Trends in digital workplace at IntraTeam Event 2017 in Copenhagen

This year over 200 people from 16 countries took part in IntraTeam Event in March 2017 in Copenhagen. They were mainly from Europe, but also from the US. We could listen to speakers from BBC, Harvard Business School, UNICEF, Virgin Trains, Pandora, Siemens, Swisscom, and ING. Among tens of presentations I was able to attend only some, because they were shown at the same time in a few rooms. Additionally, there was also an expo where you could check intranets and talk to the representatives of companies that support organizations in their implementation.


3 points which were strongly visible at IntraTeam Event 2017:
1.    Microsoft as a main supplier of the intranet
2.    mobile apps
3.    chatbots
I decided to choose 3 presentations I liked the most that present the directions of the digital workplace development.

Microsoft SharePoint
SharePoint dominates among intranets. Recent State of the Sector report by Gatehouse also pays attention to that fact.
An excellent solution and approach to the digital workplace based on SharePoint was presented by Morten Dal, Global Intranet Manager at Pandora. Before they implemented Infora intranet, there was a small intranet in their HQ in Denmark. Other branches around the world used different platforms. Within the last 5 years the company observed the growth in a number of employees by 400%. Currently, they employ almost 18 000 people. It was necessary to implement a new, global solution.  
Infora intarnet (mobile version also available) is the first part of a big digital project at Pandora. Other parts are: the implementation of OneDrive for Business, Skype for Business, Office 365, Yammer, and Windows10.

The digital workplace idea at Pandora

As we can see, it is the complex project with a big chance of creating the real digital workplace for their employees. And taking into consideration the approach of Morten’s team during the Infora implementation, chances for success are very big.  
The Infora implementation was divided into three parts. The first one was the platform itself, which was built for 13 months and cost 1/3 of the whole, a not-so-small budget. Equally big resources were assigned to the organization of many global trainings for employees and for Skype sessions, where employees could find out more about functionalities (another 1/3 of the budget). The third part was spent on an intensive promotional campaign.    
A three-person team from the HQ responsible for this project didn’t do it sitting at their desks. They joined the trainings and the campaign’s implementation traveling around the world and visiting other Pandora’s branches. They were supported by external companies.

Infora – the intranet at Pandora

Such a way of planning actions shows a strategic approach to the internal communications, where we focus not only on the implementation of a tool, but also on the buzz and on suppling the knowledge how to use it and how it may help our employees with their everyday work.
At Infora we can find news, events, the practical information about all branches, business portals, team sites, project sites, an organizational chart and a phone book. Global news is available for all employees at all branches.
Their intranet has to be ‘an one-stop shop’ where all employees can find all essential pieces of information about the company in one place. As Morten highlighted, the employees were informed that the house was built for them, but they own the rooms. An excellent idea.

Mobile apps
An interesting solution from this field was presented by Jesper Lauridsen, Senior Digital Architect at COWI. Apart from the app with corporate news from their intranet, booking system for rooms at an office and a travel management system, they also created an additional app called FieldNotes. It’s the app for their employees – engineers who monitor buildings constructions, also at height. Thanks to this app, their work is now not only faster, but also safer. Working at height outside the building, where they check its condition, they have a smartphone fastened to their belts. They can easily take a picture of e.g. a hole or a crack in the wall, add a circle around it by or an arrow to mark e.g. a crack in the wall (you can see it below on the pic) at a touch of a finger. Dictated notes are recorded on their smartphones and transformed info sentences in Word.       

Preview on the report created from the app

They have also project docs and maps in this app. Reports may be generated here as well. The app copies pics and text notes into the report automatically. Then the report may be edited easily on a computer and send to a client. A  great, practical solution built in house by the team of COWI.  

Check the video about the possibilities of this app (source:

As Jonathan Seal, Strategy Director at British Mando Agency,  said, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is still treated as science fiction. But as Jonathan tried to persuade us, this future is not so time-distant. On BBC website in their article titled Will a robot take your job?, you can find if your job is to be replaced by robots. In case of an HR Assistant the prediction is about 90%, for HR Managers it is about 32%. I checked what awaits PR Specialists, because I’m in this group. Robots probably won’t replace me. The result was only 18%.
AI’ll change – and in some cases has just changed – the way we work and interact. Jonathan’s company implements such solutions in organizations. The chatbots are usually used e.g. to organize a meeting and to compare calendars of 2 employees. A chatbot of one employee talks to an employee and checks available dates for the meeting and arranges the best one, and then book a room for this meeting. The HR bot may be asked how much holiday we still have and it may book a day off  for us at once. It is also the good solution for customer departments where chatbot may answer client’s questions.   
In Jonathan’s company you can also talk to a fridge. Being more specific, to the bot which monitors the level of the execution of projects and the access to the company fridge. If everyone finishes their work till the scheduled time on Friday, the access to the fridge is granted and they can enjoy a cold beer. This bot may also disclose which of the employees blocks the access to the fridge because of being late with their work.  
Cool solutions, but still seldom used.

Preview of Jonathan’s talk to the fridge bot

The fridge that opens on Friday under a condition if everybody finishes their tasks. The level of  the work progress is visible on the screen above the fridge

Barriers for digital
After analyzing further digital solutions, we may easily come to conclusion that well-designed and properly implemented tools may help employees with their everyday communication and cooperation at work.
State of the Sector report showed that we implement new digital solutions slowly. Why? A few answers were presented by Lee Bryant from a British company Postshift. He pointed to a few problems in companies:
•    organizational structures aren’t designed for digital,
•    old organizational structures are too slow,
•    organizations aren’t flexible and agile to change their business processes,
•    companies have problems with adaptation of new solutions,
•    a product, a service and a client change faster than companies,
•    bureaucratic and central management,
•    a culture of leaders,
•    we use top-down change management.

So what should we do? According to Lee, we should combine old solutions with the new ones, focus on an agile and flexible approach, create open cultures focused on clients and use the crowd knowledge (from all employees). There is still a lot to do, but – as many companies presented at IntraTeam Event 2017 – it is possible.

IntraTeam 2018
If you are looking for trends in the digital workplace and want to listen to professionals who implemented tools in this field, this conference is a good place to listen to and talk to them. The dates for the next year’s event were announced – Feb 27-Mar 1, 2018. So you can mark your calendars just now. I truly recommend it. This conference was not only valuable, but also well-organized. I came back inspired and with many new ideas.

Graphics: IntraTeam & presentations of the speakers & my private pics