BT Intranet

10 differences between an intranet and digital workplace homepage

As intranet managers, from time-to-time we all do it, despite bearing the scars from the last time. We decide to re-launch our intranet homepage. A triumph of optimism over experience. We know we’ll get hate mail from users the day it launches no matter how good it actually is … but we just can’t help ourselves. And so it is now in BT. We’re full speed ahead on developing a new intranet homepage site which will be launched before Christmas.

I won’t bore you with all the gruesome detail, but when the idea was first conceived, it made me think about what needs to be different this time around from what we’ve previously offered up to BT employees. How does the homepage need to be different to support the BT Digital Workplace rather than the BT Intranet?

Knowing that no one reads blog posts anymore unless they are lists of no more than 10 items and include a big image … I offer you my illustrated-10-differences-between-an-intranet-and-digital-workplace-homepage-listicle-blog-post.

Evolution of the DW homepage

  1. My digital workplace homepage needs to be ‘useful to me’ rather than ‘good for me’ – by which I mean I get to decide much of what goes on the page rather than the company feeding me the stuff it thinks is good for me.
  2. The content on my new page needs to be dynamic, driven by my needs.
  3. We all need a bit of corporate news to feed our souls but, more importantly, we need information from our networks to feed our brains.
  4. For this site to work, the content can’t be dominated by one person – I need lots of information from lots of sources.
  5. I love reading, but I get paid to do stuff.
  6. The person charged with managing my new homepage should spend their time hunting out useful sources of information and offering them to me as feeds to which I can subscribe if I so choose.
  7. I choose … that is all!
  8. More people access the internet via smartphone than fixed line … the digital workplace will be no different.
  9. The digital workplace is an ever-changing and flexible ecosystem – my front door into it needs to be too.
  10. Sticking content in little boxes piled on top of one other so I can see them all at once creates a horrible mess and gives me a headache. Layer the content and let me choose the top content card at any given time.

Thanks for reading … now get back to work! 🙂

Druids, pagans, chocolate and the Great Gathering (@IntraTeam) #IEC14

Augustus Gloop

Gorging on IntraTeam riches

The A303 is a road which runs from the affluent, urban, south of England to the beautiful, rural, south west of England – the latter, a region which conjures up for many English people long, hot, summer holidays by the sea. I’m sure many countries have an equivalent road. But surely, only in England, would someone actually write a book about such a road … and only English people would surely buy it in their thousands! I surprised myself by being one of them … reading it and really enjoying it.

Anyway, about halfway along the A303 – highway to the sun (<- the author’s description, not mine!) – lies a pile of prehistoric stones called Stonehenge, described as one of the ‘wonders of the world’. Frankly, it’s a pretty disappointing wonder of the world compared to some of the others littering the globe but, nonetheless, it has for hundreds of years been the meeting place at the Summer Solstice for various groups who purport to worship the sun or feel the urge to commune with their ancestors. The most famous of these groups is The Stonehenge Druids.

Every year on 21 June at sunrise, the Druids, accompanied by various pagans and occultists are drawn to Stonehenge to do their thing – they just can’t help themselves. Similarly, in the midst of winter in the dark and distant land of Denmark (<- unless you live there or near it … in which case it’s near and dark), an equally strange group of misfits gathers each year to commune with one another at the ancient ceremony (<- by conference standards at least) of IntraTeam. They just can’t help themselves!

As well as being part of the odd group of people who read books about roads, this year, I’m also one of the strange misfits gravitating to IntraTeam in Copenhagen in February. I haven’t spoken at any conferences for some time because, to be frank, in most cases there isn’t much in it for me. IntraTeam is different though. Without wishing to compromise my normally cool and calm image … I’m like Augustus Gloop in the Chocolate Factory! The riches on display are breath-taking.

I fully intend to gorge myself until I’m fit to burst … and really hope you can make it too!

In case you’re interested, I’m presenting on how to be an effective internal communicator and remain relevant in a social organisation. Between now and the conference, I hope to publish some posts giving a flavour of what I’ll present … well hope springs eternal!

In conversation: social media and corporate culture

The fourth in the series of in conversation with Red Sky Vision talking about social media and corporate culture. It’s quite long (6 mins: 53 sec) but I think it’s quite interesting (I would wouldn’t I 🙂 ).

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In conversation: social media and the BT Intranet

The second in the series of in conversations with Red Sky Vision – this time a short sound bite or two about why we introduced social media onto the BT Intranet (this one is much shorter … only 1 min 20 sec 🙂 ).

In conversation with Richard Dennison – Social Media and the BT Intranet from Red Sky Vision on Vimeo.

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In conversation: the importance of social media in a business context

Following the great feedback received for Red Sky Vision’s fantastic Social Media @ Work video, I was looking through the interview footage of me which didn’t make it into the final film (there was quite a lot of it because when you get me started on social media it’s impossible to shut me up!) … and wondered if it might be possible to make these cuttings into a series of short videos – it seemed a shame to waste them and recycling is so important these days!

So, Red Sky worked their magic and the result is six short films entitled: In conversation with … in which I get to stand atop my soapbox and spew forth on various topics. The films vary in length and, because they are swept up from the cutting room floor, they are a bit bitty at times. Nonetheless, I hope you find time to watch and enjoy them … 🙂

The first video is some of my random views on the importance of social media in a business context.

In conversation with Richard Dennison – Why is social media important in a business context from Red Sky Vision on Vimeo.

[If for any reason you can’t see the embedded video above, you can view it on the Vimeo site]

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You can’t run and you can’t hide … from Sharepoint 2010

It’s true … you can’t run, and you can’t hide. The inexorable roll out of Sharepoint 2010 (SP2010) is about to begin in earnest. From my brief and unscientific poking around on our trial instance, it looks like SP2010 answers many of the niggling questions I had about SP2007 – particularly in the user-generated content (UGC) space. The enhancements Microsoft has made to the social functionality compared with SP2007 are significant – better blogs, better wiki functionality, beefed-up personal profile and social networking-type functionality (within the constraints of the SP environment of course) all integrated into one platform … good stuff.

As it looks increasingly inevitable that SP2010 will power a significant portion of our intranet going forward – including our social media functionality – I should be excited … and I am … sort of … and sort of not.

I’m not sure why, but the prospect of SP2010 powering our social content leaves me feeling slightly depressed. It may just be that I’ll be sad to see all the lovely social tools I so lovingly helped to nurse into the business being replaced by the SP monolith … or it may be something deeper … more intuitive. I can’t help feeling that we’re going to lose something fundamental by institutionalising … or even corporatizing … our social tools in this way. While I always wanted our social and collaborative content to be fully integrated into the mainstream way of working inside our organisation, this wasn’t how I had imagined it would happen – it appears you just can’t please some people.

On the other hand, this could be the best thing to happen to corporate social content since its conception … and I may just be an old social media dinosaur … I guess only time will tell.

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Musical chairs …

Wow … has it REALLY been that long since I last posted?? 😦

In my defence, we’ve just finished a high-stakes game of musical chairs in my bit of BT – when the music stopped, there were 25% fewer chairs to sit on and they were arranged in a different way.

I had to dust off my CV and have a job interview for the first time in more years than I care to mention … fortunately, I secured one of the new chairs upon which my butt is now firmly placed … to recover from the experience, I had to take two weeks off!

Anyway, I’m now responsible for managing a group of business partners in a channels centre of excellence team providing channels expertise to the communications community in BT.

The major downside to this is that I’m having to hand over all my lovely social media toys to Mark Morrell, the BT Intranet Manager 😦 I’m sure he’ll love and nurture them as if they were his own … and if not, I’ll be waiting for him in a dark alley one night when he least expects it!

Although I no longer have the luxury of majoring on social media in BT, I am still very involved … we’re actually doing some really interesting pilots engaging with our customers in on-line forums … and Twitter is also on the radar screen which is really exciting.

In recent weeks, there has been a huge amount of interest in engaging with customers and stakeholders externally in social channels from different bits of the company … we’re taking it slowly and not biting off more then we can chew. The great thing about this enthusiasm is that it’s coming from unexpected quarters and from people who seem to get it. I’m optimistic that we are doing, or plan to do, the right things … time will tell.

Anyway, one of my final parting shots as social-media-guy was to re-write our social media guidelines. If you’re interested, take a look (downloads a PDF file; some of the links in it pointing to BT Intranet pages obviously won’t work).

I plan to keep blogging … if you can call my poor performance over recent weeks blogging! Must do better …

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Context is everything with intranet content

One of the things that I can’t tell people enough when talking about user generated content in an enterprise setting is that users MUST understand the context of the information they are consuming. For example, they must know how it was created, who created it, who edited or contributed to it etc … because this vital contextual information will determine how they can re-use it, how reliable it is, how new it is and so on …

As more and more pages on the BT Intranet contain user generated content, we tried to figure out a good way to differentiate those pages from the more traditional, formal content pages. This is what we’ve done.

For some time now, all our intranet pages have had a global navigation bar at the top of them. This bar helps BT people to identify when they are on the official intranet – with all the guarantees/service levels etc. that this implies – rather than the internet or unofficial under-web pages. It also means that a user can never get lost as they always have a way back to the top or to the most popular pages and applications on offer. The standard navigation bar looks like this:

BT Intranet global navigation bar

BT Intranet global navigation bar

We decided to make a variant of this bar to put above pages containing user generated content – we changed the colour and added a Disclaimer link. We’ve also added a new icon to these pages. The user generated content navigation bar looks like this:

BT Intranet navigation bar for user generated content

BT Intranet navigation bar for user generated content

The new icon for user generated content is this:

User generated content icon

User generated content icon

Both the Disclaimer link on the new bar and the icon above link through to a page on BTpedia which explains what user generated content is, what its limitations are, and guidance on how it can be used and what to avoid doing with it.

The new bar is being piloted on Blog Central and BTpedia linked to an on-line form for user feedback. It’ll be interesting to see what users think.

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What are we up to now …

Sorry for the long silence … I’ve been busy doing stuff and then had a week’s leave. So what are we up to right now …

  • we’re reviewing, re-writing and re-launching all our intranet standards, including Web 2.0 stuff
  • we’re applying our intranet governance standards to the new content types we defined for our intranet going forward – again, including the new user-generated content
  • I’m about to start some formal internal comms around blogging – both internal and external
  • we’re looking at options for more formal external blog monitoring
  • we’re looking at options for user-generated content on
  • we’re re-launching Podcast Central to feature video more prominently
  • we’re looking at options for social tagging – sounds like IBM has a great widget for this (love to learn more if anyone knows more about it!)
  • trying to figure out imaginative ways to get people using our new social network – as well delivering new features/functionality to integrate it into people’s work more fully
  • I’m thinking about organising a pan-BT social media event in October to get those intersted in this stuff from across the company together to share knowledge and experience and agree coherent ways forward in the future … I would prefer a face-to-face gathering but money is tight and travel restrictions may prevent this happening …

Thanks for the feedback about the video post … might try it again if I can think of an interesting topic to rant on about!