With this headline, Jesper Bylund from the Region Skåne in Sweden gave a well-received keynote at an internal event at the City of Aalborg last month. I had the pleasure of facilitating the session. Jesper shared 9 key insights based on his 14 years of experience as intranet manager:
Intranets must support the business
Survey and measure
Four kinds of content
Different target groups have different needs
Segmenting information needs
The intranet team
In every device, at every place
The way to your digital workplace
We have inmature endusers
With the friendly permission from Jesper, you can find his slides on Slideshare and you’ll notice that many of the slides have references to further reading on each topic.
What’s the mindset of design-minded intrapreneurs?
Maren is one of the community leaders from the Design at Business community which also includes organisations like Daimler, Fidelity and Nestle. They’ve done a great job at bringing people together to collect lessons learned and share experiences towards scaling design thinking, in particular in large, complex and global organisations.
Company culture was brought up several times in the presentation and Maren kindly shared a booklet on why mindsets matter. The booklet made the point that generic mindsets described in the context of design thinking fall short of what makes successful design-minded intrapreneurs in large businesses. And it came with the missing mindsets that have driven design culture at scale. These include:
Read more in the highly recommended mindsets booklet (free, no registration, PDF download)
Learning from SAP’s 14 years journey in Design Thinking
During Maren’s presentation, she also shared from SAP’s vast experience in design thinking. She honestly covered ups and downs including initial frustration that design thinking could not be practiced and later how design thinking by checkbox was not working.
In recent years SAP Design has made great progress including enhancing their understanding of innovation culture and specifically redesigned leadership as shown in this slide:
The point of putting experts front and center resonated well with me. Readers of the Edelman Trust Barometer will also remember that experts are among those considered most trustworthy inside an organisation, only surpassed by peers. According to Maren, there seem to be two sides of the same coin of “putting experts front & center”:
fostering trust at the customer side (“trusted advisor”)
a higher involvement at the employee side, because they (finally) see the impact of their work, and can directly influence it
Scrum and agile methods has also played a key role in developing design thinking further at SAP. Maren highlighted how scrum has helped distribute power in her project team, create a better overview and how it has created a sense of team empowerment.
Putting ideas into action: Focus on empathy
As a final part of her session, Maren did an empathy exercise. She focused on the ideal work environment and had participants work with an empathy map.
(click for large version)
This reminded me of the famous Harvard Business Review article titled Connect, Then Lead from 2013, which made the point that warmth trumps strength.
Maren took a slightly different, yet related path, with this key question to kick off the discussion:
How does the ideal work environment look and feel like?
To cite from the conclusion of the book – as it relates to how creative workspaces help scale design thinking:
…the creativity that is unleashed not only allows people to build better products
and make customers happier but also to build a better company, leading to a sustainable
cycle of innovation, learning, and growth of incredible potential
Let’s continue the conversation
You can find Maren’s complete slides here:
There are many good resources on design thinking. Whether you are just embarking on the journey inside your organisation or have been a practitioner for several years, feel free to share your story below.
If you’ve been working with digital for the past years, you have probably heard of mobile-first. When mobile-first was introduced by Google in 2010, it had a tremendous impact on how solutions were developed. Programmers and others started to think about smartphones and tablets before thinking about desktops and this required a huge change in thinking and also led to a fair share of confusion.
Fast-forward to 2017 and Google introduced AI-first. AI-first means to think about artificial intelligence at the beginning of each new initiative. How might AI help improve a solution? How might AI make for a better customer experience?
AI has tremendous potential, but how to capitalise on it? This was the theme of a workshop which was designed by UK-based MMT Digital and I had the pleasure of chairing as a part of the J. Boye Aarhus 17 conference.
Below I’ve shared some of my key learnings from the 3 hour session, but first thanks to Samuel Pouyt from the European Respiratory Society for kindly sharing his AI perspective and deep insight.
Learning #1: AI has been around for a while and we’re already using it
As Tracy Green shared in the beginning of the workshop, the term artificial intelligence was coined in 1955 by John McCarthy, a math professor at Dartmouth.
The most important general-purpose technology of our era is artificial intelligence
The article is a worthwhile read and also make a compelling case for how AI is poised to have a transformational impact on business.
I had brought my Amazon Echo Dot to the workshop which is one example of how AI has been made available to the consumers. While Amazon initially released the Amazon Alexa personal assistant in 2014, the Echo Dot became widely available in 2016. Today it sells for less than $50 on amazon.com. Since then Google has released their Home device which is also quickly finding its way into households.
How are you using AI today?
Learning #2: Voice is quicker and better than typing
For me personally, 2017 became the year, where I started using voice, instead of typing. Saying “Alexa” or “OK Google” has become a normal part of the day, yet this blog post was still typed the good old-fashioned way.
The use cases from chatbots are far ranging from the employee experience towards better customer experience. To mention just one example, the Dutch carrier KLM have come a long way this year to make chatbots a useful part of the travelling experience. Take a look at BB – their Blue Bot.
Finally, Sharon O’Dea from the UK made the point that if you want to start with a chatbot, it might be smarter to explore internal use cases to build experience, instead of launching external ones first, where they might negatively impact the customer experience.
Learning #4: Metadata auto-tagging is one valuable use case
Metadata is vital to store and manage information about your content and with organisations drowning in content, be it text, video or images, there is a huge pain related to search & retrieval as well as sharing information. Manually tagging content with descriptions, copyright details and so on is incredibly time consuming.
Theresa Regli took the lead on this one during the workshop. She is a thought-leader on digital asset management and works as Chief Strategy Officer at KlarisIP. Theresa generously shared insights on the technologies for automatically generating metadata, including visual recognition, context comparison and machine learning.
She also shared key findings from a recent research, which included insights on the maturity of the currently available global API models, the error margin and on the significant time and effort which is required to train the tools.
Learning #5: The future of business is content-driven
Do try it and you’ll likely be surprised at how well a computer can write.
Last year, content marketing guru Robert Rose held a popular keynote on strategic content at the J. Boye Philadelphia 16 conference, where he opened our eyes towards how far AI has come in terms of writing better content.
From the workshop last week, US-based content strategist Hilary Marsh said something which I agree with:
AI will push companies toward better, more user-focused content
Tobi Stadelmeier who is VP Engineering at German-based CoreMedia brought examples of what’s out there in terms of Natural Language Processing, Text sentiment analysis, video indexer and much more. He also shared the progress CoreMedia has made in terms of using AI to improve both the editorial experience inside the CMS and well as the customer experience.
Learn more about AI for your 2018 projects
There’s so much happening at the moment when it comes to AI. Jake DiMare has already shared some of his take aways in It’s AI-first at J. Boye 17.
In advance of the workshop, Ina Rosen from Copenhagen-based agency Operate not only reviewed my slides, but also shared some of these pointers:
He certainly managed to capture my attention when he opened with these questions:
How many of us have actually been around at the beginning of a totally new financial system?
How many of us were dubious about the World Wide Web?
In his talk, Bebo compellingly argued how Bitcoin and other cyber currencies can pave the way for truly global and digital financial system.
Digitizing our monetary systems
There is one example of data exchange that is essential to a successful society that has so far evaded digitization – exchange of value in mutually accepted monetary systems. This does not mean convenient digital representations of money or value such as are found in online credit card transactions or stock market trades which serve only as digital proxies for genuine currency or securities.
Instead, it refers to a new financial system designed specifically for the digital age wherein value resides only in digital form especially suited for digital transactions.
The design of a robust digital currency system has long been a major software engineering challenge. Perhaps the greatest incentive for its development comes from the meteoric rise in E-commerce. Global buyers and sellers longed for a payment system that closely resembled the anonymity of cash, did not depend upon existing payment infrastructures such as credit cards or wire transfers, and was not based upon a specific national currency requiring exchange processes and fees.
In short, a new financial system designed specifically for digital storage and transactions and for the network era was the dream.
Bitcoin: realizing the dream of a digitally based financial system
The latest attempt to realize this dream comes in the form of cybercurrencies such as Bitcoin. The very mention of Bitcoin conjures up in people’s minds criminal enterprises such as Silk Road, corruption and theft in the Mt. Gox scandal, criminal money-laundering, or anarchistic attempts to circumvent national currency systems.
While such “bad press” for Bitcoin is true, they also illustrate that it represents a system that can and should be taken seriously. When the famous American bank robber Willie Sutton was asked “why do you rob banks?” his response was “because that’s where the money is.”
Perhaps examples of Bitcoin abuse are indicative of its potential to store and process real value. Bitcoin is outlawed in some countries because it represents a break in the financial control that some governments hold over their citizens. Bitcoin is empowering to a population that for various reasons may not have access to a formal financial institution – all they now need is a mobile telephone. The number of Bitcoin that will ever be in circulation is fixed thereby providing a permanent hedge against inflation – something that no national currency can honestly claim.
The technology underlying Bitcoin and other cyber currencies is robust being based upon the same asymmetric encryption schemes that protect millions of secure transactions and communications every day. The Bitcoin ledger, called the Blockchain, insures the validity of transactions and is an innovative application of crowdsourcing. None of the negative incidents attributed to Bitcoin can be traced to its algorithmic methods.
It is impossible to say whether Bitcoin will become widely accepted and will survive in the future. However, Bitcoin has been successful in starting a discussion about the viability of digital money and the role that it can play in our increasingly digital world. Like music on vinyl records and pictures on photographic film, banknotes and coins may find a deprecated or niche use in the future behind their more powerful and flexible digital form.
The enormous potential implications on society
A significant part of the keynote took a step away from the history and technical details and rather focused on the social implications.
One of my personal main take aways from the talk, was how blockchain might be the true lasting disruptive legacy of the cybercurrency discussion. Bebo brought this quote on Blockchain to the discussion:
a technology that allows people who don’t know each other to trust a shared record of events
– Bank of England
Shaping the digital future step by step
Bebo has been a frequent and very highly rated speaker at J. Boye conferences in both Denmark and the US. He first became involved with the emerging WWW technology while at CERN in 1989.
In the global J. Boye network, you have the opportunity of experience macro-thinkers and leading industry experts like Bebo or everyday practitioners in fields spanning leadership and strategy, communication, digital workplace, collaboration and many more.
While I’ve worked with content management systems in various roles since 1999, I was still humbled when the friendly organisers of the 2017 Umbraco Festival in Germany, asked me to present on the future of CMS.
Upon rehearsing I found that the vast majority of my Future of CMS slides covered the past and the current marketplace. To my defense, it is difficult predicting the future and the marketplace is still quite confusing, even to me.
One of my initial points is that the role of the CMS has fundamentally shifted. CMS used to be considered required to build a website and as such CMS vendors saw themselves as the center of the digital universe – providers of a web operating system. This has changed and to put things in perspective, try to find CMS in the crowded MarTech landscape by Scott Brinker.
With agile, cloud, experience journeys and marketing automation already beginning to feel old, below are my 5 key points for what lies ahead:
1) Privacy & security, incl GDPR
In Europe, we can thank the EU politicians for getting the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) passed and finally and firmly establishing privacy on the agenda for any one responsible for websites. Alongside security which has been absent from both vendor roadmaps , privacy represents a huge challenge for customers and a similar huge opportunity for vendors.
Customers expect their digital platform to be able to help them ensure both privacy and security are taken good care of and I’m already seeing innovative vendors making moves in this direction.
As a customer, I need validation and reporting that shows me what data I’m collecting, that enables me to forget customers, and that makes sure my website is not a hackers paradise.
Almost exactly a year ago, Google made the public announcement to say AI-first as a follow up to their much misunderstood “mobile-first mantra about 5 years ago. This means that artificial intelligence is built in from the get go in Google solutions.
Similarly IBM Watson, the supercomputer which combines AI with sophisticated analytical software, has played a huge role redefining IBM as a company.
In the CMS space, customers expect much smarter content platforms. Today what they get, is basically the dumb and old form-based systems from the late 90’s with an updated design and some nifty usability hacks.
As a customer, I would like recommendations on what content I’m missing on my site, built-in analytics and why not offer my website visitors (aka the customers) AI functionality on the site?
3) Next level SEO
Search engine optimisation (SEO) has been big business for a while and while CMS vendors have been busy doing other things, they’ve left an increasing piece of the cake for digital marketing agencies.
Yesterday, today and in the foreseeable future SEO is all about being found on Google. Whether we like it or not, that’s where the customer journey starts and if we are not found on the first page of Google, your competitor gets the business.
WordPress has been among the leaders when it comes to SEO improvements inside the system, but to reach the next level, including for complex e-business sites, much more work is required.
One of the key changes in consumer behavior is that your website is no longer the center of the universe. It really never was and today customers are interacting with you and your organisation on numerous channels. To name a few: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, custom apps and the list continues. And the list will grow longer in the foreseeable future.
Content management systems were built for websites. And that’s the problem.
Today smart customers sees the website as one of several planets in the digital solar system and they have understood the need to be where their users are. Customers expect that a modern digital platform can assist them in working across platforms, re-using and re-purposing relevant content, combining metrics and delivering a great user experience on the platform of choice for the user.
5) Think business development
Clearly the days of brochure websites are behind us. Well, to be fair, they are not really as many new brochure websites are being created every single day using content management systems built for the age of the digital brochures.
GEA is a German-based large, complex and global engineering firm and I’m impressed at how Head of Online Mikkel Andersen and his team have taken their website from essentially a brochure to a B2B lead generation engine.
If you are working in B2C, thinking digital business development is probably not a new thing, but you don’t get much help from your usual CMS vendor.
There is plenty of room for improvement to make it easier out-of-the-box to capture leads, increase conversions and to do business.
What are the key trends that shapes the digital workplace? The previous month has taken me around Europe to meet with practitioners and take an active part in the discussions that are having a big impact for everyone in the workplace.
Where many industry events are led by vendors or agencies, the below input is almost exclusively based on conversations with customers, typically large, global and complex organisations.
Dealing with change was a common theme across all organisations of all sizes, but that’s hardly a new trend. Let’s turn to 5 key digital workplace trends for 2017:
1. A wider focus on the employee experience
Employee engagement has been all the buzz in the past years and is typically related to internal social media initiatives. Some more successful than others. Agencies have told several J. Boye members that getting likes and comments on internal posts and articles equals engagement; but so what?
According to J. Boye Head of Groups, Lau Andreasen, employee experience is the next step:
“Employee experience is much wider and entails all facets of being an employee – and this is where internal communicators have an opening for both grabbing new territory and really making a difference”
At a J. Boye event in Manchester, Jonathan highlighted that while many have been overly focused on welcoming and attracting millennials, we have been missing an important point: The employee experience now also needs to cater to older employees who stays longer and this leads to a widening gap between the youngest and the oldest employee. Different requirements, expectations and needs to make for a good employee experience.
A final point where many organisations have a long way to go: We need to shape the future digital workplace beyond the desktop. Creating apps has already made a key difference on the the employee experience for J. Boye member organisations like Siemens, T-Systems and many others.
2. Increased usage of visual communications
Depending on who you ask, this one has been long coming. Just like with apps or social business initiatives, there are early adopters who have reaped the benefit of visual communications as a part of their digital workplace for years.
In a presentation by Jonas Bladt Hansen, Director of Internal Communications at dairy giant Arla Foods, he talked about how visual communications can be used for numerous scenarios, whether it be complex messages or to deal with the shortened attention span.
Visual communications means video to many, which do require a sizable investment in time and resources to do right. Improved usage of visuals, including infographics, is an easier and cheaper way to get started, but clearly the time has come to not only rely on text.
3. Email is back
This one have been contentious as many J. Boye members have a love-hate relationship with email. Whether you like email or not, email is fact of life and getting email right holds tremendous potential to improve the digital workplace.
Examples include smarter ways to work with tasks, notifications as known from social media and even internal newsletters which similar to email has been announced dead by industry pundits time and time again.
When email is done right, it hugely improves productivity, by providing probably the lowest common denominator for knowledge sharing and with a tool that is universally adopted.
This does not mean that you should stop pushing certain email conversation onto internal social channels, like many collaboration initiatives have done, it means having a new conversation about email and the crucial part it plays and will continue the play in the digital workplace.
4. Chatbots and artificial intelligence
Multipe trends are driving this into the digital workplace. Chatbots are no longer as bad as they were when they initially became a thing and simultaneously Amazon Alexa are arriving in households around the world as a charming personal assistant.
A key function for the digital workplace is to help me get things done. With legacy intranets, employees usually had to navigate difficult to understand information architectures. Now chatbots can assist you to the form you need and to getting to the answer you are looking for.
How quickly trend reshapes your digital workplace may vary, but as has become usual, expectations are going up and employees bring the consumer behaviour with them to work. If your stakeholders can say “Ok Google” or “Alexa” followed by their question and have been doing it for a while, it will take much more than a design refresh to impress them.
5. Towards the future of work
The future is digital, but clearly there is more to the future of work than just a digital workplace. We need to take a broader look at how we organize our everyday working lives.
At Danish Grundfos they’ve focused on how to work as a global network and how the digital workplace can enable this. Guilla Ridgewell from Grundfos recently shared what this actually means in daily practices and how they strive to make learning a part of their global working culture.
It can be hard to figure out what is really going when it comes to the emerging role of digital and those leading digital change in organisations.
This month, I’ve had the pleasure of spending two days with smart digital managers in Manchester and Aarhus where I moderated local J. Boye events.
Your organisation is likely to be different than those who attended, but below I share what emerged from the events as the 5 key themes on the digital manager’s agenda for 2017.
1. There’s more at stake than the website
Clearly your website is important – for many even business-critical. Still it is clear that the scope for digital managers has expanded far beyond the website.
Paul Bason from Manchester Metropolitan University made the point, as illustrated in the diagram below, that there are now more jobs in the creative industry in the Greater Manchester area than the total amount of jobs in automotive, financial services and aerospace.
While you may not connect the creative industry exclusively to digital innovation, it is a fair way to put some numbers behind the massive impact digital is having in the big picture.
It is expected of you as a digital manager to be able to bring the bigger changes together. To see digital in a broader view and be able to go from innovation to business development and onwards to real change and even competitive advantage.
To be more specific, the big discussions for digital managers are no longer about an app or say selecting a new CMS, but on key business decisions where digital plays a vital role. Digital managers today need to make tough decisions on key priorities, make sure digital operations stay up and running, build and lead teams with emerging skills, handle vendor relations and much more. In other words, the role has become much more about management than digital.
If you’ve been a digital manager for a couple of years, you’ve likely had to do a fair bit of preaching and advocacy to build support for investing in digital.
That’s different in 2017, where many have left the digital vs. the rest of the business mindset. Instead it is now the entire organisation who wants to speak digital. That also means that expectations have gone up and the days of the enthusiastic amateurs are over.
Digital has clearly conquered the agenda in many organisations, but most organisations still have such a long way to go to truly reap the benefits.
On a related point, most digital managers still have to deal with the colleagues who have amazing creativity to find workarounds, when they feel that things are moving too slowly. Rob Hoeijmakers from Liberty Global nailed it with his question:
How to create structure without posing too many limits?
3. Measure to improve and to share your success
As already mentioned, digital managers today have to do more management than just a few years ago. A key part of this is to document your success and the value you create to your organisation.
To succeed in digital requires substantial investments in resources, agencies and technology. As we have left brochure websites behind us, it is only good practice to also place more emphasis on measuring the impact.
Abdul Dezkam shared how Grundfos is leveraging data to understand, measure and optimize the customer experience throughout the customer journey. He presented a walkthrough of a customer experience (CX) measurement framework that brings the customer in the center of the business and empowers business to effectively optimize the customer journey to drive more impact on CX in a large global company.
One final point: By frequently sharing the value created by digital, you also effectively keep digital top-of-mind among senior management.
4. Projects & new tech takes time
Yvonne Hansen from KPMG in Norway hosted a session on how to deal with the expanding scope of digital and among the key points was that you can’t only manage.
There are so many topics you need to cover, including strategy, digital marketing, multiple websites to just name a few. Specifically her point was, that you need to invest time in ensuring project success and trying to stay on top of emerging technologies. This was validated by other participants who had gone through 30+ workshops to bring key projects forward and ensure organisational alignment. A huge investment in time.
In terms of new technology, media expert Steffen Damborg shared several examples of how technology is still changing everything. Examples included using small data to truly understand customer intent and measuring customer emotions while browsing your site to optimize for conversions.
In terms of projects, Louis Georgiou from Code Computerlove, a leading UK digital agency, took us from waterfall, to agile, to lean, and many different flavours of governance models in-between. According to Louis, the growth of lean start-ups and digital product businesses has created the ‘product mindset’, a better way to develop digital platforms today.
5. Privacy & security
With the clock ticking to the enforcement of the new EU privacy directive, privacy has finally become a clear priority.
Collaborating with legal used to be restricted to when engaging with new vendors, but now collaborating with legal is a part of every day life for digital managers.
One of the leading experts on privacy and the EU General Data Protection Regulation is Berlin-based Tim Walters. He has previously called GDPR “a ticking timebomb in the digital marketing plumbing” and urged everyone not to underestimate the impact of the new legislation.
So far, the approach taken by most, has been to collect as much visitor data as possible, to potentially enable them to create a better and more relevant experience. With privacy-by-design and the right to be forgotten, we need to fundamentally rethink how we address privacy in our digital projects.
In terms of security, one J. Boye member who shall remain anonymous termed their website a hackers paradise. Making management aware of this had been a huge eye opener.
Learn more and meet other digital managers
You can join one of our many J. Boye groups for digital managers. In the groups, you can learn from your peers and discover new possibilities.
This was the sign that greeted me, when I entered the excellent co-working location called Spaces in late March.
Spaces was the venue for the very first J. Boye event on “Workplace of the Future” held in Amsterdam in late March and a fitting location to think about how to make true progress.
Clearly most organisations are not designed for a digital age. The line between home and office is blurring, and together with the participants we identified key problems, co-created potential solutions and discussed lessons learned.
The Human Resources department was identified as the missing stakeholder in most organisations. Below, I share some of the notable discussions for each session.
Your company culture is already changing
During the past years, organisational culture and issues around it, has been a common topic in many J. Boye group meetings around the world. A popular HBR article from 2016 titled Culture is not the Culprit, helped shape my view on the topic by saying that culture is not something you fix. Rather it is something that evolves over time.
At the event in Amsterdam, social business expert Monique van Maare from IBM, shared their story of igniting cultural transformation for the future of work. IBM was founded in 1911 and has managed to reinvent itself more than a few times. Monique showed this brief video on the new IBM:
Monique shared some quite impressive examples of experimental learning and cross-company collaboration. Some of the key questions we tried to answer were:
How do you sustain new ways of working?
What’s the role of e-mail? In particular with the advent of many new tools
Improving the employee experience using apps
At the German-based T-Systems MMS, more than 70% of employees use the employee app. Susann Wanitschke is their Internal Communication Manager and travelled from Dresden to share a glimpse behind the scenes.
Learning from success stories is always helpful and clearly they’ve done something right when it comes to ensuring adoption. Having an element of fun seemed a crucial element in moving the employee experience into the pocket, onto the smartphones and far beyond the usual legacy intranet.
An often overlooked point, when it comes to the app vs. no app discussion, is that push notifications is one of the real game changers for internal communications.
Finally: The T-Systems app is available in the Android Marketplace and iTunes Appstore and developed by Staffbase.
The Philips journey into a digital workplace world
Similar to IBM, Philips is one of those giant companies, which have managed to radical change in recent years. When they can do it, why can’t your smaller organisation?
As a part of the discussions, we arrived at this slightly adapted and simple definition of the digital workplace:
“Provide best access to people, data and tools”
A new approach to knowledge management
Similar to e-mail which was discussed throughout the day, knowledge management also carries a fair amount of baggage in most organisations. We realize knowledge is valuable, yet we tend to treat it carelessly.
Herman Limburg of CGI took us through an eye-opening workshop where he made us think different about knowledge management. In particular, he helped us see the many non-technical means that are essential to knowledge management.
Do you want to become a learning organisation? The simple advice was to start writing up lessons learned.
We also discussed missing governance around finding subject matter experts and how to ensure that content becomes validated and remains valid and trustworthy.
Making it a productive workplace
The final session was by Casper van Amelsvoort from Rabobank, who shared how they work to increase productivity, collaboration and agility.
Shadow IT might be great for productivity, but what about governance, training and security? Casper offered this advice on how to deal with it:
Discussions in this session focused on trying to achieve 2 major objectives:
How to realize big cost savings
Speeding up innovation while staying in control
The conversation continues
Thanks to everyone who participated and helped make it a most interesting day. Feel free to share a comment below with your reflections and insights on the workplace of the future.