Tag Archives: colaboration

Collaboration for competitive advantage

As many organisations are rolling out enterprise platforms with social media tools like SharePoint 2010 or Spigit Innovation software, they need to look at their ability to optimise collaboration to unlock the power within their knowledge workers.

Collaboration is working together to achieve a goal. Many organisations who are exploring the use of social media tools seem to regard collaboration as limited to comments, votes and “likes”. Rather, it needs to be a coordinated effort to reach stated goals.

Collaboration is a repetitive process where people and/or organisations work together to realise shared goals. These goals could be the deployment of a project, development of an innovation or putting together a proposal. This is a deep, collective, determination to reach an identical objective.

Organisations need to look at their collaboration processes, who should be involved, what the goals are and what information people need in order to ensure that they get the best results.

Up until now we haven’t had the wherewithal to collaborate at scale. Time and geography have often impeded robust collaboration. With the advent of social media and increased quality of data and enterprise technology with social media capabilities, we now have the ability to maximise the collective brain power of our employees.

There are a number of considerations when we embark on collaboration in large enterprises:

– What is the goal we intend to achieve?

– Who is going to lead the collaboration initiative?

– What are the impediments to collaboration? These could include

Access to information and knowledge

Culture and siloed thinking

Anti-collaborative processes, such as corporate governance or policies

– What are the tools we need for collaboration?

Do we need real world space, like boardrooms?

Will other social media tools, like IM, likes, ranks and posts enhance collaboration?

Enterprise platforms can push or recommend information to the users based on the project or the user profile or similar information that has been accessed in the past.

What templates can we develop to enhance collaboration

– Which skills and experiences should be co-opted onto collaborative projects? These could include:

Analytical

Project

Decision

Networking and Negotiation

Industry

Technical

Professional etc.

But of course collaboration is not a panacea for improving how organisations function. Many processes and job functions are repetitive and transactional and require no collaboration at all. Rather, collaborative behaviour will impede the smooth functioning of the organisation. However, it is clear that teams that work collaboratively obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources.

It is time that organisations started exercising the collaborative muscle to take on the ever changing market.

Hansen, Morten T “Collaboration” 2009 Harvard Business Press

McKinseys

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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3 Comments

Filed under Business, Collaboration, Crowdsourcing, Digital Communities, Enterprise 2.0, Innovation

Gaining executive commitment to interactive intranets

Are you finding it difficult to get the executives in your organisation to buy into the need to use social media tools in your Intranet? We find that the business case is a good way to achieve this.

In many of our clients’ organisations, the Intranet is little more than the place I go to, to see the lunch menu or get my leave forms.

It’s no wonder then that executives don’t realise how powerful it could be. The advent of social media is all too often seen to be time wasting and a waste of bandwidth.

Microsoft has just released SharePoint 2010 which contains the latest collaborative tools embedded into its content management and sharing tools. Social media is going to become the norm in large corporates. Companies are migrating to this platform or looking at other collaboration tools to enhance performance in the organisation. The challenge now is to get the full potential of social media on the executive agenda.

We have found the business case an effective way to get executive attention.

A business case clarifies the value of any opportunity. It is the single-most important document in gaining commitment to the strategic interactive intranet or any other opportunity.

A business case is part sales and part marketing. It represents the opportunity to present a compelling justification for funding an investment to achieve the organisations mission, goals and objectives. An effective business case generates the support, participation and leadership commitment required to transform an idea into reality. A business case identifies an opportunity. It provides context and content and describes the desired objectives and outcomes in terms of the business. It describes how and who will be affected. The how and who typically evolve around individual or organisation behavioural changes.

The business case will breakout specific alternatives and their associated impacts. A strong business case for an intranet investment puts that investment decision into the strategic context and provides the executives with the necessary information to make an educated decision.

Putting a business case together for the interactive intranet

Interaction between employees is not new, but for the first time, the ability to interact online through the Intranet is becoming a reality. This is going to have a significant effect on the way we do business. In the same way as eMail changed the speed at which business is conducted the Intranet is going to become he strategic backbone of the organisation and is going to significantly impact on our effectiveness efficiency and the way we do business. But we have very little historical evidence and case studies which have quantified the improvement brought about by this interactivity.

Traditionally, innovation occurs in products, processes or business models. The latest thinking has been well researched by Gary Hamel in his work The Future of Management. The modern Intranet is not only a new tool, but it also enables new ways to manage people. For this reason, we cannot use the past to forecast the future. Our best attempts to make a case for an interactive Intranet are going to have to be around describing the intangible business “steroids” on the Balanced Scorecard as defined by Kaplan and Norton , which lead to business improvements.

You need to put a business case together in order to justify the resources and capital investment necessary to create an Interactive Intranet.

The Business Case is usually primarily a financial document, however in the case of using SharePoint 2010 (or any other web 2.0 enabled CMS software) in order to create a robust Interactive Intranet, the software and concept is so new that there is very little evidence of what differences these new tools can make and there are so many hard and soft permutations that it is difficult to quantify the financial implications. We therefore have to modify our approach to developing the business case to looking at those variables which, if enhanced using SharePoint 2010’s capabilities, will deliver on the organisation’s business objectives.

We find that the best approach is to:

  • Understand the organisational objectives and identify where the interactive Intranet could support delivery;
  • Analyse the internal variables (culture, competence and processes) at a high level, which could influence the successful attainment for the business objectives;
  • Look at what is happening in the competitive landscape;
  • Identify relevant best practise which is enhanced by SharePoint 2010 and can significantly enhance competitive advantage, such as Collaboration , Crowdsourcing and Innovation etc;
  • See where else SharePoint 2010 has made a difference for other Microsoft clients (if our client is migrating to SharePoint 2010), alternatively look for case studies on interactive intranets; and
  • Make recommendations for the prioritisation and roll out of the Intranet optimisation strategy.

We document all the relevant facts and link them together into a cohesive story. This story tells the executives about the what, when, where, how and why.

  • Why is the project needed?
  • How it will solve the issues or opportunities facing the organisation;
  • How the solution addresses the issues or opportunities (benefits);
  • What will happen to the business if the project is not undertaken (the do nothing scenario)?
  • Priorities and timing;
  • An indication of how much money, people and time will be needed to deliver the solution and realise the benefits: and Suggested Metrics for quantifying success.

By documenting everything together in one story, it is easy to link the issues to the solution and the benefits and identify where the organisation would be without the project.

The development of the overall business case also identifies holes or problems with the solution. Moreover, the organisation will have a way to measure its success. This analysis is also be useful for the leadership team to prioritise this project against the many other initiatives that require capital investment.

The business case provides a consistent message to many different audiences. As a high level view of the entire project the business case manages the expectations of all the stakeholder divisions affected by the project (customers, management, operations, research & development, service, sales, accounting, finance, etc.).

The length of the business case should be kept to a minimum, ensuring it stays on topic, presents relevant information in a clear and concise manner and it be focused on supporting management in making decisions.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We write business cases, create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

2 Comments

Filed under Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0

Ten lessons learned from successful intranets

Not all intranets are created equal.

Great intranets increase productivity, knowledge sharing, collaboration, communication and delivery on strategy. Lousy intranets are at best repositories for leave forms, but more dangerously, with the advent of social media and employees’ concomitant expectations from their experiences on the web, they can become bottlenecks and a source of frustration and disengagement.

Here are ten lessons that we have learned from developing Intranet strategies for large corporates.

Hard code the organisational strategy into the intranet

Interactive tools on the intranet enable much more robust interaction between employees and departments. It lets employees do things far more effectively and quickly, including the wrong things…

The organisational strategy needs to be examined in terms of where it is going, how it is configured to get there and the key performance areas in order to support each employ on the intranet.

Profiling

By profiling each employee we can customise the intranet so that they only see what is relevant to them, this reduces information overload and communication fatigue. Profiling also enables us to attach employees to certain projects, track on line behaviour, understand organisational networks, or to search for employees based on their skills and experience and availability.

Process

Processes are the glue within the organisation. The more effective the processes, the more effectively the organisation functions. Buy evaluating which processes are responsible for creating the most competitive advantage and optimising them on the Intranet, you create high performance organisations.

It is important to bear in mind that technology must enable organisations, particularly with new social media functionalities. Organisations shouldn’t be squashed into processes within technologies.

Integration

There are other technologies in the organisation which could be integrated into the Intranet to provide useful data, for example MS Outlook could be integrated into SharePoint 2010 to ensure that only available employees are surfaced when searching for resources across the organisation for projects.

Other technologies which we have found useful to integrate include SAP which supports the organisational processes for servicing customers and SAS data-mining tools.

Have a strong content governance structure

An intranet is only as good as the relevancy and currency of its content. Ensure that roles are defined; owners, authors and approvers are trained; content management functions are built into the job responsibilities; and process champions are identified.

Ensure user adoption

Due to the federated structure of large organisations we recommend that you get inputs from all the different business units and departments during the course of the project.

Several rounds of usability testing should be conducted during the design and development of the intranet.

Road shows, timely communication through emails and web meetings and efficient internal marketing should be conducted throughout the roll out.

Reserve time for beta testing where users from different departments do multiple ‘test drives’ and provide feedback.

Technologies are better adopted when people see the purpose of using them, they are intuitive and when they make the user look and feel good, yet another reason to profile employees and map the digital processes to the way they work in the real world.

More isn’t necessarily better

A portal with a lot of outdated content has very little value.

During the planning stages of content migration, identify which content is outdated or irrelevant. Conduct content identification exercises with your departments using content architectures and migrate or create new content as applicable.

Strong search is important

Search is the most frequently used functionality on any Intranet, be it people search or content search. Provide different ways of searching, but keep it simple. The majority of users like to just key in a keyword, press ‘enter’ and be provided with relevant results.

The intranet should help many people be more productive, using their time to full potential instead of trying to find information for half the time.

If you are using SharePoint 2010 create document libraries which enable information to be created once and updated in one place despite multiple views, that way all the information on the intranet will be kept consistent.

Listen

Listen to what users have to say. Provide multiple avenues for gathering feedback and be open to feedback regardless of how harsh or positive it might be. Listening to the users is the best way of identifying user behavioural patterns and enabling you to keep improving the Intranet.

The intranet isn’t an IT-driven initiative

Many companies think of the intranet as an IT-driven initiative. This isn’t true and should not be the way an intranet is approached.

As the department responsible for improving communication, Corporate Communication is the champion of the communication, the same goes for the role of HR and line management in employee relationships, and operations in process optimisation.

It should be a partnership with IT bringing new ways of using technology to the forefront and enabling the company through tools that support their workflows on the intranet.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

13 Comments

Filed under Business, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets

Three reasons not to block Facebook in corporates

It always amazes me, when dealing with large corporations, how many of them have blocked access to Facebook. I understand this when people are doing boring, repetitive jobs, but I am seeing it in organisations who employ knowledge workers for their innovation, creativity and their relationship building skills.

When I ask them why, there are usually two reasons; bandwidth and productivity.

Too much time spent on Facebook by employees is not a sign that Facebook is bad. It is an indicator of the level of engagement of an employee. If he wasn’t on Facebook, he would be on the phone or playing solitaire anyway. The cure for too much time on Facebook is to engage the employee whether it is through motivation, training, counselling, changing the level of complexity of the work. Switching Facebook off only serves to send the bored employee elsewhere.

The secret to increasing productivity and bandwidth use is to take a strategic approach to Facebook. Here are three reasons why leaving Facebook on could be good for your company:

  • Employees become real people to your clients;
  • Employees learn about personal branding and how to use other social media; and
  • Employees can endorse your brand by association.

Being real people

The lines between our personal and professional lives are blurring. Facebook is enabling everyone to become more approachable and to build accessible personal brands. By capitalising on this, knowledge workers can develop closer more robust relationships with clients. Research shows that when client relationships are rich, clients are likely to be more tolerant if we make mistakes and will allow us to rectify them. Close relationships with clients often leads to advocacy, when clients actively refer us to other clients. They also shorten sales cycles and make sure that we are in the right place at the right time when our clients need our services.

Using social media and building personal brands

Social media is changing the way enterprises work. It is flattening out organisational hierarchies and is fast becoming a way to improve communication, capture knowledge and enable innovation across the business. The quicker employees learn to use social media tools, the more effectively they will adopt and use enterprise 2.0 tools like SharePoint 2010.

Employees who build strong personal brands can cement stronger relationships within the organisation. Enterprises with strong employee relationships experience lower levels of attrition, and will find it easier to attract and keep good people.

Brand endorsement by association

In their private lives, employees are surrounded by people, either digitally or in the real world, that organisations recognise as their target audience. Intelligent and relevant updates on Facebook , keep people top of mind and ensure they are remembered when people are looking for related services.

If our employees have a strong personal brand, the fact that they work for us adds to the organisational brand.

A word of caution

Facebook and employee branding can be an incredibly powerful tool, used properly, but used badly they are very dangerous. Facebook usage must be monitored for abuse or counter branding. This leads to questions of privacy and employees should be aware that if they have access to Facebook at work, we reserve the right to monitor what they are doing.

Conversely

Happy engaged professionals recognise their role in building our enterprises. They don’t only need to be in the marketing department to participate in growing the brand. Employees with strong personal digital brands from all over the organisation, from finance to operations, can contribute by virtue of association.

If you have switched Facebook off in your organisation, you could start switching it on based on the employees’ digital behaviour and personal brands, or as a reward for great performance. Your access levels to Facebook could be used as a status symbol within the enterprise.

The world is changing and enterprises need to change too, especially in the way they engage with employees. Enterprise 2.0 is about people. The focus needs to be on managing people for optimal productivity through committed employee relationships rather than on managing technology. A strategic approach to Facebook is just the beginning.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

7 Comments

Filed under Business, Enterprise 2.0, Facebook, HR Intranet, Web 2.0

Ensuring that employees have the web tools they need to manage an interactive website

The modern website is a critical tool for engaging with and serving customers and other stakeholders. We need to ensure that we equip our employees with the right tools to continue their day to day actions to manage the organisation’s relationships and support the brand.

A website essentially serves three functions:

  • Provide information
  • Automate processes; and
  • Deliver services.

In order to ensure that the right tools are available, we start by looking to the organisational and divisional strategies asking questions like

  • What is the vision and mission?
  • What does the organisation do?
  • How does it do it?/What are the key process?
  • Which competencies and skills do we have?
  • What products and services do we offer?
  • Where are our markets?

Having examined these key areas, we then start to translate the answers into a Digital Strategy, by asking questions like:

  • Where can we enhance these products and services using the web?
  • What processes can be automated?
  • What digital products could we provide?
  • What are customers looking for?
  • Are there any additional markets and geographies that we could serve through the web?
  • How does our brand translate digitally?
  • Which other technologies (Geographical Information Systems, Enterprise Resource Planning Systems etc.) do we have which can enhance our digital offerings?

The we look at what web tools could be created to assist the employees to enhance their work through the web and what do they need to be able to do? For example:

  • If they need to be able to post events to a calendar, should there be various views, by event type, by date, month, day etc.
  • If events must be created, they need to give the date, an expiry date (after which the event won’t be visible in the current view) a title, a description, a date, a venue, key words/tags so that the event can be searched, RSVP, share on social media sites, the ability to synch into the viewers’ Outlook calendar etc.
  • Press releases need headings, introductions, the body of the text, release date, meta-data for searches, downloadable pictures etc.
  • Blogs need a heading, the body, meta data, tag clouds, share on social media sites, defined audiences using key words such as type of audience, geography, interests, profile etc, who can comment. Wiki’s could be similarly designed.

There are many universal tools that can be made available to employees who should be allowed to use them using permission based access.

When enabling employees to interact directly with customers, the same care must be taken as in the real world to make sure that they act in the best interests of the organisation. With the web we suggest that policies and procedures, content architectures and on line brand iconography guidelines be developed.

The core processes need to be mapped or redefined for the web. Examine who requires the automated process (could we use Geographical Information Systems or Profiling to customise his view?), where they will find it (what meta data will help in the search?), where other technologies will be integrated (Where do we get data about an account e.g. SAP?), how do we route queries? Should we use SMS’s or eMails to let the user know how far we are in the process? etc.

The next phase is to review our services. Could we create additional value for our audience by providing digitised products such as templates, calculation tools etc.

The modern website provides endless opportunities to surprise and delight our stakeholders, by giving it some careful thought we can also enable self service and reduce our costs of delivery.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

4 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

Profiling for Effective Enterprise 2.0

To many organisations an Intranet is merely a repository for documents and some kind of informative web interface where news can be published. Unfortunately, this thinking governs how modern Intranets are being designed for the future and limiting their potential value to the organisation.

Despite having access to web 2.0 tools such as wikis or blogs, the teams have not realised that the modern Intranet is an incredibly powerful tool. Often a decree will emanate from the IT or Financial Manager that employees will not be given their own profiles because they will waste all their time socialising.

Employee profiling is what gives the power to the Intranet. These days we employ knowledge workers for their intellectual ability to ensure competitive advantage in a rapidly changing business world. These knowledge workers are required to collaborate and innovate our organisations into the future.

When we profile employees we bring additional abilities to the system and enhance the value of each knowledge worker.

Employee profiling consists of attaching various data to an employee profile which could include name, department, contact details, skills, experience, projects worked on, thought leadership areas etc. depending on your organisational strategy.

These profiles enhance the user experience of the Intranet because we can use the variables to enhance the search functionality based on where the employee fits in the organisation, for example the kind of information a marketer is likely to be looking for is going to be different to what a corporate governance official will need. By profiling the individual, it is possible to filter the search results to suit the employee’s requirements. In the same way we can improve collaboration by matching experiences, positively impact project success rates by identifying skill sets from elsewhere in the organisation.

Employee profiling is also a very effective way of engaging on a personal level with employees because peoples profiles are an extension of their personal brands and by acknowledging their value through a public profile within the organisation, companies can go a long way to growing employee loyalty.

Segmenting employees by functional area, skills, projects, experience, seniority or interests will enable us to communicate in a much more granular way, with the employees having their own customised view of the Intranet based on what they will find relevant and useful. This reduces communication fatigue and the spam of “all at” eMails that are deleted along with the eMails that we want our audience to read.

Assuming your employees profiles are a nice-to-have is very short sighted, employee profiling is critical to the future of your organisation.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

4 Comments

Filed under Business, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Semantics, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

The Role of the Intranet in the Modern Organisation

The Modern Intranet is changing the way that organisations conduct business, providing them with operational support, employee profiling, transparency and collaboration abilities that we have not seen before. As an integral part of how an organisation operates day to day, the Intranet should essentially serve five purposes:

  • Decision Support
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Innovation
  • Learning
  • Employee Engagement

Decision Support

Organisational flux, rising competitive pressures and the expanding global reach of many organisations place a premium on information that helps executives to make the decisions required to manage a company. New demands for transparency from stakeholders and regulators magnify the need for better and more timely information.

The Intranet needs to provide two kinds of decision support;

  • pull support when executives actually go out and look for the information they need in order to make decisions; and
  • push support where the information is pushed to the executive by way of creating awareness, or educating or as an early warning status which requires action.

Pull Support

When people need to make decisions, they need to have access to the latest information, be able to find the most up to date version of the document, relevant reports etc.

Document management used to be the domain of the individual on his own C-drive (and prior to that in his filing cabinet), later documents were posted to share drives in whatever categorisation made most sense to the individual. Gradually project managers started imposing some structure on the share drive and people began using the shared information to inform their decision making.

Today’s business environment has become infinitely more complex and it has become necessary for people, not only to look for what they need based on how they expect the information to be categorised, but to be able to actively search using key words on the Intranet.

It is possible, using the modern Intranet, to enable employees to surface the information they require to make decisions based on a search functionality as well as individual profiling. This means that if one employee is profiled as a “marketer” and another as a “technologist”, when they search for documents and type in the words “networking event February” the marketer will get the latest plan for a breakfast she organised for senior staff members to network with clients, and the techie will get a list of disruptions on the company network during the month of February.

Push Support

Push support is generally in the forms of RSS feeds which are set up in order to ensure that the latest relevant information from outside the organisation is reaching the right executive. This may be economic data, technology development, trends analysis etc.

Push support also includes aggregated information about the company in the form of regularly updated news portals or progress reports etc.

Knowledge Management is also an important part of decision making. All to often companies deploy knowledge management tools without thinking about the kinds of decisions it may support.

Risk Mitigation

In order to be fully equipped to make any decision it is clear that the executives and employees need to have the correct information at the correct time. Care must be taken with version control and other document management activities to ensure that this is the case.

Company Policies are also incredibly important when it comes to risk mitigation and of course the documentation pertaining to governance must be easily findable and accessible on the Intranet.

It is also important to build corporate governance into the operational processes on the Intranet. For example if certain people may not speak on behalf of the organisation, they should not be able to post on the corporate blog, some employees might need to be moderated and some actively encouraged to create thought leadership blogs etc.

Risk can also be mitigated by building flags into the Intranet, for example when a senior engineer resigns, anyone who is working on a project with her is immediately notified and can proactively co-opt a new resource onto the project. Another example could be when a supplier has let the company down, that the system alerts the accounts manager that there may be a delay on delivery to the client.

Innovation

We all know that the pace of change is rapidly increasing and the Intranet is a fabulous collaboration tool for different employees from different parts of the organisation to become aware of Innovation projects and participating in innovating into the future.

Well designed Intranets let the employees attach all the related documentation to the Innovation project as well as the profiles of the individual participants, so that in future this data can be interrogated to understand the innovation process or to identify people will great innovation skills. This is a great knowledge management tool.

Learning

The Intranet can incorporate workflow which enables the employees to identify gaps in their knowledge and to book themselves on courses. It can provide on-line material and the succession plan can also be built into the individuals profile as they learn and progress through the organisation.

Employee Engagement

The Intranet is a fantastic tool for connecting and communicating with employees, whether it is providing them with interesting content, rewarding them for contributions or enabling them to see how they are performing or just letting them network and up-skill each other within professional communities of interest.

The ability to profile employees leads to all kinds of opportunities from improving their search experience, enabling people to find certain skills within the organisation.

The days when an Intranet was a nice to have are gone. The modern Intranet is a critical strategic and operational tool which no medium to corporate business or public sector organisation should be without.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, Digital Communities, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Semantics, Web 2.0