Key Takeaways from Intranet Now: Winter 2019

Below Sarah Blackburn our Client Success Manager, and in-house expert on all things Office 365 shares her takeaways from this year's Winter Intranet Now event.

This year's theme was strategy. For us, at ClerksWells we're always looking for the ‘why’ of our client's projects. It helps us to ensure that the goal is met, and everyone is happy. Intranet Now's own conference strategy is based around giving you time to have conversations with other intranet professionals.

There are a couple of aspects that really help to deliver that and give value to what people are saying – one is the very short presentation format which opens up the chance to get more detail from the high number of speakers. I love Intranet Now's 9-minute session format - bitesize presentations are tricky to get right, but so worth it when people do - all too easy to run out of time, or lose track and waffle away your main points - the best speakers had obviously practised, timed themselves and had just a handful of interesting slides. The other thing is the openness of 'stealing ideas' encouraged by the organiser's Wedge and Lisa and this year there were notecards to help you to write down and take ideas away.

Having a strategic objective that will drive your project through is really important: a new intranet and the things that you put on it (newsfeed, yammer, sharing spaces, policies…) are parts of the strategy, but they are not the goals themselves. So, you don't just want 'a better intranet' because who's CFO wants to pay for that? But what about 'better staff engagement' or 'increased staff retention rates' or 'reduced calls to IT support'? If you can define what will make the project worthwhile, then you've done the first step on the road to success.

One of the rising themes was the importance of user research - figuring out who you are talking to, how they currently communicate. You can't achieve a goal of better staff engagement by writing great content on the intranet if 40% of your workforce can't read it because they're mobile-only.

Greig Rutherford from Standard Life Aberdeen used a noteworthy metaphor (that he's not the GB Olympic gold medallist) to attract attention, but then his clear explanation and excellent conclusions from their 'digital diary' research made the whole room sit up and take note. Standard Life Aberdeen encouraged and enticed people from all over their global business to tell them exactly what applications they used in a single working day (including shadow IT ones) to try to work out exactly what their employees ARE doing and using and HOW the companies digital strategy could most effectively support them. It was powerful research that builds on an evidence-based strategy.

Martin SP from Scottish Natural Heritage spoke about how critical acclaim doesn't always translate - their award-winning intranet matched company culture well until the day that it was decided that their corporate culture was a problem! So the intranet was criticized for not leading the way into the future - fortunately, a new CEO has been a key driver in changing culture, with the intranet facilitating this by putting articles in front of people and allowing them to read and comment, thus opening up the conversation.

So a key message has been that it's not always about the new and shiny - sure a new look and feel can create a temporary uplift, but doing the basics of communication will carry you forward. A massive thank you to Wedge and Lisa for another brilliant and organised conference.

If you would like to read Sarah’s previous takeaways on the Summer Intranet Now event click the link here, and if you’d like to speak to Sarah or anyone at ClerksWells about how to get the most out of Office 365 and your intranet contact us here