Most important in your intranet? Behind the scenes!

by bold-lichterman

In the wake of my quick review of Jane McConnell’s latest digital workplace study I would like to emphasize an error which is still far too frequently made in intranet projects.

I say intranet because it remains the usual name but using it is already a first mistake. If we have been talking about a “digital workplace” for a few years, it is not for nothing. The intranet has gone from being a portal with content that can only be read under duress to a living and working environment that makes sense and finds its place in the daily life of the employee.

Don’t call me intranet anymore, I’m a digital workplace

So it’s not just a matter of words: there is a real difference in meaning, in objective. I reread in this regard the “8 founding pillars of a digital workplaceFrom Gartner:

  • Digital workplace vision: why, what and how

  • Digital workplace strategy: write a comprehensive road map

  • Workplace employee engagement: encourages a corporate culture of autonomy, accountability and empowerment

  • Digital workplace organizational change: this changes everything

  • Digital workplace processes: how to be the right kind of enabler

  • Digital workplace information: on demand and on target

  • Digital workplace metrics: measurement as a tool for change and evaluation Digital workplace technology: get smart

In too many cases, the hierarchy of concerns is, in the order in which they appear:

1 °) The contents. We remain in the paradigm of the top-down information portal.

2 °) Technology. How do we display them

3 °) “other” uses. We are talking about everything related to the work of the employee, what they need to do the job.

4 °) The change. By change we are talking about ensuring that the end user uses the platform.

Be careful, I am not saying here that the change is the 5th wheel of the stick but that it is difficult to envisage it as long as we are not clear with the previous points.

We change the intranet and the user, not the company

But if you carefully reread Jane’s study or Gartner’s post, there is often one major dimension missing: business transformation. How it must evolve to get the best from technology and put the employee in a context that makes sense rather than giving him a technology that allows a lot of things, to urge him to get the best out of it while behind, the management and the processes of the company lock it in old modes of operation.

Finally we change the “front end”, the visible, we ask the employee to change but what does not change is the foundations on which it all rests: the functioning of the company. This usually gives rise to a little wobbly situations where we end up blaming the technology when it is not for nothing in the fact that we have it deployed in a bad context.

Finally, if everyone is concerned about what is going to happen on stage, life behind the scenes does not matter. Hence the often artificial nature of certain uses which relate more to the witness apartment than to a real reality of work.

The intranet is a means and not an end

After that, I’m not saying that it’s easy to transform the business just because the intranet needs study has shown that user needs are dramatically greater than expected. So much so that even if we give them the tools we have to change everything else if we want them to be able to use them.

Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve seen a single company that has changed because of its intranet. Thanks and with its intranet yes. Because, no.

What works is when the company has a vision for the future of work and the organization and that vision is translated into facts and, in fine, in the intranet which serves both as a catalyst for change and as a support for new work practices.

On the other hand, when we make the intranet an end in itself and not a means in the service of a higher, greater goal, there is a greater chance that the intranet in question will be little used.

It is a business project that pulls an intranet, not the intranet that pushes the organization to change.

Unfortunately we still do too many intranets because we need an intranet and not enough because there is a business project to support.

In short, what counts in your Internet project is everything that is going on behind the curtain.

Read also: [Expert] Businesses are too obsessed with social media

bertrand-duperrinBertrand Duperrin is Digital Transformation Practice Leader at Emakina. He was previously Consulting Director at Nextmodernity, a firm in the field of business transformation and management through social business and the use of social technologies.

He regularly deals with social media news on his blog.