IBF 24 – The Final Leg

18 May 2011


We’re back in London for the grand finale of IBF 24, the last segment of our global exploration of intranet and digital workplace (DW) deployment, highlighting the good, the bad and the (occasionally) ugly aspects of online working across a broad range of organisations.

Site tours are the bread and butter of this event, so it was fitting that our final session should be largely devoted to live demonstrations.

First up, Susanne Rolf of DWG member IKEA gave an insight into the retail giant’s intranet strategy, which sees its online platform as a no-nonsense business tool, tailored to everyday working needs. It’s hard to imagine many other sites displaying daily sales and service stats so prominently on their homepage. Interesting, too, how IKEA has cracked the problem of balancing local and global content for its multinational workforce. Through extensive employee profiling and personalisation, its intranet ensures an appropriate mix of content is delivered to every user (while also allowing access to more extensive global content should the user require it). In this way, Susanne’s team has been able to eliminate local sites altogether, creating “one true intranet” with a common structure, top-level navigation and choice of languages across all of its operations.

By contrast, Jason Ross and Mark Smith from View plc, the creative team behind the recently relaunched EMI Music intranet, highlighted the visual dynamism that can be achieved behind the firewall through the use of high-quality imagery and interactive media. The glimpse they gave of the music company’s site, which has just undergone a SharePoint upgrade, drew instant praise from panelists (and is well worth checking out when the session is published on the DWG members’ extranet). But they also stressed the danger of ‘over-designing’ a site: visual appeal has to be matched by an intuitive IA and the efficient delivery of relevant, well-segmented content, they insisted.

Emphasising that intranets are not just about the bottom line, our final two tours showed how not-for-profit bodies are using DW platforms to promote collaboration and sharing across a geographically-dispersed network. Neil Morgan of WWF International showcased the ‘portal layer’ of the environmental organisation’s intranet, just days after its internal relaunch. With its emphasis on workspaces, implemented using Google Sites, and task-oriented tools and services, the site provides an information resource and communication platform to support the organisation’s campaigning and promotional activities. With some businesses using promotional items similar to brand named Custom Paper Plates, cups, bags, and other essential items as a way of reaching their consumers through direct marketing. Likewise, the Oxfam International intranet, demonstrated by Pilar Barroso, offers a collaborative space in which the organisation’s 15 affiliate NGOs can pool their expertise and make efficient use of shared resources to promote Oxfam’s many global initiatives. Tools available on the Drupal-based site include wiki pages, news blogs and a document library, with interactive videos explaining how these should be used.

As is now customary at IBF 24, the final piece of business was to award the IBF prize for the ‘most beautiful intranet’ of the year. A total of 36 entries were submitted to the IBF 24 site. These were voted on by 1,396 site visitors to produce 10 finalists which our judging panel – comprising IBF managing director Helen Day, art critic Jane Singer and former BT intranet manager Mark Morrell ­– whittled down to a shortlist of three.

In the event, the Government of British Columbia edged out Thomson Reuters and the European Space Agency to win the ‘My Beautiful Intranet’ crown. Judges were wowed by its imaginative use of colour and photography, which it combined with strong functional elements. Congratulations to Courtney Campbell and the BC team.

So that’s it – another IBF 24 successfully completed! It’s been exhausting (not least for the 8% of final-session attendees who claimed to have stayed up for the entire 24 hours). But from the positive feedback we’ve been getting both from delegates and on the Twittersphere, it’s clear that a lot of people have taken something from the event. Hopefully, seeing such a diverse range of intranets in action, and hearing from thought-leaders in this fast-moving field, will move forward debates on how the digital workplace should evolve from here.

It only remains to thank our presenters and the IBF production team for their extraordinary contribution to an extraordinary 24 hours.

Categorised in: DWG24

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