Tag Archives: Knowledge Management

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

Advertisements

14 Comments

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

Marketing and Innovation in Managing Skills

Many companies like to boast that employees are their greatest source of competitive advantage, yet the reality is somewhat different. it has become imperative for us to focus not only on how we attract and retain talented people, but also on how we engage them to deliver to our bottom line, to the best of their abilities.

Gone are the days of company loyalty. Talented employees see themselves as mobile and in control of the future of their careers. As the workforce becomes more mobile, gains control of negotiations with employers, the costs of managing and retaining talent intensify because we need to take a strategic approach to attracting talent and managing our competitive advantage.

So where do marketing and innovation fit into the picture?

In their book Marketing Management, Kotler and Keller (2006) say that “Marketing deals with identifying and meeting human and social needs”. The American Marketing Association (2004) defines marketing as “an organisational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organisation and its stakeholders”. The social definition of the role of marketing in society is “a societal process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering and freely exchanging (products and) services of value with others.”

Substitute the word “customer” with “employee” and we see a remarkable similarity in the processes for attracting and retaining talent.

To escape the economically challenged business models that have their roots in a time when talent was plentiful, companies will need to adopt a strategic approach to the HR processes for attracting, retaining and engaging talent through innovation (Hamel 2007). Elements of this approach can be adopted from marketing best practice.

So how could we use innovation and marketing to mitigate the skills shortages?

There are several steps in creating, communicating and delivering value to employees and for managing relationships in ways that benefit the organisation and its stakeholders

Creating value through innovating employee processes

Many organisations have removed themselves from their employees and adopted processes to automate their management and standardise their delivery. This was entirely relevant in a manufacturing world such as we saw in the last century, where the unit we applied to make money was labour. Today, it is intellectual capital that provides competitive advantage. The rules have changed, we are no longer standardising delivery, but amplifying it.

Take a good look at your business. Are you creating sustainable competitive advantage through your most important assets? Have you evaluated and innovated the principles, processes and practices that are based on outdated economic and business environments? Wealth creation will come from ensuring that you get a superior return on your employee investment. This is the product of attracting, retaining and engaging superior skills that are committed to acting in the best interests of your organisation.

Delivering value to your employees

We find ourselves in a very interesting time; just as we see the rise of the power of the knowledge worker as a revenue generating resource, along comes a new technology in the form of web 2.0 which enables us to change the way we manage to get the best return from employees.

The Gartner Group describes web 2.0 as “a transformative force that’s propelling companies across all industries towards a new way of doing business characterised by harnessing collective intelligence, openness and network effects.” We derive value from our employees by engaging with them, delivering the value to them as knowledge workers and motivating them to act in the best interests of the organisation.

The future of how an organisation will derive value from its employees is gathering pace on the web. The Internet is the most adaptable, innovative and engaging thing that human beings have ever created (Hamel, 2007).

The modern role of employee management is to magnify human effort, this is now possible using web 2.0 to get more out of individuals by harnessing their initiative, creativity and passion and then equip them with the tools, incentives and working conditions to compound those efforts in ways that allow human beings to achieve together what they could not do individually.

Grow your employer brand

Critically evaluate your brand from the point of view of potential and existing employees. You may know that you work for a first-rate organisation, but does prospective talent know this and how much credibility does your employer brand have in the market? How can they recognise you as a superior employer above other companies?

In marketing there are three primary ways to communicate your value; advertise it, use compelling public relations and rely on word of mouth. When communicating to your employees and future employees, the best way, is to let them experience it and tell others about it. What better way than to harness the power of 2.0 as a strategic business tool in 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.

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.

5 Comments

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

Knowledge Management on the Intranet

The success of organisations depends as much on their ability to manage knowledge as it does on the other competitive differentiators such as the strength of its brand, the skills of its employees and depth of customer relationships.

When a knowledge management strategy that delivers on specific business objectives is built into the Intranet, it makes an important contribution to realising organisational value.

Knowledge Management is more than the classification of all the documentation that resides on hard drives, Outlook in-boxes and filing cabinets. It includes the strategies and processes of identifying, capturing, creating, surfacing and leveraging knowledge. Knowledge management also includes strategies to foster a culture of information sharing, collaboration and the implementation of tools that make it easier for employees to share what they learn and, in turn, to learn from each other.

In the past, Intranets have been information repositories, that were not appreciated nor used effectively by employees. Corporate Intranets are gaining new prominence in many organisations, and many companies are revisiting the opportunities provided by knowledge management.

As organisations recover from the economic downturn by consolidating their operations, revisiting their product road-maps and positioning themselves as being more customer-centric, they will start looking to their company Intranets as the backbone for delivery on their business objectives and operational strategies.

Organisations are also discovering that investing in a robust, functioning Intranet is a resource intensive endeavour and that they must look for other benefits when making the business case for an enterprise-wide intranet.

KM initiatives are intellectual capital investments and should be aligned with specific, long-term business goals, as part of the Intranet Strategy.

Communities of interest are groups of people within the organisation who have common interests, work functions or strategic objectives. They share their insights, experiences, learning and knowledge amongst each other for mutual benefit. They are typically loosely structured, decentralised, fluid and built on personal relationships. Communities of Interest are perfectly positioned to support knowledge management projects.

Collaborative environments such as enterprise Intranets force employees to be focused, thoughtful and careful in their contributions. Knowing that what is published may potentially be viewed by the whole organisation, or that other users may have the ability to rate the article, forces the participants to be more disciplined in their contributions. The collaborative, real-time feedback environments of a company Intranet encourage self-policing and more strategic information sharing. The downside is that it can also discourage participants from sharing any information whatsoever.

Well-planned Intranets make perfect platforms for knowledge management initiatives. But most Intranets aren’t deliberately planned; they start out as divisional efforts that are leveraged across the whole organisation. Many of these Intranets hold valuable information but are so decentralised and unstructured that they do not support the organisational requirements.

Knowledge management is becoming immensely important in today’s business environment. Teams that share knowledge perform better. By approaching knowledge management in a simple, tactical fashion where the emphasis is placed on the application of knowledge is the key. Identifying the organisation’s priorities, focussing the communities of Interest on these priorities and upgrading the Intranet to be a more of a knowledge platform will help develop a relevant, meaningful and beneficial knowledge management initiatives.

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.

6 Comments

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

The Intranet as a strategic asset

A Semantic Intranet is an Intranet which can enhance the way employees collaborate because it uses “meaning” to understand the content of the documents stored within its infrastructure. It is an intelligent tool which separates the meaning from the format and enables this information to be used anywhere. Whenever documents are created they are allocated snippets of meaning which the Intranet uses in its search to “understand” the content of a document an make it available to the user.

Imagine being able to “Google” your Intranet for meaningful content when on a project. You could “Google” for the relevant skills in your organisation and other documents created for similar projects.

For years, there’s been a frustrating chasm between Intranets, knowledge and work processes. Even the best technology struggles to make sense of the unstructured and meaningless morass of information that burdens most enterprise information systems. Organisations are finally beginning to understand the value of connecting knowledge and process into a seamless experience.

Semantics are effective way to make information systems smarter. If a corporate memory becomes semantically activated, corporate applications can help the users use the corporate memory.

Although Intranets use the same technology as the Internet, the contents of the intranet, the document standards, and meta-information can be controlled by the organisation. This means that a corporate dictionary, or definition of terms, may be used to provide the meta data for documents, and if this dictionary is formalised to the level of an ontology, then the Intranet can become a tool for managing actionable knowledge.

Due to their low entry barrier, easy deployment, and simple yet powerful features, wikis have gained popularity for agile knowledge management. Semantic wikis give information more structure to enable automatic processing of the wiki’s contents. This facilitates enhanced navigation and search in the wiki itself as well as simple reuse of information in external applications or for generating different views on the same information.

Semantic technology promises to have a major impact on enterprise information discovery. Which means that the power of Intranets to deliver relevant and useful information when needed may soon begin to be fully realised.

It is quickly becoming clear how powerful this technology is, and how the pieces of the solution; common languages, formats and ontologies, are coalescing to allow for semantics in action. But semantically described and integrated information will not reach its potential unless it surfaces to managers and knowledge workers in flexible applications that adapt dynamically to changing contexts and requirements.

To achieve this, Intranet management teams will need big-picture thinkers who have both a wide view of enterprise information flows and a focused understanding of how individuals in an organisation work. Imagination and creativity will also be needed to identify and deliver these unique and powerful views into the enterprise.

The Intranet should be the strategic backbone of the organisation. Semantics may be where enterprise data architects meet the Intranet team to move beyond content templates and UE standards to understand and implement the tools that will turn the Intranet into the powerful and valuable information system it should be.

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.

7 Comments

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