Tools & Technologies

Four Ideas That Will Transform Intranets (Panel Fun)

Four intranet professionals have a short amount of time to present an idea about the intranet transformation. William Amurgis, Rachel McAlpine, James Robertson, and Martin White each have 5 minutes to present their idea. This is the last session for the first day of Intranets 2012.

William – "leaders need to relinquish control"
– let's talk politics. Australia is a great democracy. With the advert of public social media, democracy takes root and is set on fire. Leaders can't control the message.
– let's get away from the media elites, the monarchs, etc. Now we need to extend this thinking to our organizations – let's change the fundamental human behaviour.
– leaders – by virtue of their expertise, talent, and experience – have risen to the top of their organizations. Now it's time to relinquish that, and draw on the wisdom of the organization. Listen to your employees.

– but still thinks that leaders need to have the decision rights.
– question: won't this slow down decisions? Answer – leaders don't have the information now for making a good decision. This will give better information?
– question: if you listen, wouldn't you just "give people a faster horse" (per Henry Ford)? Answer – you need to listen, but you still have decision rights. You not beholden to acting on it.
Rachel – "the poet and the policeman can be friends"
– decide whether you are poet or policeman – about a 50-50 split in the audience.
– ideal future – just work on the writing, and videos, and stuff. The policing stuff will just work.
– and then Rachel broke into song, with the help of her iPhone.
– question: what would be the number one tip for better educating people so they can police themselves? Answer – figure out your strategy, and then go and do it. Decide to do it, and then do it. Perhaps a tip a day.
– question: what about the non-poets? Answer – (sorry, didn't catch the answer)
James – "mobile intranets will replace desktop intranets"
– I tell people how to design intranets. And then about 18 months ago, someone said "most of our workers don't work at a desk. All the paper is in a shed. A desktop intranet won't help them. If I gave them all phones, they could access the intranet. Could I just do an intranet on a phone?"

– James's answer – "maybe you could." For many people today, they are away from their desks. We need to meet peolpe at the point of need, with intranet accessibility from mobile devices (smartphone, tablet)

– maybe – intranets in the future – we can abandon the desktop, and deliver stuff to people on the devices that they have with them most of the time.
– "80% of everything is rubbish. But you can't deliver rubbish on a mobile phone."
– … this will force us to deliver good stuff – the stuff that staff actually need.
– question: the definition of a mobile device is getting strange – doesn't that include a laptop? Answer – "I'm talking about something I can cradle in my arm and massage." Yes – talking about small devices – smartphones, and tablets, and other interesting devices.

– comment: we talk about "on-the-go" devices / workstyle.
Martin – "who needs navigation"
– we all love information architecture – ("groan"). It's an old idea – there's a book from 1571 that has a tree structure for navigation.
– 450 or so years later, we still can't get it right (widespread laughter).
– Amazon has navigation down the side, but you don't use it. You use search instead – that surfaces the navigation within the search results.
– Yahoo vs Google. Yahoo – let's organize everything. Google – let's find everything.
– argument – don't spend time figuring out where to put things. Just do search right.
– stop wasting time and screen space with navigation, and use a search box.
– let the technology of search let your users find what they need.
– question: how does search help someone who doesn't know what they're looking for? Answer – if someone enters a basic search term, show them the basic search results. Eg., "HR" – show them where to find the HR department.

– question: today's search engine rely on links. Answer – you're talking Web search, not enterprise search. It's very different. It's doing semantic analysis.
– question: what if we can't find afford a search engine? Answer – find another job. Getting good search technology is not expensive.
– question: what about navigation 2.0 – they are the results of previous search terms. Answer – that's what I'm saying. Use the filters and facets.
– question: ("you've already got my money") you need lots of resources to fine tune the data. What you're not spending on navigation and IA, you spend it on fixing the data. Answer – fantastic. Navigation just hides bad data. My approach gives a way of fixing it.

Voting – everyone had "$100 funny money" for voting.
– the winner was … Martin White
– William … 239 g
– Rachel … 236 g
– James … 243 g
– Martin … 263 g

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