6 Mistakes to avoid when installing intranet kiosks

kiosk_256It was not my plan to write about this. With more and more computers on the production work floor, and more home and mobile access for intranets, I honestly thought that intranet kiosks were a thing of the past.
But recently I met several people who are planning to install kiosks in their companies, so I thought I’d share my experiences and help them avoid the mistakes we made.

More than 10 years ago we installed kiosks in some production locations in Europe. The idea was simple: give employees without their own PC a place to access news, policies and procedures, forms etc. It was much applauded by the works council, we thought they looked pretty cool and we expected people to swarm around the installations regularly.
However, not much happened. Whenever I visited a production location, I looked at the kiosk, gathering dust. Some were even broken, and had been so for months.
We decided to take them away and ask people why they did not use the kiosks.

1. Nobody was responsible
There was nobody who was responsible for communicating the availability and purpose of the kiosk, work with management to stimulate usage and adoption, or to call support when something was broken.

2. There was no technical support
IT thought we were supporting these and we thought IT did it. Both parties did not know how to maintain the machines. 

3. There was no training or instructions
At that time, we thought our production personnel was not that internet savvy. Despite that, there were no proper training or clear instructions provided.

4. People had to use the kiosks in their own time
Since management did not know the benefits of using the intranet at that time, and feared all employees would be “surfing on the intranet all day”, personnel was only allowed to use the kiosks in their lunch break or after work.

5. It was not personalized and it was read-only
All our European kiosk-users saw the rather American-oriented homepage by default and they had to click several times to get to useful local content in local language. It also meant that people could not complete forms or make requests or share documents. The American news did not interest them, and the useful content was not fully accessible.

6. They were positioned in crowded locations
Although it was a good idea to bring the machines to places with many users, it meant that people had difficulty concentrating, because many people were talking and passing by. Remember, employees were only meant to use this during lunch!
And…you could only use it while standing.

One of my colleagues used these lessons to roll out an intranet café in a more comfortable setting and with better conditions. Still it did not bring what she had expected. I am therefore still doubtful of the use of intranet kiosks. I am not alone, see these earlier articles from Toby Ward James Robertson and Steve Bynghall who all suggest home and/or mobile access as a better option.

But if you really want to do this, please do not repeat our mistakes! (And please share a blog post with your key success factors!)

Image courtesy of Visual Pharm via gettyicons.com

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2 thoughts on “6 Mistakes to avoid when installing intranet kiosks

  1. Steve Bynghall June 12, 2013 / 5:56 pm

    Hi Ellen, Great post. Although there are some examples of intranet kiosks working, I definitely agree home access is the best path. (I did a blog post about this some months back – see https://twohives.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/reaching-out-getting-non-deskbound-staff-to-access-your-hr-intranet/). There are some examples where very good levels of intranet adoption for non-deskbound staff are reached via home access. I think one important component is putting core HR processes onto the intranet e.g. Employee Self-Service so there is a compelling reason for employees to go there. You’re facing an uphill struggle if the focus is purely internal communications.

    • Ellen van Aken June 16, 2013 / 9:27 am

      Hi Steve, Thank you for your comment and your article – I have added the link to my post. Yes, I think the fact that our employees could not “do” anything useful on their kiosks was a major factor in the failure.

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