This is the fourth in a series of five blog posts about some of the likely headline trends for 2015 in the intranet and digital workplace space.
One of my headline trends in the intranet and digital communications space is that there will be a growing focus on creating integrated digital teams responsible for multiple channels, both internal and external-facing.
More often than not, intranet and website teams do not work closely together, even though they may report into the same person or reside in the same function. However the growing attention on the digital workplace and a more unified digital experience for employees, means a more integrated and holistic view of digital services is getting attention, and this may spotlight the advantages of digital folk working more closely together.
The creation of more integrated digital teams looks like it is already happening in some organisations, for example:
- At the City of Malmö where Jesper Bylund heads up a new team covering digital workplace and customer service
- At law firm Allen & Overy where there is a new digital workplace team (more details on slide 18)
- At UK Parliament where there are plans for a new digital office also covering ICT
These examples both provide opportunities for staff within the teams and for organisations to focus digital efforts for strategic advantage.
A new trend?
Of course it’s tempting to see this as a new trend for 2015 and a new “digital workplace movement”, but actually there has always been some integration between digital teams in some organisations. There are even some “one person bands” in smaller companies who do everything digital.
However the combination of digital strategy being en vogue, the overhang of a culture of cost reduction from the downturn and intranet teams eyeing up the digital workplace concept could result in an interest in digital team integration from those who have not considered it before.
Although websites, mobile apps, intranets and collaboration platforms are different with separate audiences, uses and nuances, there are some solid reasons for considering integrating the teams that manage these channels. Of course there are disadvantages, particularly if it is done just to cut costs or if there is an imbalance in skills and experience. However if done for the right reasons, there are many advantages. Here are seven of these:
1. More career opportunities
Intranet teams tend to be small so having a wider team provides opportunities for career advancement you might not normally get within the confines of the smaller intranet function. It also provides new challenges and projects to keep team members motivated.
2. Increased learning among the team
Intranet development and design and the equivalent for the website have some synergies but are also different. Working closely alongside new colleagues provides an opportunity to learn from others and develop new skills.
3. End to end processes
The line between internal and external digital channels is becoming increasingly blurred. Working in one team which looks after both means there is an opportunity to think more holistically about how the channels might interact. Teams can focus more an end to end process which starts internally and ends with the customer, designing sites and services accordingly.
4. Efficiency gains
There are some obvious efficiency gains which can be achieved by uniting teams who have some overlapping functions and processes. This is not just in terms of roles but also sharing licensing costs for example. However integration solely on the back of a cost-cutting agenda is ultimately destructive.
5. More of an equal share for internal channels
Traditionally intranets have had smaller budget than websites. Uniting them and assigning one budget pot means that the intranet may now get a bigger share of the pie.
6. Better alignment of branding
There is sometimes a disconnect between internal and external branding of digital channels. Internal channels sometimes do not reflect the brand and even culture of a company that is displayed to customers. Aligning both is potentially good for enhancing employee engagement and improving customer service.
7. Serving the digital workplace as a strategic tool
There is currently an emphasis on the strategic importance of digital, including the importance of the employee’s digital user experience. Having a combined digital team with more clout and visibility paves the way for a more significant contribution to digital workplace programmes and initiatives.
Are there any other advantages of integration? Is there a really a renewed focus on integrating digital teams? All comments welcome.