For the past six years I’ve managed Step Two’s Intranet & Digital Workplace Awards. It’s always a privilege to work on, enabling me to see many leading edge examples of intranets and digital workplaces and witnessing the great work that teams do around the world. Managing the Awards can be quite intense at times, and it culminates in the publishing of the Showcase report (which I edit and write) and also the roadshows where winners receive their medals and trophies.
I recently co-hosted the London Awards roadshow at UNICEF’s UK Headquarters with Catherine Grenfell from Step Two. It was a great afternoon – we had ten winners speaking – and it was nice to put faces to names for people who I’d mainly been communicating with through email.
At the roadshow I did a short presentation about some of my favourite things from the 2017 Awards, although this only covered those winners who weren’t presenting. So here’s a ‘blog version’ of the same thing which references all the winners.
ANZ’s emphasis on use cases for social
Rita Zonius and her team have done an incredible job at rolling out the social network at ANZ. This year’s platinum winner took every good practice and inspiring example they could find and applied the relative approaches to ANZ. What I really like is the emphasis on use cases for social. In fact they collected 150 of them, and also ensured there was a strong focus on helping frontline staff. The team based much of their criteria for success on the specific outcomes from those use cases rather than chasing the adoption figures which don’t always equate to value.
The granny test for the UWSU intranet
The University of Westminster Student Union’s first ever intranet was a very well-executed small organisation intranet with good design, nice features and a well-judged roll-out. The fact that it was conceived, managed, designed, developed and tested by one person is remarkable, so hat’s off to Jon May. As part of the project, Jon even asked his grandmother to perform some usability testing, assuming that she was an example of a user who was less familiar with the type of interface he was designing. I love this tiny-but-inspired bit of innovation. The fact she passed 8 out of 15 tests and advised him that intranets could work well in other companies suggests his design was going in the right direction.
Virgin Train’s innovative approach to apps and content
I’d say that Virgin Trains has one of the most advanced mobile digital workplaces I’ve ever seen. The company ditched an under-performing traditional intranet and replaced it with a series of apps, ranging from the operational to those focused on engagement. This is unusual in itself, but they also take a highly innovative approach to apps features and content which takes inspiration from the Virgin brand and delivers everything with an innovative and humorous twist. For example, check out the launch video for their Yammer network. At the Awards ceremony, Den Carter demonstrated an app which wasn’t part of their winning entry. This shows all the uniforms operated by Virgin Trains but also has a quirky feature where you can mix and match the different uniforms with funny results – it’s purely there for a bit of fun.
COWI’s user testing (halfway up a dam)
COWI has a history of doing some strong things around collaboration and it was nice to see the company extending its digital workplace to mobile. The company has introduced an app which helps engineers out in the field take site inspection notes, photos and even annotate maps on their mobile device. The app is very well executed, but I also like how they did testing with a pilot group who were really trying the app out in the field in real situations. In the launch video the app is being used half way up a vertical dam wall – an eye-opener if you have vertigo like me! The pilot group also then became a group of super-users and champions to help with the launch. To the best of my knowledge, Jesper Lauridsen from COWI, is the only person who has won an Award across two different organisations.
Everything about Mando’s timesheet fridge
I love everything about Mando’s innovative timesheet fridge – a fridge full of end-of-the-week drinks which automatically opens up at 4pm on a Friday afternoon for staff to have a well-earned drink – only if all staff have completed their timesheets. A sarcastic chatbot on the top keeps those engaged and you can ask who hasn’t completed their timesheet. It sounds like a novelty but actually it’s meant very high levels of timesheet completion over many years, it allows the agency to develop its bot and AI skills, its got them (accidentally) some positive publicity and it’s good for engagement.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s intranet hothouse
Most RFP processes are lengthy and time-consuming, both for the organisation running it and for the agencies bidding for the work. When developing a new global intranet project, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) took a very different and highly innovative approach. They launched an ‘intranet hothouse’ – a three day event closer to an innovation session or a hackathon. Six vendors – all paid for their time – worked to collaborate, evolve ideas and develop prototypes in a highly focused environment. Eventually three vendors were selected to work on the project. I think that reduces risk and costs for all, is far more inspiring and produces better results.
PANDORA’s lively roadshows
Global jewellery manufacturer and retailer PANDORA spent two thirds of their entire global intranet budget on change management, with plenty of marketing and training. I love the commitment to managing the change, but also the innovative high energy style of their roadshow launch events with music playlists, mobile quizzes and more. Morten Dal made us all participate in a mobile quiz at last year’s IntraTeam and I could see how that would work well.
VISA’s landing pages
VISA produced perhaps the most lovely looking entry with some elegant use of colour, iconography and layout on a revamped intranet. Overall there is a very nice user experience and the content is all mobile-first, task-oriented and written to good content standards. The team also created a very nice departmental landing page which has some standard features including team details, org chart, main activities, some , standard links and more, but all wrapped up in that very nice design. The same template is also used for teams within each department so you can really drill down into more detail. I thought this was a timely reinvention of the departmental landing page which can often end up as an uninspiring shop window. Also because all departments use it, there is an easy and consistent way for users to explore that teams do.
Scottish Government’s emphasis on homepage apps
There are many intranets which are on a journey to be more of a digital workplace and I like the way Scottish Government has gone about it, developing an intranet homepage which features a number of individual widgets, each representing an app. These apps either contain content or manage transactions such as clocking in and out of work. Users can add which apps they want to the intranet homepage. This approach gives Scottish Government a flexible intranet homepage which can be evolved as an attractive gateway to the wider digital workplace.
Meeting intranet and digital workplace people
It was lovely meeting many of the people involved in this year’s Awards including Rita, Jon, Den, Jesper and many more. At the London event I even met Catherine from Step Two for the first time face to face, even though we’ve been Skyping each other for six years or so. Intranets and digital workplaces may be a bit of a niche, but the teams involved are very nice. It’s a great industry to work in.
Looking forward to 2018
I’m looking forward to 2018 already. It all starts again in April so if you’re working on a project now, consider entering! See you then.