As new technologies are gaining a presence within organisations, we’re seeing some strategic conversations shifting from the “intranet” to the “digital workplace”. This encompasses traditional content publishing, news, social, collaboration, mobile (and beyond).
This came into focus for us on a recent consulting project for a high-profile media company. With big changes needed, it was natural to outline a digital workplace strategy, along with a phased delivery approach.
But who delivers this exciting future? We made some high-level recommendations on the composition of the “digital workplace team” that would be needed.
While there are no clear answers as yet, this project headed our thinking in interesting directions. This is where our thinking ended up:
The composition of intranet teams
The main role of an intranet team is to … manage the intranet (no surprises there!). This consists of:
- A strong skillset relating to content publishing and management.
- A responsibility for corporate news (particularly when the intranet team sits within internal comms).
- Involvement in collaboration and social tools.
- Very limited focus on projects, business solutions, and technology in general.
In other words, most intranet teams are custodians of an existing intranet, with a primary responsibility for “business as usual” management.
Intranet teams can, and should, be much more than this. This is something that we’ve written a lot about, including:
- How intranet teams should spend their time
- Usability and IA are core skills for intranet teams
- Roles needed in an intranet team
- Monthly intranet tasks
Nonetheless, even great intranet teams have a relatively narrow remit, relating to the intranet itself.
The composition of digital workplace teams?
Moving towards a more coherent digital workplace requires substantial changes in technology solutions and working practices. In many cases, it involves streamlining business processes, and delivering new (more integrated) tools.
This is the world of “intranet plus” — “intranet plus collaboration”, “intranet plus mobile”, “intranet plus BI”. This is a larger scope and vision, beyond just a traditional content-centric intranet.
To achieve this, digital workplace teams will need a different set of skills:
- Very strong skills in projects and business solutions, including full-time BAs and project managers.
- Sufficient levels of tech savvy to help guide technology projects, with a very close working relationship with IT project teams and the CIO.
- A “centre of excellence” for UX.
- Owner of the intranet and collaboration platforms.
Fundamentally, this is a “solutions delivery” team, with a remit to address digital needs not met by other areas of the organisation. The intranet and collaboration platforms still fall under the remit of the team, but more in a leadership capacity than as site maintainers.
Digital workplace teams in the real world
While the focus outlined above may be a big change for many intranet teams, we’ve already seen the best teams start to make this shift. We know of outstanding teams around the globe, including at a financial services firm in South Africa, a Danish-headquartered engineering services firm, and an Australian local council.
In all these cases, these teams have been responsible for delivering a wide range of digital solutions, and their reputation (both internally and externally) has grown as a result.
What team do you think will be needed to deliver the digital workplace?