Major organisations at IBF Paris meeting call for accelerating change for intranets
IBF recently brought together a gathering of member and guest organisations in Paris to discuss intranet and digital workplace trends and challenges. Over a lovely lunch at Le Laurent on the Champs-Élysées, the group shared rich, practitioner conversations on a range of intranet themes, from user experience to the ongoing relevance on the intranet in the workplace of the 21st century.
Leading the conversation was Paul Miller, CEO and Founder of the Digital Workplace Group and Digital Workplace Forum, and he was joined by Milan Guenther, a member of DWG’s benchmarking team. Round the table Paul and Milan were joined by heads of IT and web for AXA, Société Générale, Total, Sodexho, Alcatel-Lucent, Clifford Chance, BNP Paribas and Steria. Several themes emerged as central for the group:
Reorganization and integration of intranets.
Intranets are evolving as part of a wider ecosystem that is the digital workplace. The position of intranets in the digital workplace ecosystem is being re-evaluated and is looking more and more like a network of social nodes overlaying the modern digital tools. In this challenge the unification of technology is key to organizations, so that users can focus on networks and content rather than technical issues. Integrating new systems such as social and knowledge tools is a major challenge for intranet managers.
Organization of content and the fragmentation of intranets
The vast and ever growing amount of information present on intranets is increasingly a challenge for intranet managers. The issue of fragmentation and duplication is a great concern in global organizations, and as a result, finding a document is harder than finding a needle in a haystack. Some employees prefer to ask co-workers for the location of a document rather than search on the intranet. This is an example of the failure of intranets to be properly organized and usable. The group discussed the issues around information architecture and taxonomy that underlie this failure, and also reflected on how social elements could help to improve the situation.
Usability of intranets
The usability of intranets was certainly at the forefront of the discussion. Milan Guenther introduced the subject in his presentation by saying that intranets still look like they’re from the 1980s, yet employees have to use them as their main gateway to their work tools every day. In an age where usability and user experience are paramount, where design is so essential to the way we use technology, intranets still feel very clunky and outdated. Many around the table agreed that the company should aim to create a user-friendly and consistent experience for all applications throughout their intranet. The success of Apple products and the Apple ecosystem was used as a parallel to show the necessity of having well integrated applications for the knowledge worker. Providing the right connections and a fluid experience is central to the reinvention of the intranet.
At the heart of the lunchtime discussion was the evolution of intranets and the need to re-evaluate their place in the wider digital workplace context, as well as the need for intranets to move with the times and provide ever richer user experiences.
This is a guest post by Numa Pigelet, Graduate Student in Human Computer Interaction and User Experience at University College London.
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