Intranet promotion videos #11

I thought it was time for a few new intranet videos. The below are all from Vimeo, which has turned out to be a better source than YouTube. The only drawback is that you will need an account (free) with Vimeo and log in in order to see some videos. This is a recent measure.

So, create an account, log on and enjoy!

1. New intranet for a global construction/engineering company (teaser)

“A Digital Headquarters to bring employees from all geographies together”. This intranet for a global engineering company (mostly agricultural from the website) is named after the CEO (who is also the name-giver for the company) which is a nice touch. Many employees feature in this teaser.
Sadly you can’t see much of the actual intranet, but it is supposed to be social and connecting, and not just functional en efficient. I also get a little irritated these days by all that corporate talk and big intentions, but I am sure that’s just me!

Uploaded January 2022.

2. Updated intranet for an Australian child care organization (demo)

After a rather bombastic musical intro, you see a decent functional SharePoint intranet with all the usual trimmings. The demo takes you through all the menu items. It has a focus on documents and links rather than news. (Nice search options in the central Document library, by the way).

There’s also some community elements.

The site title shows this is a demo site, so I hope that they have had the time to add some images to the link tiles, and to update the icons for the Office applications in the real site 🙂

Uploaded September 2021.

3. Canadian university/college (teaser)

“The more you engage the better it will be”. Quite a cryptic promise, especially because there is no explanation of how that would work.” There is also no preview of the intranet, which is disappointing.

This teaser is one big promise for a new intranet called College Connect, and as you may know, one of the intranets I worked on/for has been called Connect, so I have always been partial to the name. 🙂

Uploaded February 2021.

4. Intranet for a Swedish university (demo)

An interesting SharePoint intranet with a few non-standard items, I think: breadcrumbs on pages, selection of news sources (different than following sites) and My Menu.
I like the yellow dots that signify central sites. Technically it is just the site icon, but I like the concept to separate content in subtle ways, while keeping the design consistent.

There’s also some attention for general SharePoint stuff: search, save for later, navigation and the SharePoint mobile app.

Tip: if you think the speaker talks a bit slowly, you can speed up by clicking on the gearwheel at the bottom of the video and adjusting the speed.

Uploaded January 2022.

5. New intranet for a US online fashion store (teaser)

Nice colourful teaser for this fashion store. It has relevant info and a social component, and even “integration with Slack and workspaces”. I do not think this is a SharePoint intranet 🙂

Uploaded September 2021.

That’s all for today, folks!

Photo by Terje Sollie from Pexels

Images in SharePoint News and Pages

We have established that creating pages and news in SharePoint is easy and gives excellent results. As our intranet publishers get more experience, they are also asking more questions, such as “where are my page/news images stored?”

In proper SharePoint style: It depends! 🙂 on the original location of the image.
Let’s take a look at the various image sources. These are your 8 options when you add an image to a news item or a page. If our admin has NOT enabled the Organization Assets option you will not see “Your organization”.

Your sources for images for news or pages

A copy of the images used (for any page or news post) may be stored in the Site Assets library in your site, in a folder Site Pages. If yes, the page/post will get a new subfolder with the name of the page/post and the images used.

Experiment

To check what happens exactly, I created news items using each available option. I have no Organizational Assets library enabled in my tenant, but I know from work how it behaves.

These are the news items I created, with the name of the image source:

7 news item, each with a different image source

Results

Only Web search and Upload create a new folder.

Web Search and Upload create a new folder

The good thing is, that adding images is very economic; you seldom get copies taking up storage space.
I know storage quota is not really a thing anymore in modern SharePoint, but I have spent so many years worrying to keep SP2007 site collections within their 2 GB storage limit, that this topic will always be on my mind. 🙂
The bad thing is that you will not collect your used images in your site, if you plan to re-use them again. Also, if someone decides to remove their image from the internet or their SharePoint site, you may end up with no image. For News this will not be so serious as most news is volatile. For long-term and important pages, it may be worth keeping your images under your own control.

Results

In the overview below I am sharing my opinion on the various options, based on my experiences, together with their storage behaviour. I have added a ⭐ for my favourites. Feel free to disagree, I like learning from others!

Recent

👍 Convenient

👎 You have probably used this recently, so do you really want to use this again?

📂 No new folder, image is stored in its original folder.

Stock Images ⭐

👍 Good variety of images, freely available

👎 They might get over-used

📂 No new folder

⭐ This is the simplest solution if you need an image and do not want to spend too much effort

👍 All images you can think of

👎 Beware of copyright – finding out can be time-consuming, not finding out can be costly

📂 Creates new folder

Your organization ⭐

👍 Custom images suitable for your organization, no copyright issues (assuming you use your own and bought images)

👎 You need someone to manage these assets. I am lucky as our Communications manager is both a keen and expert photographer AND a tenacious intranet manager, so she really keeps an eye on this collection and is always happy to add new images when you ask.

📂 No new folder

⭐ Easy to use and this allows you to use specific imagery that fits your organization

OneDrive

👍 Nothing

👎 Private by default, so you need to share them first with your intended audience (see my earlier post, SharePoint Holmes and the Invisible Illustration)

📂 No new folder, the image stays in your OneDrive.

Site ⭐

👍 Easily available, good if you have custom images for your site, e.g. with specific theme or branding. Best option for long-standing pages as deletion is within your own control.

👎 Might become repetitive if you have used them before. When you are storing images in a separate library, you or fellow publishers need to remember where they are.

📂 No new folder, the images stay in the library where you have stored them.

⭐ Useful when you create content that will be relevant for a long time, and/or when you have custom illustrations.

Upload ⭐

👍 Familiar experience for most users. Best option if you want to use an image from your OneDrive – upload it from your OneDrive client.

👎 Nothing

📂 Will create new folder

⭐ Especially when you start using SharePoint you will probably have to dive into your own collection on your PC quite often. After some time you will probably be using your Site images, see above.

👍 Good way to re-use suitable images across the organization

👎 This can only be a link to an image within your organization (OneDrive or SharePoint).
You need to know where the image lives and be sure that your intended audience has permission to see it.
The owner can remove it, leaving you with no image.
Once you have used it, it is quite hard to find the link to the image and the site. I could find it using F12 (developers tool) and search for the name of the site or the image (if you know) but that is not very convenient. Please let me know if you know an easier way!

📂 No new folder

Conclusion

My suggestion would be to use Stock Images, Organizational Assets, Site or Upload; they appear to be most user- and maintenance-friendly for short and long term.

Your experiences/opinion

Did I forget anything, or is there an option you really like or dislike? Please let me know!

The deconstruction of the intranet

Deconstructed-PuzzleJust after publishing my last post, I found three interesting things that increase my belief that we are currently “deconstructing” the intranet and making it into something different.

1. No more Internal Comms department.

A Dutch bank and insurance company reported they have done away with their Internal Communications department. The rise of enterprise social networks (two-way communication – I wrote about this earlier) as well as the large number of customer-facing employees in webcare and other business processes had made them decide that communications is no longer a role for one department but for all the company.
English version of article.

Why is this important? Because it is often Internal Comms that has been the department that has introduced intranets to their employees as a communication tool for all the company. They have made sure intranets looked good, that people got training and that the corporate news got the best real estate on the homepage.  🙂

Most of them have realized that the intranet is no longer only a communication tool, but a tool to do your work. In that respect, it may be time to hand over the ownership of the intranet to a different part of the organization, and the digital workplace team may be the best candidate. They can take care of a proper technical installation, governance, training, app selection and development, usability etc. (which, incidentally, apart from the technical installation, are all things I really like to do :-))

If Internal Comms is no longer the owner of the intranet/digital workplace, it means that we can finally use that prime real estate for the most important work stuff, regardless of what that is. Perhaps we can also be less fanatic about design and branding, 🙂 and focus on usability.
But of course this is just one company. I have no idea if (m)any others will follow suit.

2. More talk about an app-store on your intranet.

I came across an article about Neil Morgan’s work for an intranet app store at Richemont. And that was done in 2012!

3. More proof that the app intranet exists! 

And then I found another intranet teaser video featuring a Windows 8 tile view with apps! This is the screenshot. (Please click to enlarge)

Screenshot of the desktop
A screenshot from 19s into the video shows the desktop, with various apps. Source: http://vimeo.com/98925422

Once again, all kind of tools are displayed on the desktop and several elements from the intranet are there (news (in the centre – prime real estate!),  time and weather, an HR app). But there appears to be no integrated website called “intranet”.

[Update October 17th, 2014: Unfortunately, the video was suddenly made private, so I removed the embedded link. I am glad I made that screenshot! ]

This feeds my theory that the “intranet” will be replaced by the individual building blocks of the intranet-as-we-have-come-to-know-it + other tools. I will call it the “deconstructed intranet” 🙂
This term has already been used earlier in a blog by Russell Pearson. I am not sure if he meant exactly the same thing though.

Is this the same as a Digital Workplace? I do not think so – this may be part of a Digital Workplace or a stage towards a Digital Workplace, but I think the Digital Workplace has more to it than just a set of tools.

Have you seen other examples of “deconstructed intranets”? I am ever so curious how this will develop!

Image courtesy of ponsulak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

The pick-‘n-mix app intranet

PicknMix-JellyBeansLong ago, our intranet was custom-built because there was no intranet software available. We always spent a lot of time integrating our third-party applications nicely into the intranet. Any application, e.g. travel booking or ordering office supplies, was built with the same user interface and style as our intranet, and of course they were all single-sign-on!

Later, budget restrictions, the availability of intranet platforms, our management’s decision to buy rather than make, as well as the rise of internet-enabled third-party applications resulted in a mish-mash of different color schemes, user interfaces and password requirements on our intranet. I hated the fact that our employees could not move frictionless from one application to another. But I learned to be happy with small things like seeing our company logo on the travel booking system. 🙂
I strongly believed that a consistent user interface is a prerequisite for an effective digital workplace.

Is consistency in design and user interface still relevant now?
That belief has been shaken recently by an intranet introduction video (unfortunately it has been deleted) where the intranet was replaced by a collection of different apps (Office suite tools, general apps and custom intranet apps) on the desktop in a Windows 8 tile view. The intranet as an integrated website no longer existed.

Although I was shocked at first, I now think this is not such a strange idea. In our private life we are managing many different apps with different interfaces without thinking. We love spending time collecting them on our devices, moving them around, updating them and learning different interfaces, because we want or need to use them. With the rise of Bring-Your-Own-Everything, is designing your own workplace not a logical next step?

What did I see in that video?
I have tried to recreate the video’s concept.  Since I know Microsoft Office suite and SharePoint best, I have used those elements, but of course this concept works with any Office and intranet suite.

At the moment, we generally make these big blocks of functionality available to our (new) employees.

New employee desktop
1. This is the software on the desktop for a new employee.

Over time, most employees adjust that by adding individual links to Office and other tools to their desktop or task bar.

This is the workplace that the video showed. All suites and the intranet have been broken up into building blocks to create a personal digital workplace, in this case for a Sales-type role.

The new toolset as seen in the video.
2. This is what I saw on the video – a selection of all kinds of specific tools, without any mention of the word “intranet”.

What are the implications of this concept?
I think this is a plausible direction, but it raises many questions:

  • If it is pick-‘n-mix, will some apps be mandatory or will you leave it to the employee? Or will you have mandatory or recommended sets for different roles within the organization?
  • Will people have the same patience to create their own start page and learn different tools in the work environment as they have in their private life?
  • Will more employees spend effort in personalizing their start page than the reported 5% that has ever personalized their intranet homepage?
  • Who will be responsible for management and governance? Will it be one role or will every department have responsibility for their own role apps? Or a mix?
  • Will the responsible have any influence on a consistent user interface for internal and external apps? Or will they only be responsible for a set of design standards that every department will have to stick to?
  • Will  “consistent design and user interface” still matter, or is it sufficient that apps adhere to common usability and accessibility standards? (And what would those standards be?)
  • Will the responsible brand apps and if yes, which ones? (after all, we all love email and spreadsheets, and nobody has ever branded those)
  • Will it mean that the employee can pick-‘n-mix another set of apps for their mobile or tablet device, if that works better for them?

What do you think?
I am building this theory on the basis of one deleted video, so I may be completely off the mark. 🙂  On the other hand, it may as well be a plausible and tangible example of a digital workplace of the near future. I certainly have never seen something like figure 2 in real life yet, and I am very curious if this will ever happen. Have you seen anything like it, or are you working on something like this? Or do you think this will take a different direction altogether? Please share!

Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The oldest mobile intranet in history?

Mobile IntranetIt was the year 2004.
It was long before the iPhone was introduced.
It was long before the word “app” had the meaning it has today. If it had any meaning at all.
You could say it was the year 3 BA:  Before App. 🙂

The BlackBerry was all the rage in the corporate world. Everyone wanted one, and only senior management had one at that time. Having a BlackBerry meant you had arrived!

That year our team launched an “icon” on the BlackBerry’s home screen, that opened a small part of our intranet. That part of the intranet that we thought would be useful if you were not in the office.

This must have been one of the first mobile intranets. It was created and introduced by another part of the team I worked in, and all credit goes to the people who had the foresight and the skills to come up with the concept and make it happen. With this post I want to give them the applause that they deserve.

While reading about mobile intranets, and people proudly showing that they have features such as an employee directory especially for mobile use, I suddenly remembered our old BlackBerry app and that I still had some screenshots. So, for history’s sake, here are some more details. Remember that all information shown is outdated.

The intranet “icon” was automatically pushed to your BlackBerry, but not everyone was aware of it, or how you could use it. Of course we communicated, but we did not reach everyone. But everyone who knew about it, was very happy with it. It was still functioning when I left the company in 2011.

This was the icon. It showed our intranet’s logo.

BBAppHome
On the top right you see the icon leading to the intranet. It was the intranet logo, unfortunately not very well visible.

If you clicked it, you could choose 3 options.

1. Stock Quote

This was updated regularly throughout the day. I have not used this much myself, but I know there were people who could not do without it.

Stock Quote
The Stock Quote, updated every 15 mins. or so.

2.  News

  We showed Corporate News and External News only, because we could not target the regional and local news, as we did on the regular intranet Homepage. When I was sitting at an airport, it was good to be able to learn about organizational changes as soon as they were posted. I might have been on my way to a business manager who had made a promotion…or a sudden exit :-).

News
The News. Only limited news types could be shown.

3. Employee Directory

This was really useful for me, especially when travelling. You could search for someone, and their name, position, telephone numbers, email address and assistant would be shown. I have often used this functionality  when my plane was delayed or cancelled, or when I just wanted to email or call someone while being on the road.
If anyone in my audience is still  discussing an employee directory for use on-the-go: yes, this is useful. I think it should be one of the first things to implement on a mobile intranet!

Employee Directory
The Employee Directory. This has been really useful to me.

I hope you liked this little blast from the past! 🙂

If you would like to see more modern mobile or responsive intranets:

Image courtesy of scottchan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Watch. Intranets. Innovate.

This watch just looks smart!
This watch just looks smart!

In the old days, it was customary to receive a gold watch from your employer, after you had worked there for 25 or 40 years or when you retired.

Today, it is more likely you will receive a watch when you START your new job. It will not be gold, it will be smart. 🙂

I really like watches, but I have trouble imagining how a smartwatch could add something to my day. I have already turned most PC and telephone notifications off, because I do not want to be distracted all the time. Do I really need another kind of noise? Is there any essential functionality that would not involve a notification?

Perhaps you have other ideas. Perhaps you already have implemented smartwatch functionalities or other wearable tech on your intranet. Perhaps you have something else which is really innovative on your intranet. If you have, please think about sharing this with the world!

I am proud to be one of the judges for the Intranet Innovation Awards this year, and I am looking forward to interesting innovations on intranets and digital workplaces. I am mostly interested in “things” that improve productivity, but I am open to all good ideas :-).

What is in it for you?

As you probably know, the Awards provide a really good insight into the current state of the intranet/digital workplace. Everyone will benefit from that. But there are also benefits for yourself:

  • Describing what makes your intranet (or part of it) innovative, will make you rethink your intranet’s goals and purpose. When is the last time you did that?
  • By sharing your insights and screenshots you will contribute to the collective knowledge of all intranet folks
  • You have the chance to win a nice crystal trophy and a lot of career-enhancing attention
  • You and your intranet may turn into a good example for your peers for years to come

So come on, make some screenshots, complete and dispatch the entry form before June 6, and feel good about yourself!

How to participate:

There are five categories for the Gold Awards, and organisations can submit for one or more of these categories:

1. Core intranet functionality

2. Social, collaboration and communication

3. Business and frontline

4. Enterprise mobility

5. Intranet rework

You can find much more information, as well as useful tips, on the site.

I am looking forward to all entries!