intra_reloaded Intranet Conference Review
Last week, I had the great pleasure of attending and presenting at the intra.NET Reloaded event in Berlin. Subtitled “From broadcasting to collaboration”, the conference focused on the evolution of intranets from a publishing (and broadly internal communications owned-channel) into the social collaboration space that many companies are now launching. The event was very well attended, with strong representation from eBay, NASA, Wells Fargo, Pfizer, Dell and my own company.
This is the third time that I’ve attended an intranet conference in Berlin but the first to be hosted by we.Conect and the first at the nHow Hotel Berlin. Conference facilities were great: bedrooms functional (if pink), conference room bright and airy, food great. It’s a thought provoking location too given it sits on the line of the Berlin Wall.
My only gripe is the lack of free wi-fi. With free internet access, delegates can not only catch up on what’s going on in the office, but also tweet their way through the conference. The value of that additional exposure to the organisers is way in excess of the cost of providing free wifi. If you’re organising a conference, make sure this is top of your list. Second up must be the provision of power — delegates will need to charge laptops, phones and iPads. I’m delighted that the organisers have made note of both points and promised to change for 2013.
Smart thinking from conference organisers who recognised that given the start time on Day 1, most delegates would be in town the night before. They organised some great icebreaker sessions over beers and bratwurst. Great opportunity to meet fellow delegates and get a feel for the conference. For those of us who were returning to Berlin, it was great to see old faces: Darius Miranda (@dariusmiranda), Kelli Carlson-Jagersma (@NorthStar) and Mairi Willis (@calamairi) to name a few.
I’d like to see an Ignite-style presentation session as part of the Icebreaker in the future. The venue, the topic and the beer suits it.
Day 1: , Tieto, Dell, Zyncro, Coca-Cola Enterprises, eBay, Wells Fargo, e-Spirit
Enterprise social network technologies formed the heart of most if not all of the decks presented on day one. Yammer, Chatter, SharePoint and other suppliers were all well represented. It’s tough to make firm conclusions from this save for noting that big companies are recognising the power of enterprise social networks but that in every instance, it’s significantly harder than running a tech project. Company culture is vital; ensuring that there are change management programs in place to help drive the change and curate social spaces are central to long term successes.
Getting social into the workflow is critical. It must be integral, not peripheral, if it is to succeed. As Kevin Jones noted, you’ve got to “weave it into the way you work”
I was delighted to have the opportunity to demonstrate the great work that my company (and team) have delivered at Coca-Cola Enterprises. Thank you for your feedback if you were there.
Another valuable insight was presented by Dell about the types of social media. I’d not seen this interesting distinction before and it helped position the kind of work that I do (and do not do) day-to-day. Dell identified three types of social media:
- Internal Walled Garden: Tools like Yammer, Chatter and others. Entirely aimed at employees and their customer teams
- Hosted Properties: Forums and more, created and managed by a company but publicly open to customers.
- Public Social: Facebook, Twitter and more
Whilst the skills and experiences needed to manage social in these three spaces are very similar, I expect many companies are not (yet) rolling these up into the same team.
It was also interesting to see how social and digital capabilities were being deployed for somewhat more traditional internal communication purpose to great effect. The projects ran by eBay, Wells Fargo and Pfizer, were an inspiration that I hope to steal.
I can summarise a tremendous conference day as follows: “People are King, Content is the message”
Great company, great meal, good catching up. I learnt how to tell which is your bread plate and your drink ( ‘b’ for bread, ‘d’ for drink ) and that intranet and social collaboration managers have admirable drinking and dancing stamina
Day 2: NASA, Round Tables, Siemens, Deloitte
A great start to day 2 with Kevin Jones explaining the importance of failure in driving success and explicitly pointing out through a series of videos and slides, why social intranets can fail. In learning to avoid these pitfalls, we can develop more successful social intranets. As Kevin notes, “Try, fail, try again: iteration through failures the key to success”. Remember that!
World Cafe Experience
The world cafe saw conference delegates and presenters take on the role of facilitators to focus on some specific intranet challenges. Whilst I found this a valuable use of time, my regret is that there was no way of attending both ‘streams’ of the event (I attended 4 of the 8 tables) and that I was also in the same company at each table. It’s good to shake up the people a little and network deeper
The Value of Twitter and the Intranet Community
When a conference goes well, the networking and shared learning continues long after the event itself. This is tremendously valuable: it keeps the conference fresh in the minds of delegates, but also ensures practical assistance and insight beyond the 2 days.
Twitter was central to that. Despite having too long a hashtag (#intra_reloaded takes up too much space of my tweets), there was a small but growing community of tweeters at the conference. The visibletweets.com feed was great at sharing the community insight. I know that several delegates took to Twitter for the first time during the day. Be kind to them — the intranet community needs new life blood.
New content, same old people
It’s great to turn up to a conference and know you’ll hear from some great people and rekindle some valuable professional connections but equally, it’s a little frustrating to see a similar set of presenters. New insight from new conference presenters please — take a risk, invite some new faces! Test them out using the Ignite style in the evenings.
Should you attend in 2013?
Go. It’s a good one! Any conference that lives beyond the 2 days like this one does must be doing something right. Any conference hotel that offers guitars on room service has got to be worth a visit. Any conference organisers who dance and get stuck in like these folks do are well worth investing in.
Having attended three Berlin intranet conferences now, I can say that it’s on my list for 2013.