Tag: social intranet

How a Digital Workplace Empowers Employees and Trends to Watch For

Posted by on April 25, 2018

working-on-tablet

You could say that the digital working place began with telephones, intercoms, and voice recording gadgets. The benefits were in speed of communications, efficiency and lightening the labor load for the people in the organization. As office computer technology revolutionized process, the digital workplace is, in turn, revolutionizing office technology.

Many revolutions began and strengthened when people “voted with their feet” and abandoned repressive, archaic systems. The digital workplace has a component of that, because we are in an age where employees have walked away from the confines of the workplace.

So, many people want the convenience of working outside the brick-and-mortar traditional workplace, while at the same time maintaining the social and professional interaction, which makes us human.

This article describes the components and benefits of the digital working place, its challenges, and how a modern social intranet addresses those challenges.

Components of the digital workplace

The digital workplace puts the employee first and meets the following needs:

  • A seamless experience across employees’ personal devices as well as company owned
  • The avoidance of  IT configuration hassles
  • A secure divide between their personal and work-related data and to know that “Big Brother” is not watching
  • Availability of favorite new and legacy computer applications when needed without concern on how the applications get to the end-user

Challenges in adopting a digital workplace

The challenges in adopting the digital workplace, though by no means insurmountable, are inherent in its 3 key drivers:

1. The cloud:  The digital workplace cannot—excuse the pun—get off the ground without cloud-based technology. The cloud brings a new set of challenges and a decision process centered around myriad issues of security and effects on customers, to name just two. Complete adoption of a digital workplace plan must include cloud strategies that range from total cloud to a hybrid approach.

2. Mobile access: The digital workplace is connected through the tools employees use, and those tools must adhere to what managers need most: an easier way for employees to do what managers want them to do without shadow-IT workarounds. This challenge also brings up issues of device management as well as how everything works across the computer keyboard or smartphone spectrum.

3. A consensus on apps: Business apps today comprise a veritable embarrassment of riches, without the previous shrink-wrapped exorbitant costs. Employees head for the dark side of shadow-IT because doing so makes their job easier. Assessing and adapting to those workarounds are a great way to build a stronger foundation for the digital workplace.

How does the digital workplace empower employees?

The simple answer is that the digital workplace gives employees secure, unfettered, and remote access to what they need to do their job. The complicated answer focuses on the modern integrated IT solution: The digital workplace relies on strict policies, identity management, the cloud, and mobile technologies. Remote access must be secure but enable users to move across devices and from different locations. Digital workplaces can fuel business transformation.

Here are 3 examples of how enterprises can benefit from their digital workplace:

1. Financial services can improve customer service and bank operations. Financial counselors can gain secure access on tablet applications to the data they need. IT teams can remotely manage branch ATMs.

2. Retail organizations can better manage customer engagement. Employees and associates have timely product and inventory information at their fingertips. They can serve a customer from anywhere in the store via secure smartphone or company device.

3. Healthcare organizations can improve patient outcomes. Caregivers can gain access to secure patient information. They can view X-rays and patient health charts from any location, regardless of devices.

What’s ahead in 2018

Writing for CMSWire, David Roe points out that “the digital workplace conversation has made it clear we are talking about more than just a collection of technologies or apps designed to collectively improve productivity in organizations.” What digitization means in the workplace is that it is an ongoing process “with a great deal yet to be done.”

Roe describes some common digital workplace themes, which took shape in 2017 and will likely grow in prominence over the next 12 months. Highlights:

Hackers will be more active than ever

Cybersecurity threats will be compounded by the growth of remote workers and connected devices. Roe predicts 2018 “will see a spike in sophisticated cyber attacks” with a variety of unusual breaching vectors.

Workers will want the best digital tools

Technology restraints and limitations in workplace apps “could be deal-breakers when it comes to hiring and retaining staff.” Organizations will need to overcome problems of inaccessible or poor enterprise software usability. They will need to overcome the lack of integration or collaboration offered in their legacy or existing digital workplace tools.

Artificial intelligence will continue to rule

AI will continue to be invisible but pervasive. Beyond 2018, the author cites one technology guru as predicting that AI will become so fully integrated in our workplace lives “that the boundary between artificial intelligence and human intelligence will become indistinguishable.”

The Cloud will be more prominent

Workers will become ever more dependent on cloud storage. The advantages are quick information access as well as better security control. Workers need real-time data and reports for insight. They do not want to wait for a manager or the IT to produce that data.

Likewise, the cloud now minimizes security risks inherent in laptop or desktop computers. Cloud app providers “will build more native logging and audit features to help security professionals monitor and control user activity at the source.” That approach frees administrators to enforce local protocols, rather than using third-party tools.

A different paradigm of information collaboration

A workforce dominated by millennials is “on the horizon.” The internet and the resulting mobility are enabling a new paradigm. As video calling is becoming the norm for millennial customers, “video conferencing will become ubiquitous in business.”

Roe predicts that video conferencing will bridge the gap between remote teams, vendors and customers “creating stronger bonds between stakeholders.”

How the modern social intranet addresses those challenges

As discussed above, a digital workplace is about empowering the workforce to be more efficient and productive where they are. Today’s workforce is increasingly more mobile and global and no longer confined to a typical in-office workday. Employees crave the ability to work from anywhere.

A modern social intranet solution is the key part of the digital workplace strategy. It provides a means to maximize the value of employees and engage them through a virtual workspace. By connecting everyone in the organization through a single destination, a social intranet provides all the tools employees need to do their job. It also provides a platform for communication, knowledge flow and engagement.

Join us at the Digital Workplace Experience Conference in Chicago, June 18-20

Rivet Logic will partner with Liferay to showcase a collaborative digital workplace solution from June 18-20, 2018, at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago. The event will highlight the following Digital Workplace Experience Tracks:

  • Leadership, Strategy and Digital Workplace Culture
  • Employee Experience Practices
  • Digital Workplace Platforms
  • The Intelligent Workplace
  • Digital Experience Measurement and Optimization

Utilizing the Employee Experience Maturity Model to Optimize Your Enterprise Collaboration

Posted by on February 19, 2015

What comes to mind when you think of an intranet? In theory, intranets should deliver results in real time. HR should be able to easily publish new policies and other documents, marketing should be able to easily find an inside expert when researching a new technology, and sales should be able to quickly get help on a new presentation. But in reality, this usually isn’t the case.

Legacy intranets are plagued with information that can’t be optimally leveraged –1) outdated old documents, 2) static content instead of useful conversations that draw out important ideas, 3) half-baked people directories instead of rich user profiles, 4) irrelevant company news that doesn’t help get our job done, and 5) lack of mobile access.

Unfortunately, due to these issues, many organizations consider their intranet the place where information goes to die. In fact, a recent survey showed that while a vast majority of organizations have had an intranet for over five years, and over 70% also utilize social business tools (e.g. wikis, forums, messaging, etc.), almost 3 out of 4 would rate their tools as BAD.

Part of this can be attributed to the strategy and approach. Just because you have an intranet and social tools, doesn’t mean it’s a social intranet solution. Organizations need a fresh approach to this problem.

Social Intranet Strategy & Tools

First, a social intranet is multi-faceted. In addition to supporting social collaboration, it needs to support the people and their profiles, user groups, tasks, files and documents, departments, projects, and communities with an organization. An intranet must also integrate easily with other enterprise systems – ERP, CRM, WCM, cloud services, and even outside social networks. In addition, a social intranet should also support the development of custom apps as necessary.

In determining a social intranet strategy, we’ve developed the employee experience maturity model to help organizations assess their current state based on employee behaviors, and establish new targets based on corporate strategy.

Employee Experience Maturity Model

The Employee Experience Maturity Model is comprised of four dimensions – Process, Collaboration, Integration, and Content. Each can be ranked along its level of maturity, from Low to High. Based on actual behaviors and not tool features, you can measure each dimension and plot your current overall maturity level.

ee-maturity-model-2

Together, these four measurements can provide an overview of how mature an organization is at delivering effective and productive digital experiences for its employees.

Content Maturity

Organizations that are high in Content Maturity typically allow their employees to own all content, making them both content producers and consumers. They also support all media types (documents, images, video, audio, etc.), and content is easily accessible by search and faceted navigation. In addition, content is published across multiple channels, with the ability for social commentary, and personalized to individual users, teams, and departments.

On the other hand, those low in Content Maturity tend to have top-down, one way communication, where documents and textual information predominates, with the use of ad-hoc repositories and no way of indexing, tracking or searching content.

Collaboration Maturity

On the Collaboration Maturity scale, companies that rank high tend to easily support collaboration both inside and outside the organization. In addition, a variety of social and collaboration tools are used, including collaborative work spaces, comprehensive user profiles, all with social content weaved throughout and the ability to easily share and subscribe.

On the low end of the scale, email and shared drives are the dominant tools used, along with other ad-hoc tools. The people directory is incomplete, and there are no social features, such as the ability to follow people and teams or comment and rate content.

Integration Maturity

On the Integration Maturity scale, those that rank high generally use standards-based, open architecture platforms that can easily be integrated with. In addition, enterprise applications are used in intranet/portal solutions, where capabilities and interactions are exposed as services. These organizations also utilize Single Sign-On (SSO) across all applications used, along with comprehensive user profiles.

Conversely, businesses on the low end use standalone apps with separate logins, often on proprietary closed systems, resulting in silo’d repositories of content, data, and people. There’s also no employees access to customized dashboards to meet their specific needs.

Process Maturity

Businesses than are high in Process Maturity have processes embedded in their intranet and other applications, which are monitored and managed by workflows that work seamlessly across applications. In addition, analytics are used for process optimization.

Those on the low end of the scale employ ad-hoc manual processes that are only available through desktop access and often not fully documented.

Strategizing With the Maturity Model

While the Employee Experience Maturity Model provides a way to assess where your organization stands, it’s important to keep in mind that a “high” rating on every dimension isn’t required, or even desired. Organizations need to choose their targets based on individual corporate strategies.

For example, companies that focus on innovation, such as startups, may be high on Collaboration and Content, but rank lower on Process. On the other hand, a cost leader may rank high on Integration and Process, but lower on Collaboration. Even more, organizations that want to maintain a singular voice would likely rank high on Collaboration and Process, but lower on Content. Determining your organization’s priorities and choosing your targets is an important part of your overall strategy.

Click here to learn more about the Employee Experience Maturity Model.

Enabling Smarter Enterprise Collaboration Through Social Intranets

Posted by on November 19, 2013

Traditional intranets – while offering a variety of tools for improving internal communication, workforce productivity, collaboration, and more – are often seen as stuffy, boring systems that employees NEED to use, but not necessarily would WANT to use.

However, that’s all changing now. In an age where Customer Experience Management (CEM/CXM) and producing engaging digital experiences across various channels is at the top of every organization’s digital strategy list, some of that is crossing over to modern intranet solutions. Organizations are now beginning to see the importance of providing that same level of engagement to their employees that they do for their customers.

A new generation of social intranets have emerged that focus on building internal employee communities while incorporating social tools to facilitate knowledge sharing, employee interaction and feedback, and team-building and collective problem solving.

Over the last few months, we’ve presented on this hot topic at several events, including two webinars, two Liferay Roadshows, the Liferay North America Symposium, and KMWorld Conference. Let’s take a deeper look at how a social intranet solution can be used to facilitate smarter enterprise collaboration.

Social Communication is Critical – From Internet to Intranet

Looking at the history of social media in general is important in helping us understand why social features have become an essential part of today’s intranets. Most of us were around before social media and remember when it all first started. As with any new technology, there was some initial resistance. However, it was interesting to see how quickly people naturally gravitated towards using social media and embraced the openness that came with it.

Fast-forward to today and you see users worldwide that are socially active. This proves that the need for social interaction is not cultural, but rather it fulfills a natural human need – the need to share, to discover new things, and to be connected to one another. This is why social media has become an essential part of our internet experience today.

Naturally, companies have caught on to this, and Web applications and services that provide social features started sprouting up globally. In fact, it’s hard to find a successful Web application nowadays that doesn’t incorporate social features to some extent.

However, for a while, social interactions were kept out of the workplace, and employees would change their behaviors to fit within the constraints imposed by their employers. And those who were initially rejected for rallying for social interaction within the workplace were the same visionaries that saw the benefits – as a tool for providing constructive feedback, and to help employees be more efficient, hence improving productivity.

This initial resistance to social interaction within the workplace was no different from the resistance from internet users when social media was first conceived. Intranets are changing, and organizations leading that change are already reaping the benefits.

The Social Intranet

So what makes an intranet social? Unlike the public internet, intranets are trickier, since there are usually a lot of organizational rules to follow, many of which go against the essence of being social. Here we will cover some common features of a social intranet.

Intuitive

First and foremost, it has to be easy to use. Just like social applications on the internet, social intranets shouldn’t require user training. Nowadays, people learn how to use Web tools by talking to each other about it. While the availability of online help resources is always useful, discussion forums teach users a lot more.

Light Community Management

One of the biggest obstacles that get in the way of social intranet adoption are an organization’s existing anti-social rules, such as policing all content. Imagine if every time you posted a forum question someone had to review and approve it before it gets posted. Chances are, you’d never ask anything. Instead of being policed, social intranets should be moderated, where users can post freely, and processes can be put in place to correctly handle improper posts. This also means that some organizations would need to change their company culture and rules prior to adopting a social intranet.

Content is Produced and Consumed

Another key difference between social internet and social intranet apps is that consumers of content are as important as producers of content. We tend to always praise producers and call consumers leeches. This isn’t the case in social intranets, however, since it’s the consumers who are the ones using this content to be more efficient and productive at work. Producers without consumers are useless.

Integrated Search

And last but not least, social intranets tend to be heavy on enterprise search. Discovery is an essential social feature, and search is one of the best tools for enabling discovery, so great social intranets typically put a lot of emphasis on integration with enterprise-wide search solutions.

The change is here, and early adopters are reaping the benefits. In fact, a recent research report published by Nielson Norman Group on social intranets has found that many companies see intranet information sharing and other social features offering true competitive advantages. And more interestingly, many executives recognize that social tools are an expected part of a knowledge worker’s standard toolkit.

Building a Social Intranet – Now What?

Building a successful social intranet means selecting the right tools for the job, and Liferay Portal is one of the best tools to take on this task. Liferay provides all the social intranet features discussed in two ways – through Liferay Social Office or as a tailored social intranet built on the Liferay platform.

Liferay Social Office

Liferay Social Office is a packaged social collaboration solution that successfully addresses many social intranet features.

  • Dashboard – A dashboard is an essential part of any social intranet and offers a great way to keep users informed of what’s going on.
  • Sites – Liferay has site-based architecture, allowing organizations to create sites that serve very different purposes – departmental sites, project and team sites, and even regular websites with editorial content.
  • Contact Center – A big part of social communication is to stay connected, so social intranets put a lot of emphasis on having an easy-to-use people directory. Liferay successfully addresses this through Contact Center, which even includes user profiles in search results.
  • Team Calendar – Liferay’s calendar feature can be used in any site to manage site-specific events.
  • Search – Liferay enables enterprise search through integrations with Apache Solr, Google Search Appliance, Endeca, and more, allowing you to make enterprise-wide information discoverable from within the social intranet.
  • Liferay Sync – Liferay addresses the growing need for ubiquitous file sharing through Liferay Sync, a feature similar to Dropbox/Google Drive. In addition, your enterprise security constraints are honored even when you’re outside of your company’s firewall.
  • Related Content – This feature allows content authors to associate content of different types, resulting in a very rich and dynamic information architecture. For example, reader of a blog post who then posts a relevant question in a forum can relate the blog and forum posts, exposing future blog post readers to the forum posts.

Even more, Liferay Social Office has additional social features such as micro-blogging, private messaging, announcements and alerts, full-featured document management, comments and ratings, and much more.

Custom Social Intranet Solution

Another approach to building a Liferay-based social intranet is to create a custom solution utilizing Liferay as a platform. One of the most popular Liferay use cases is actually a Human Resources (HR) Portal, which is often the first step towards building a social intranet. An HR Portal provides an efficient means of disseminating company information and news, and offers an ideal medium for employee outreach and engagement.

Over the past few years, Rivet Logic has built a variety of intranet solutions for customers with varying business models. Through working with these customers and understanding their requirements for these intranets, we’ve found certain features to be commonly sought across all intranet solutions. Based on these features, we’ve built an open source HR Portal that we’ve contributed back to the Liferay community, now available through the Liferay Marketplace. This easy-to-deploy portal solution comes with many useful features, including:

  • Corporate news authoring and publishing
  • Customizable news publishing channels
  • User-friendly people directory
  • Customizable portal-wide main navigation bar
  • Smart news carousel
  • Customizable quick links

Choosing the Right Approach

So how do organizations determine which approach to use for their social intranet? Liferay Social Office is Liferay’s equivalent to Sharepoint, so it may be better suited for organizations that like what they’re getting out of the box and aren’t looking for a tailored solution.

Those looking for a more tailored solution can either use the HR Portal as a starting point and build an intranet on top of it, or use Liferay as a platform and build an intranet from scratch. The bottom line is, there is no right or wrong approach, but rather determining what each organization needs and finding the approach that best fits with those requirements.

Learn More!

If you’d like to learn more about social intranets, we have several resources to help you gain a better understanding: