The 2018 Intranet and Digital Workplace Awards show just how powerful intranets, digital workplaces and other digital employee experience (#DEX) channels can be. Leading-edge and early adopter organisations are using digital technologies to their strategic advantage and also crafting a better working day for their employees.
This year the awards received over 60 entries, with submissions coming from both well-known large global organisations and very small companies, from a variety of industry sectors. Across the winning entries, there were a number of key themes.
Full details including hundreds of screenshots can be found in the Intranet & Digital Workplace Showcase report.
Here’s six of the stand-out themes.
1. The age of the enterprise digital assistant has arrived
One leading firm has now shown that an enterprise ‘digital assistant’ is a practical reality, not just marketing hype. More than a gimmick, Liberty Mutual has delivered a sustainable, scalable solution that will inspire many.
The ‘digital assistant’ which helps with our everyday needs is already a core part of the consumer experience of technology. Many of us use assistants like Siri, Cortana or Alexa to help us find items, answer questions and even to complete tasks. Until now, however, a convincing personalised digital assistant specific for the enterprise had not materialised.
Liberty Mutual, a USA-based insurance and financial services company, has created an exceptional digital assistant, which gives access to personalised notifications, common tasks and approvals, HR and team data, basic transactions and more. Employees can also interrogate a chatbot to get things done.
This shows what is possible when you bring together different approaches and trends, already seen in the digital workplace, into a well-designed tool. This digital assistant is a natural progression that exploits previous work on personal toolbars, hyper-personalisation, card-based presentation, ‘micro-apps’, universal inboxes and chatbots.
The assistant is built on a microservices framework which means new tools can be easily integrated, providing a highly scalable and usable entry point into the digital workplace. In a thoughtful implementation which has evolved over a few years, software development kits and indeed business development kits are also making the assistant sustainable.
The assistant is available across different channels, including the intranet, a desktop app and a mobile app. It can even be accessed via a smart watch! With evidence of a successful impact already, this is clearly a tool which will continue to improve. The age of the enterprise digital assistant really is here.
2. Digital employee experience (#DEX) drives true enterprise solutions
Digital employee experience (DEX) has emerged in 2018 as a key driver for delivering business solutions that truly help staff get work done and also provides strategic-level benefits. This goes beyond the basics of UX to tackle how solutions are designed and delivered.
DEX provides a more holistic, strategic, integrated and consistent view of the employee experience of different digital channels, tools and touchpoints. In designing solutions it ensures that smaller details which impact the employee experience are considered, and which put the employee at the centre of solutions. DEX also provides a strategic lens, supporting organisational goals such as better engagement and driving change.
One company investing in DEX is Vodafone Ukraine. The management has consistently used the company’s Jive-based intranet and a number of deep integrations to drive a single digital experience which helps employees work more efficiently but also acts a platform for change. Every major company initiative has been supported by a strong DEX delivered through the intranet. Major initiatives, from a company rebrand, to the roll-out of a new retail arm, to an annual game to reiterate values are all centred on the intranet. Leadership regard DEX as an asset and a differentiator.
At global engineering company Ramboll a new strategy aimed to establish more of a one-company mindset and enable global collaboration. Management sought to help enable this change by delivering a consistent DEX, setting up an ambitious programme that incorporated a new global intranet, an onboarding and strategy portal, a project portal sales funnel tool and more, all in one digital experience!
3. Digital workplaces deliver automation and efficiency at scale
Digital workplaces can streamline activities and use automation to deliver both business efficiencies and make life easier for employees. What’s new is the scale that this is now happening at.
Modern intranets and digital workplaces help employees to get things done. Beyond the basics, they can provide a productivity platform to systematically improve, automate and ‘digitise’ different processes.
Russian technology and media company Rambler Group had the in-house knowledge to build their own custom digital workplace. As well as core intranet functionality to facilitate internal communications, the team has added two detailed modules.One enables better project management, the other streamlines a variety of HR processes including onboarding, offboarding, recruitment and appraisals.
At the UK’s South Wales Police, a new intranet is not only helping to transform communications with extensive blogging and use of video, but also using forms with associated workflow to improve processes. There have been 70 forms already created with 8,000 submissions, which is genuinely changing the way people work.
At utilities company Scottish Water the intranet and wider digital workplace has provided opportunities to systematically improve processes through apps, workflow and collaboration. So much so that an innovation team has been set up to work out what to digitise next.
This all reflects digital transformation that targets the work and needs of employees, in addition to customers and partners. With a landscape of legacy enterprise solutions, this is an approach that will deliver dividends to organisations of all shapes and sizes.
4. Great mobile access to digital environments is now expected
The path to ubiquitous enterprise mobility has been a bumpy one. At last, modern digital workplaces now provide mobile-ready experience on launch day. For any new enterprise solution or project, good mobile access is now an expectation from users.
Over the years, organisations have been slow in providing a view of the digital workplace which is truly optimised for mobile devices. The mobile experience of the digital workplace has, however, been steadily improving. Out-of-the-box products offer better support for mobile. Designers are more used to working with responsive design and development teams are used to producing apps.
There are two main barriers to delivering a digital workplace with a good mobile experience. Firstly, older or legacy systems have only been built for a desktop experience. Secondly, concerns over security and data protection limit mobile access. Organisations are finding new ways to overcome both these hurdles.
At IBM, the team completely overhauled their Bluemine repository of market knowledge with a new design which was responsive. Meanwhile, Australian power-line company TransGrid created a custom-built app to provide mobile access to the desktop systems behind an essential safety process. Now operators use mobile devices to ensure equipment is safe and staff are qualified to use machinery.
Meanwhile the team at MITRE Corporation, a US federally-funded research organisation dealing with highly sensitive data, was able to overcome security issues by focusing on what they could achieve on a mobile app rather than what they could not achieve due to risk concerns. The result is a bundle of highly useful tasks which employees can now complete from their mobile device, including submitting time reports and finding rooms. By taking a pragmatic approach and involving risk functions early, the team created a mobile app popular with users.
5. Office 365 transforms small and medium-sized organisations
Office 365 is rapidly becoming one of the most popular platforms for modern digital workplaces. While this benefits large companies, the impact on smaller firms is proving to be transformative.
When implemented well, Office 365 can have a significant impact on organisations of all sizes, improving productivity, introducing new ways of working and enabling collaboration. But for smaller and medium-sized entities it not only changes how organisations operate, but can help reshape company culture.
Marine Rescue Queensland in Australia plays a critical role in rescuing vessels and people off 2,700km of the Queensland coast. Its 25 squadrons are made up of volunteers, who were using a variety of makeshift systems to get things done and working in silos.
An Office 365 installation has helped transform the organisation, going beyond email and document sharing to deliver real-time dashboards built in PowerBI. The power of connecting different teams is driving knowledge-sharing while reporting is helping with efficiency and transforming decision-making for management.
At small property company Moving Made Easy the company reinvented the processes carried out by a creaking legacy system, building a custom Office 365 solution for its 50 staff. Most of the end-to-end work for the sales process for a property is carried out within this new digital workplace, and it has proved a catalyst for driving sales, and innovation of client service.
Office 365 is also changing the experience of work at medium-sized Scottish Water. Yammer collaboration has allowed disparate teams spread over Scotland who seldom meet, to work together more closely every day for the first time. Across all these firms, Office 365 is making an explicit change to working practices but also having a deeper impact on organisational culture.
6. Successful global intranet projects are phased and iterative
Global intranet and digital workplace initiatives are some of the most challenging projects teams face. Successful projects are demonstrating the importance of taking a phased and iterative approach.
Often lasting multiple years and involving many stakeholders, these projects are hard work. Scope is broad and expectations high but project teams remain small. Once the initiative is actually launched, there’s more hard work to drive adoption and make improvements! Taking a phased and iterative approach enables the delivery of complex functionality that often spans multiple geographies. This enables teams to learn as they go, creating more trust with users by incorporating feedback.
In practical terms, taking a phased approach to global or complex intranet projects is almost always necessary. Rambler Group released its ambitious custom digital workplace in phases, releasing the core intranet first and then project management and HR modules. The team at Ramboll’s roadmap for their digital workplace was already ambitious, but launching the onboarding portal several months before the main intranet allowed the team to test and learn. This assessed performance and launch approaches early, informing the rest of the roll-out.
Taking an iterative approach also goes hand-in-hand with continuous improvement. Since launching its massive global intranet, 3M has already made over 100 enhancements using an agile approach, including a home page redesign based on user feedback. Big bang approaches have their place, but it is the more iterative phase of development which often delivers more value and generates trust with stakeholders and users alike.
Get inspiration from 17 great case studies with screenshots
The full 2018 Intranet and Digital Workplaces Showcase report features detailed case studies of all 18 winning entries, each detailed with multiple screen shots of the sites in question. At $199 it’s exceptional value, helping to both inform and inspire intranet and digital workplace teams. Report sales also support the effort it takes us to keep on running the Awards (which have no associated fees).
Enter next year!
If you’re currently doing great work on your intranet or digital workplace, visit the Awards page, and sign up to be notified when next year’s Awards opens for entries in April 2019.