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Is the intranet dead? Reflections on the Digital Workplace Conference 2017

That was the question we not so subtly put to the attendees of the Digital Workplace 2017, held in Auckland last week.

Ok, a small disclaimer: we don’t necessarily think the intranet is completely dead but this was our call-to-action for organisations to evaluate or re-evaluate the way they are working and assess if they are providing the right tools for their employees that lets them work the way they want and need to.

Each year the Digital Workplace Conference seeks to inspire both employees and organisations alike; in fact almost half of the attendees come to the conference for that inspiration according to the pre-conference survey results (about 45%).

Like many events at the moment the influence of disruption continues to have in shaping and sometimes even ending industries was a strong theme. Another strong theme was related to change. Both the speed of change in the technology we have available to us but also how to make lasting change (the ever present adoption challenge) in your organisation.

Sarah Bowden, Small and Medium Business Lead for Microsoft, took the keynote stage with a question. Are New Zealand businesses ready for digital transformation?

I think that’s an exceptionally relevant question when you look at the challenge we issued with our conference theme. The intranet is dead: Long live the digital workplace!

Fundamentally we think there is a great set of building blocks available – based on Microsoft’s latest innovation around Office 365 – that allow people to work differently and change the way they work. Sure there is some work to be done to make sure those building blocks all play well together but the starting point is already there! The business drivers haven’t changed much in the last 10 years. There is still a need to provide many of the things that the intranet has traditionally been responsible for. These include access to key information, key tools, news and communication, and a medium for internal marketing and culture. But just these things are not enough to provide a digital workplace that enables a change in the way we work.

A true digital workplace supports strong innovation with collaboration being at the centre of the workplace and embraces a work anywhere style of working.

Gone is the one way communication broadcasts of the intranet-of-old and in its place should be the two way conversations that foster discussion and true innovation.

Content should be personalised and personal (as in it’s your content such as the latest working documents you’ve been sharing and working with a colleague on).

So is there a magic formula to providing the digital workplace? No. But certainly the focus has shifted in the last 12-18 months. Fundamentally the modern intranet should be a place for someone to do their work – and somewhere to collaborate – not a read-only/read-once portal.

Reflecting back on Sarah’s keynote I felt inspired by where technology is going at the moment. There was a couple great examples of the role that technology does and will continue to play in the future. First there was the example of a leading agritech company The Yield who are doing some amazing things with IoT and data to help predict and stop disease in the agricultural sector. Then there was something closer to home for Intergen when Sarah moved onto the fantastic story of Ryman Healthcare’s own digital transformation where patient care is being changed through the application of technology – through the MyRyman solution (read case study here) – to support care staff by reducing the time they spend doing paperwork and maximise the time they have to spend with the Ryman residents.

These two examples showed two businesses who really were ready for change. So are businesses ready for the change? I think so.

Are you ready to embrace the digital workplace and a new way of working? I hope so.

Posted by: Nick Hadlee, Practice Manager | 30 May 2017

Tags: Collaboration, Intranet, content management, ECM, Portals

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