Learning by Shipping. This is an extremely apt concept and another reason why every software release increases maturity. You learn a little from building new features in a release. You learn a lot every time you ship the release. So, a vendor that does frequent releases is learning more and faster than a vendor that does not.
A good intranet focuses on helping employees get things done and save time. This in turn drives efficiency across different activities, helping drive employees own individual productivity, and ultimately that of organisations.
Productivity is all about producing output in more efficient and effective ways. Intranets contribute to productivity in different ways, including:
- Improving the efficiency of processes
- Saving time so employees can make better use of their working day
- Equipping employees and teams with knowledge to be more productive
- Facilitating collaboration between employees
- Reducing use of inefficient email.
Although it is difficult to measure and even harder to prove, eventually a good intranet should pay for itself in terms of the benefits it provides. Lets look in more details at some of the ways intranets can help increase productivity.
Help employees find things
Over the years original research from IDC has been used by McKinsey and others to show that some employees can spend as much as a fifth of their working time searching for information. Much of those wasted hours are spent trawling through emails, browsing sprawling file directories or asking time-pressured colleagues questions.
By centralising the key information and documents that employees really need, for example in a centralised policy library or within different communities, an intranet can save employees so much time. A powerful search and user-centred navigation will also help employees find what they need. Employees can also have the confidence that they are looking at the latest version of a document and that there is one source of truth, again cutting down search time.
Drive employee self-service
Employee self-service means that employees can carry out tasks, complete simple transactions, answer questions or solve problems themselves without having to ask another individual to help. This approach takes enormous pressure off HR functions, IT departments and other support functions, and can drive productivity by allowing these specialists to focus their time on more value-add activities. Self-service also means individual employees also learn to do things in the most efficient way.
Intranets drive employee self-service by allowing employees to:
- carry out transactions themselves through integration with other systems, for example booking annual leave
- linking to different systems (e.g. travel booking) in an easy, straightforward way
- including key how to information and FAQs to allow employees to work through processes and issues themselves.
Connect employees and drive collaboration
Intranets are fantastic at reducing silos in organisations, creating connections, facilitating communities and driving collaboration between individuals and teams. Connecting people allows individuals to:
- get answers to questions from experts
- assemble the right teams
- reduces the chance of duplication of effort
- communicate more quickly in a more efficient way than email
- effectively co-ordinate processes
- and act in many other ways which increase productivity and efficiency!
Improve specific processes
There are usually a whole set of specific apps and tools on the intranet which can really help improve specific process including employee onboarding, managing projects, managing events, supporting the IT helpdesk, completing forms with workflow and so on. Wizdoms intranet is particularly strong this area as it is packed with apps, tools and cool features which help employees be more productive.
Engage employees and make them more productive
We know that intranets help to engage employees. Arguably happier employees are more productive and some analysis has suggested that this is the case, although more research is needed to firmly establish the link between engagement and productivity.
Bringing the right content together
Intranets are excellent at bringing disparate content, data and knowledge from different systems or different teams together in ways which can help teams be more productive. For example, you may need to know all about a key client having all the salient information in one place not only saves time on gathering the information but also gives you a 360-degree view on that client, helping to determine more efficient and effective decision-making.
Drive flexible working
A great intranet, especially if it is cloud-based and optimised for mobile devices, should be available anywhere and at any time. This helps support flexible working and choice for employees, and allows for a better balance between work and life.
It can also mean far greater productivity for individuals who prefer to work from home with less interruptions or even for an entire office when bad weather disrupts the journey to work. The ability to work remotely and its impact is sometimes a contentious issue. However, for some types of work, and in some circumstances, it can absolutely help people get more work done.
Establish the digital workplace
Intranets act as the standard point of entry into numerous systems and applications – the front door to the digital workplace. This helps drive productivity, not only because its efficient and convenient for employees to access everything in one place, but it also drives awareness and use of the very tools which drive efficiency. In a SharePoint-based intranet like Wizdom, which can be tightly integrated with Office 365 , the ability to also drive use of tools like Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business through the intranet has enormous value.
Drive digital literacy and mindset
Both enabling flexible working and establishing the digital workplace also encourages employees to get used to new ways of working. Not only do they get acquainted with how to use new digital tools but they are usually more open to using them in the future. That increase in digital literacy and the associated mindset can increase your organisations ability to drive adoption of future digital tools, in turn helping to increase productivity and further digital transformation.
Employee ideas and input are a fantastic source of knowledge for improving productivity. For example, frontline workers can often give highly practical insights into how to service customers better. One small genius idea can have a massive impact. Your intranet and related tools can be used to help gather ideas and related input on employee insights.
Extend digital services to all
An overlooked aspect of intranets is that they are usually available for all employees. This means that many of the above approaches which do help to drive efficiency are amplified because more employees can carry them out. For example, the more employees carry out transactions via self-service, the more productivity gains are achieved.
Intranets drive efficiency and productivity
Intranets contribute to productivity in multiple ways and its always worth being aware of the potential contribution they can make. You can use this articles list of ways they help as an argument for an intranet business case, as a basis for your measurement for success or as a checklist to prioritise future actions. Whatever you do make sure your intranet is really helping employees become more productive.