9 key insights as an intranet manager

A good intranet helps get the job done

oznorWith 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.


The end of the beginning of a totally new financial system

Volumes have been written about bitcoin, blockchain and cybercurrencies, in particular recently given the hype and immense fluctuations in the value of bitcoin.

Last week, Bebo White held a popular keynote with observations on cybercurrency and blockchain. Bebo is Departmental Associate (Emeritus) at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in San Francisco and was on the team who installed the very first Web server in the US.

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.

It’s more than just payments as Bebo said.

He shared examples of how blockchain comes with empowerment and transparency which has made organizations such as the UN use it for their refugee work. A recent example is documented by SingularityHub: 5 Reasons the UN Is Jumping on the Blockchain Bandwagon

In another example, he brought up this CNBC article: Cash is useless in Venezuela thanks to hyperinflation — so people are turning to bitcoin

He did not ignore the recent press and controversy around the enormous power consumption required to mine bitcoins.

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.

You can find Bebo’s complete keynote slides here:

Deloitte has written a good paper on Six Control Principles for Financial Services Blockchain (PDF, published Oct 17)

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.

For more details, see Bebo’s slides from the J. Boye Aarhus 14 conference titled: Are You Ready for Bitcoin? (Is the World Ready for Bitcoin?)

5 things about the web that we need to future-prove

The World Wide Web has been around for just some 25 years. And we are still struggling to find answers to basic yet fundamental questions regarding digital records management, says Steven Pemberton, a WWW pioneer, chair of several W3C working groups and researcher at The Centre for Mathematics and Computer Science in Amsterdam.

Steven Pemberton speaking at Interaction14 on The Computer as Extended Phenotype


Will we for example still be able to read and access websites made today in 100 years time? Or will all our content be lost to future ages? What is needed to make the web age-tolerant? What do we want from the web in both the short and long term?

Reflections of a World Wide Web pioneer

Steven has spent his career researching issues related to the Web and to prepare for his keynote at the J. Boye Aarhus 17 conference, he tasked himself with reflecting and finding answers to these questions.

In his opinion, we need to look at the following five issues if we want to future-prove the web for generations to come:

1) Content

Despite the use of style-sheets, the current web is almost completely visually-oriented. This locks the content into one particular representation, and makes it hard to re-purpose. What we need is a web that is primarily content-oriented, with a final phase of presentation; only in that way can content be repurposed in the same way that data can be. Design for the web should be like design for a house style. It has a general style that the content can flow into.

2) Multi-device

We don’t want to have to produce copies of our websites for each new type of platform or device. There needs to be a generic method of re-purposing content to the form factor of the device accessing it.

3) Accessibility

Even when we are 80, we will still want and need to use the web. How can we make our 30-year-old selves sensitive to the problem of our less-abled

4) Authorability

With the arrival of HTML5, the web has stopped being about documents, and started being about programs. Now only programmers can produce modern web pages. What can be done to alleviate the problem?

5) Availability

HTTP, the protocol used for serving Web pages, has served us well for the last 25 years, but is beginning to show its age: it has become a single-point-of-failure for content. It enables DDoS attacks, makes it easy for governments and other agencies to censor sites and content, and just when a website becomes super-popular it can fail causing the website to crash and be unreachable.

How do we best approach the future of the web?

How to measure the value of your digital workplace

The intranet has long been about internal enterprise collaboration. However, this is only a part of the story. According to Martin White, UK-based intranet expert and founder of Intranet Focus, the value of an organization’s digital workplace is dependent on the extent to which the organization can work with suppliers and customers in an overall delivery of products and services.

In advance of his J. Boye Aarhus 17 conference session on the digital workplace conference track, we have asked him to explain how he connects the value of a digital workplace to the ability to cooperate with suppliers and customers, what makes a successful digital workplace strategy, and what are the challenges of executing a digital workplace strategy. Also, we asked Martin to comment on what we need to know about the digital workplace for 2018 and beyond.

Why is the value of an organization’s digital workplace dependent on outsiders?

If the focus of a digital workplace is only on achieving internal objectives then the organisation will gain no benefit. Every organisation purchases products and services from suppliers, adds value through a range of processes and delivers to clients and customers.

To achieve business objectives the digital workplace has to reflect the way in which clients and customers want to do business. That is why IT should never be driving a digital workplace initiative.

What characterizes a successful digital workplace strategy?

In 2000 Jeffrey Beir, the Founder of eRoom Technology said that digital workplaces should be comprehensible, complete, contagious, connected and cross-enterprise. eRoom was later acquired by Documentum, which in turn was acquired by EMC.

The quote by Jeffrey was almost 20 years ago and we are still struggling to achieve these in first-generation digital workplaces.

What are the most common challenges you see organizations facing when they execute their digital workplace strategy?

If only organisations had strategies! Where there are strategies they are often bottom-up, starting from a given technology platform, and not top-down AND bottom-up led by the Board and Chief Executive. If a digital workplace programme is going to make a significant impact on business performance then it has to be led by the Board. If there seems to be no potential impact then why bother?

I see the biggest challenge as not being ready to work with the entire supply/customer chain. Law firms for example are facing a substantial change in the way they do business.

What should digital professionals dealing with the digital workplace in one way or another know for 2018 and beyond?

Know the business well enough, and in particular how decisions are made and tasks are undertaken, to spot where thinking digitally will have both the greatest benefits and the greatest risks.  It is not just about ‘collaboration’ or ‘enterprise social networking’. By definition enterprise social networks are internal – the conversations and collaboration with organisations and people outside of a business are equally, and maybe even more, important.

3 steps to effectively implementing a social intranet

Social intranets are not a mystery any more. The vast majority of intranets today have social at their core, and the social mindset isn’t something new. Still many organisations and companies struggle with effectively implementing and breaking down the often overwhelming complexity of social intranets. I’ve previously written that social intranets make the job harder for internal communications.

This is why I sat down with Claudia Eichler-Liebenow to discuss strategies for both simplifying the social intranet and implementing it effectively.

Claudia is a digital workplace at workCEL in Germany and she will be attending at the upcoming J. Boye Aarhus 17 conference in November.

1) Communicate the need for a new platform

An often overlooked step in the implementation process is clearly defining and communicating the purpose of a new intranet platform. What is it trying to accomplish? And why should employees care?

According to Claudia:

“Higher activity can be a goal in itself, but usually it should also be a means to an end”

she continued:

“Whatever the goal, it is important that it is clearly defined and communicated to the end users. Gathering support can be very difficult, if the users feel that they are being asked to adapt to a new platform for no good reason”.

2) Getting everyone to see the need for change

Among many good reasons for adapting to a new and more social intranet platform, is that it will make collaboration easier for the users. As they say, knowledge is power, but community is strength.

This is why the implementation of the intranet should always be driven by the requirements and needs of end users — not management. It is the best way to ensure support and activity down the line.

People aren’t made for tools, but the other way around, so the development of the platform should be a process that involves and engages and where people influenced by the decision are involved as much as humanly possible.

3) Using ready-to-run frameworks is key

If the intranet is to spark high activity in different groups of employees, being able to actually deliver on the tools they need in a timely manner becomes key.

In this aspect turnkey intranet frameworks will be essential to reduce technical discussions and to focus on user’s usage scenarios within the platform. They are an effective way to meet different collaboration needs throughout your organisation or company — which is what any intranet essentially boils down to.

Learn more about social intranets

You can meet Claudia Eichler-Liebenow and other intranet and digital workplace experts at the upcoming J. Boye Aarhus 17 conference taking place 7 – 9 November in Denmark. Among the conference tracks are a dedicated employee experience track and a digital workplace track.

10 Employee Experience Professionals to Watch in 2017

10best2017`collageMost organisations are undergoing radical changes on many fronts. Rapid evolution on the digital and technological fronts and changing demographics within the workforce are challenging conventions across sectors and industries. The combination of a new generation entering the workplace with fresh skills, approaches and expectations and experienced seniors staying on for longer means that we need to fundamentally rethink the workplace – and how we design the employee experience to make the best of this new reality.

Creating a harmonious workplace is not a new discipline, but it takes more focus and cross-departmental effort and coordination than ever before to get it right – given the rapid pace of change. Creating good customer experiences and mapping smooth customer journeys have been ways of gaining market share across sectors and industries  for ages. Many organisations are becoming acutely aware of the importance of creating equally good experiences for their workforce if they are to attract and retain the best talent now and in the future. This growing focus on the employee experience requires skilled and experienced professionals to take the lead, bring together the may strands and pave the way ahead.

At J. Boye we have identified 10 pioneers who in their respective ways are making waves in terms of improving employee experiences. Some lead software start-ups, some are independents and some work for complex global organisations – privates as well as NGOs – where they are making a notable difference.

We’ll be watching these bright individuals:
Elina Reinholtz

  1. Elina Reinholtz, Philips (DE)
    Working at the regional Philips headquarters in Hamburg, Germany, Elina has been instrumental in redefining the workplace. Philips has globally rolled out new corporate meeting spaces, which fuse productivity and wellbeing. They have totally redesigned the workplace for an improved employee experience.Frank Wolf
  2. Frank Wolf, Staffbase (DE)
    Frank is one of the co-founders of Staffbase, an employee communications app start-up spun out of T-Systems MMS in Dresden, Germany. If you’ve worked with an employee app, you’ve likely experienced how push notifications changes the game. Now with investor funding and a NYC base, Staffbase has been able to secure an impressive client list, including adidas, Daimler and Siemens.Hanna Karppi
  3. Hanna Karppi, Skanska (SE)
    Hanna has almost ten years’ experience in communications and change management positions on both a Nordic and a global level. Currently she leads the development of Skanska’s global digital workplace. Hanna is an energetic “never giver upper” who enjoys driving change and engaging people around the organization. Meet Hanna Karppi in November for the J. Boye Aarhus 18 conference.
    Jason Jacobs
  4. Jason Jacobs, RBC (CA)
    Jason is director of strategic and online communications and heads up the internal communications efforts at Canada’s largest bank. He constantly pushes the envelope and tries and tests new ways of utilising existing and emerging platforms and channels to engage RBC’s global workforce and improve the employee experience. 
    Jonathan Phillips
  5. Jonathan Phillips, ClarityDW (UK)
    Jonathan is a power house in the field of employee communication. He has extensive experience of leading both internal and external digital communications efforts in a large enterprise. He spent almost two decades at Coca-Cola Enterprises in the UK and has constantly pushed the boundaries and tried new things. He has generously shared his experiences through blogging, speaking etc. A true thought leader. He now flies solo with ClarityDWSara Glick
  6. Sara Glick, Discovery Communications (US)
    Sara and her team deploy a wide range of tactics to enable cross-pollination of ideas, talent and inspiration across the multi-faceted organisation. Storytelling, culture-building, talent meet and greets, experiential events, campaigns, outreach and much more; all used to recognise and highlight the creativity and excellence of the talented employees at Discovery.Sharon Dea
  7. Sharon O’Dea (UK)
    Sharon has held numerous internal communications posts – including as intranet manager at Parliament in the UK, Head of Digital Comms at Standard Chartered Bank and Digital Engagement Lead at the Department for International Trade in the UK. She is constantly exploring new territory and assessing the value of emerging tools and technologies and ways of deploying them successfully in the enterprise. And she is great at sharing her findings and thinking with the World – through blogging, tweets and other outlets. She is currently freelancing around the World. Wictor Wilén
  8. Wictor Wilén, Avanade (SE)
    Office 365 from Microsoft is hard to avoid as a key technology and game changer for most employees. Few manage to combine deep technical understanding and business acumen like Wictor who is also acknowledged in the Microsoft eco-system as a Most Valuable PlayerSarah Livingston
  9. Sarah Livingston, Oxfam America (US)
    Sarah is a highly dedicated connector, facilitator and communicator. She highlights and promotes many of the extraordinary achievements of Oxfam’s activists, campaigners and front line staff to stakeholders and supporters everywhere. Her enthusiasm is contagious and she manages to make impact and facilitate meaningful collaboration and conversations – and introduce innovative and empowering new initiatives despite having very limited resources at her disposal.
    Shaun Randol
  10. Shaun Randol, Bloomberg (US)
    Shaun and his colleagues on Bloomberg’s Employee Innovation and Communications Team navigate and use a plethora of tools and channels to inform, engage, enable and inspire their global workforce. He is constantly exploring new styles and formats and is obsessive about measuring the impact and effectiveness of the team’s endeavours; he has an inspiring approach to using data and insights to constantly improve, adjust and make better informed decisions.