Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Twitter story of #SMiLELondon and beAppy 2014

SMiLE London - Social Media inside the Large Enterprise by simply-communicate, part of Social Media Week London.

Over 200 internal communicators joined the conference at the prestigious St. Paul's etc venue on 25th September. Many followed the event virtually. 

The hashtag #SMiLELondon became trending topic in the UK.

Read the Storify or watch the Twitter story via the Slideshow format.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

SMiLE and beAppy - Mobile apps inside the enterprise

If there is something true about SMiLE - Social Media inside the Large Enterprise - is that the whole phenomenon evolves incredibly fast. What we were seeing just a year ago, appears almost old-fashion today. Yet, we are in a period of transition and probably we have only scratched the surface of digital transformation.

Forward-thinking organisations are able to come up with innovative solutions to make life easier and more productive for their workforce. Today, one of the key ways to achieve greater collaboration and concrete results is through of use of enterprise apps. While they don't solve all your problems, within a digital workplace environment they can deliver simpler, faster, more functional, and engaging communications. As Stowe Boyd puts it:

"People are moving to tools that let them have more bounded, social and smaller-scale interactions. Depending on their projects and needs they can switch easily from one context to another one.

"These tools are generally very context-bounded. Rather than interacting about everything going on within the business, people talk about the specific topic they are working on. We do that fifty times a day. It’s very different from the type of communications that we can have with the rest of the company on one ESN."

Using apps for internal comms

Ciara O'Keeffee, VP Client Success at Beem and author of the SMiLE Guide on Using Apps for Internal Communications,   talked at our SMiLE Webinar this week:  

"Can we still refer to mobile as ‘the next stage’? I think we’re already firmly on our way. Mobile has been the buzzword for a number of years in the consumer digital sphere but it’s now becoming more and more important inside the enterprise. Employees, who are also consumers, now expect to have access to the same quality of tools and resources as they do in their non-work life."

beAppy at SMiLE London

Yes - this new generation of enterprise tools is here and real. That is why at simply-communicate we wanted to include an App Fair, beAppy at our SMiLE London conference next week.

beAppy exhibits some of the newest and high-potential applications available out there. A chance for attendees, but also all our readers and people following us via social media, to know more about what IC apps could do to improve their collaboration efforts.

If you are thinking of adopting apps inside your enterprise or would like to find out what benefits they could bring to your work, looking at these applications may be a good start. Here is a brief review of how each social tool would help to solve specific business problems and drive innovation, what their features are and what type of work they are able to support.


@jamespot - Jamespot is an enterprise social network publisher and provider of a collaborative platform in SaAS mode (Software as A Service). In their belief that the various uses of the web have reached the world of business, guiding it towards a new form of governance, Jamespot now supplies local authorities, public administrations, large companies, as well as SMEs and French organizations who wish to encourage social networking in their field.

The particular advantage of the Jamespot solution is its adaptability for each organisation: it is interoperable with workplace applications, taking on the design of the company which it represents, and gives added value to the information through the social graph. The goal of Jamespot is to offer organizations a high-performance communication and management tool with measurable added value for all, by simplifying management and collaborative work.


@YUDU - Distance is no longer a barrier to providing clear, regular, up-to-date communication both online and offline. Distribute internal publications through a secure branded app, which can be downloaded and accessed on all mobile, tablet and desktop devices.

YUDU technology works alongside existing Intranets to make sure employees have access to the latest documentation. Currently being used by companies such as KPMG and Whirlpool, whose closed-access apps can only be accessed by their employees. A comprehensive analytics package enables communications teams to study employee engagement and communicate more effectively.


@Collaborne - Collaborne combines personalisation, peer-to-peer communication, mobility, and big data search into a private, intuitive, and easy-to-use digital corporate communication platform.

Built to act on an organisation's communication rules and objectives, Collaborne matches content and information with people in an entirely personalised way, letting companies to boost employee engagement, collaborate effectively, and ensure everyone has access to the information they need to accomplish their work. With minimal setup and intuitive user-interface, organisations can rollout Collaborne in no time. The solution is accessible from any computer or mobile device, wherever, whenever.

@Wearebeem - The Beem app provides an enterprise mobile content service, which takes the legwork and duty out of engaging with company content and tasks. Beem empowers companies to digitise their existing internal communications channels and material, along with external social media feeds and content, in one engaging mobile platform. The app excels in the area of multi-platform aggregation, white-label abilities (customisation) and mobile-first approach.

It integrates with systems such as SharePoint, Yammer, Chatter, as well as custom-built intranets and ESNs. Companies also have visibility over the performance of their current content channels via adetailed analytics suite. Beem is currently available on iOS and Android devices. A HTML5 version, which will service all other devices, will be available later this year.


@Speakap - Organizations with part-time personnel, multiple locations, flexible shifts and high turnover, experience difficulties in informing and connecting with their personnel at the work floor.

Speakap connects people throughout the entire organization and facilitates top-down and bottom-up information flows in an user-friendly and familiar way. Hereby, employees are informed better, faster and more satisfied about communication with colleagues and management. To make Speakap a must-have application, they integrate their platform with multiple business software through our advanced open API.


@_seenit - Seenit is a platform that allows brands and organisations to create engaging videos with their audiences. Individuals can collect and curate clips, using an online studio linked to a smartphone app and turn the content quickly into professional videos.

Seenit's network of experienced filmmakers can assist organisations throughout the production and sharing of the content. Whether it is capturing the lead up to an event or the event itself from all angles, include employees, fans and experts in the creation of your video, the possibilities are endless.


@VENNCOMM - BLAP, VENNCOMM’s mobile group conferencing App, is the easiest and cheapest way to make instant, mobile, free business-grade international group calls. Imagine a scenario whereby an internal chat conversion is automatically turned in to a group phone call at the touch of a button.

Having already built an integration with Salesforce (and with plans to integrate with Chatter) VENNCOMM are exploring the enterprise social network (ESN) space to determine if voice has a part to play in supporting collaboration, content creation, communication and culture.

The App Garden

@TheAppGarden - The App Garden transforms the way organisations conduct business through multiple mobile channels by developing custom-built mobile app software solutions across the enterprise for selected industries. Their growing team of mobile website and app developers, graphic designers and mobile business experts build intuitive mobile solutions in-house at our offices based in Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey.

Their broad range of experience in the technology industry enables them to develop innovative bespoke mobile solutions, tailored to the needs of a business. Based upon our technology advances in the mobile space and knowledge within select industries, we have developed a range of multi- channel mobile solutions, including two internal communication solutions; StaffTrain and StaffConnect.

Sideways 6
Sideways 6  - Sideways 6 is a new online Ideation and Idea management tool that helps companies harness the knowledge, creativity and experience of their employees to solve business challenges.

Driven by the principle of bringing beautiful, intuitive and integrated ideation networks to organisations of all shapes and sizes, Sideways 6 can either act as a standalone product or extend the idea management capabilities of existing enterprise social tools.


@TheAppBuilder - TheAppBuilder is helping some of the world’s leading organizations to reimagine their businesses with mobile apps that delight employees, partners and clients alike. It’s now possible to create a new and exciting communications channel in 4-6 weeks, with little or no IT involvement required. Mobile apps are easy, fast, functional, and fun. Key content can be updated by anyone in seconds, and feedback received and analysed right away.

Global brands such as Michelin, O2, Heathrow, and Sodexo are using TheAppBuilder platform to communicate very effectively with distributed, non desk-based staff. Engagement scores have gone up by more than 100% in some cases, producing a fantastic return on investment.

The business value enabled by these technologies

The enterprise app phenomenon is huge and growing. Hundreds of new applications have entered this space already. Each one with something new, and refreshing to bring to the enterprise. Yet, being a social business is still about people, behaviours and change management.

It implies an understanding of what the business is trying to achieve, the social capital of the company (social insight that includes people's motivations and rewards), and the selection of the right tools. No one-size fits all. This couldn't be truer for technology. We will continue seeing new tools coming to the enterprise, each one having something to offer.

Rather than focusing on tools and new 'cool' features, organisations may want to reflect on the business value enabled by these technologies. At simply-communicate we are committed to provide you with all the latest and relevant content on the subject as it unfolds. Most importantly, capturing how it effects your organisational communications, employee engagement and business results. 

SMiLE and beAppy with us!

To follow SMiLE London on 25th September via Twitter go to #SMiLELondon @simplycomm.

You can also watch the live streaming which will be provided by our partners at @Kinura. We we will make it available on the homepage of our site just before the conference.

This article originally appeared on simply-communicate 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Stowe Boyd predicts big changes in the enterprise

Back in 2007, he coined the terms #hashtag – yes, the popular icon that we all use in our social interactions today, as well as social tools.

He is Lead Analyst at Gigaom Research, exploring “the future of work and the tectonic forces pushing business, media, and society into an unclear and accelerating post normal era.”

In this exclusive interview, Stowe Boyd shares his view on the state of enterprise social, plus, what he believes the future of leadership is going to be.

Gloria Lombardi: You write, “the enormous scale of tools have led us to consider the world as an unbounded single network, while in fact we operate in many distributed and discontinuous social networks.” Could you explain this?

SB: The typical attitude of people discussing social networks is thinking at scale. Like in the popular theory of 6 degrees of separation, the idea is that you can direct people to a friend, who can then direct you to his friends. Ultimately, you will find your way to the senior manager in China who you have never met.

This notion of the world as one giant sphere is useful at times. Particularly, if we think of how epidemics or ideas spread through civilisations and societies.

However, the same notion is not helpful when thinking of the tools used by individuals and organisations at work. The way in which employees interact is not like epidemics. On a daily basis they think more instrumentally: I am connected with you right now for some reasons, and then I will go to interact with three and four other colleagues about another project.

While everything is bounded in the world, individuals live their work in different scales, operating and interacting through a variety of different communications.

GL: An interesting consideration. It makes me wonder of the implications for enterprise social networks (ESN). What’s your view?

SB: The idea of an unbounded social network where everyone is potentially communicating with everyone else is not helpful.

Employees are more willing to adopt different applications that help them organise that sense of scale. These tools are generally very context-bounded. Rather than interacting about everything going on within the business, people talk about the specific topic they are working on. We do that fifty times a day. It’s very different from the type of communications that we can have with the rest of the company on one ESN.

People are moving to tools that let them have more bounded, social and smaller-scale interactions. Depending on their projects and needs they can switch easily from one context to another one.

Small talk is big again…

GL: It may explain the huge uptake of enterprise apps that we are seeing at simply-communicate.

ST: Well yes. For example, chat-based apps like Slack or HipChat. But there are many more. The interesting thing is that all these applications started because developers themselves had problems they want to solve with their teams. And now, everyone in other business areas can use them on their own settings.

We are in a period of transition. Traditional collaboration tools are being slowly displaced - in some sectors, relatively quickly. It’s time for a whole new generation of contextual tools, where things are discussed and worked on in the right place, at the right time, with the right people.

Plus, these applications tend toward a very open integration model. It means you can pull information from many other tools that people can link to, comment, or edit in their own stream.

GL: Are enterprises trying to build ESN adoption on a large-scale missing something?

SB: I think they will give up at some point. Companies are trying to use ESNs to encourage their people to have a voice. But, it doesn’t need to be on one social network.

The monolithic viewpoint is falling out of favour in times when people have to innovate and frequently change their practices to deal with an unpredictable world.

Enterprises should enable their staff to choose the tools they want to use: a wider collection of tools that people can select from to get their jobs done.

As long as the applications are simple to use, employees will prefer to switch between many of them. People are increasingly capable of using multiple social tools for different uses. Externally they use Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook for different purposes. They do understand that, when switching from a context to another one, the interactions will be different.

GL: A totally new mind-set applied to internal communications and the future of work. 

SB: Yes. It is neither about Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) nor Bring Your Own App (BYOA). It’s about BYOM (Bring Your Own Mind). The way we think and operate in the world is strongly impacted by the tools that you use.

The future of work and innovation is about fluidity and flexibility.

GL: You also write extensively about leanership, describing it as the new way of leading in the 21st Century.

SB: The term is the convergence of different thoughts, including Mintzberg’s theory on emergent strategy and the agile development practice.

Leanership is about a different approach to management, one that relies on self-organized networks. Leadership becomes emergent, as individuals take on responsibility to lead a project, an activity, a task, whatever, as needed. In this new way of work, leadership is no longer a full-time jobs, but something that everyone does to a varying degree.

Google is a good example. They want that kind of skillset in their people; the ability to learn, to be curious, as well as to be willing to step up and take a leading role in some activities when they have the right skillset supporting them.

GL: Will leaders of the future embrace this concept? 

SB: Leadership will be approached in a different fashion than in the past.

There will be more demand for self-management. Employees are interested in autonomy and in managing their own work. After all, they have been hired for their abilities to invent their job. If they need to ask you for permission every time, then it will be very frustrating for them, and inefficient for the organisation.

But, there is still a role for leaders. They will set the cultural norms, pull ‘obstructions’ out of the way, and help people with their future so they can have a lasting career within the business.

This article originally appeared on simply-communicate 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Intranet – where are we Now?

Intranet Now! The UK's first un/conference for comms and intranet people was an inspiring exploration of today’s working practices.

"By intranet practitioners, for intranet managers, contributors, and internal comms people of all kinds" - Wedge Black and Brian Lamb, Intranet Now

Back in April, Wedge Black surprised the industry by deciding to launch a UK intranet conference from scratch.

"I’m just zis guy, y’know? I’m an independent freelancer, and I don’t have corporate resources at my disposal. I am an associate of a few agencies though, and I think I have a few connections, so maybe, just maybe, together we can pull something off. You and me. Us. Maybe something small and intimate this summer, maybe something bigger in 2015."

This week, together with Brian Lamb, Wedge demonstrated that magic happens when a community of passionate and dedicated professionals get together. As Intranet Focus's Martin White, summed up: "Great expectations exceeded!"

Within a packed agenda twenty speakers delivered 20-minute and 5-minute talks and case studies. Plus, there were four discussions groups, where participants could choose from nearly twenty topics.

Now, the choice of which presentations to review is not the easiest to make so here are a few personal take-aways.

The intranet is not seen as a value-created place 

Intranet veteran - and the man behind Customer Carewords - Gerry McGovern, kicked off the day with an illuminating speech on content glut. "The focus must be on quality, not quantity."

Drawn from a piece of research conducted across 50,000 employees, he pointed out that intranet content is not focused where it should be: the core value of the business and what a company does and offers, such as its products and services. According to the study, only 16% of staff see this happening in their workplaces.

Ultimately, intranets shine a light on more fundamental cultural issues within businesses that go way beyond platforms: ''intranet content doesn't want to get found", which means, "when content is findable, it generates more work for the owners."

McGovern's view? Publish less content, but in a more collaborative way; build bridges in the digital age. It includes having the intranet sitting at the centre of the organisation, understanding the user mentality, and having policies and guidelines available at the task.

"Our job is not to write news or to code, but to evangelise a culture change."

Learning from mistakes...

Through a lively presentation, Sam Marshall from ClearBox Consulting reminded us that we are on a journey. By making the most of his past mistakes, he suggested a number of tips, including:

Cultivate champions from the start, maintain a business case even when not required, and measure the before so you can demonstrate the benefits afterward;

Stop relying too much on data. "Intranets need leaders not managers. Identify who will actually take a strategy forward."

Create an intranet that reflects how the business works; at least with some parts of it looking like the organisational chart.

Keep in mind the late-adopters. Don't take for granted that pilots scale linearly - instead of expecting high level of adoption everywhere, "focus on specific communities and grow from there."

Governance should not be a set of rules but basic guiding principles to help people change behaviour. It implies encouragement, support and dialogue.

A solution is always there 

Managing a global intranet for 10,000 employees across over 90 countries can be a real challenge. It is particularly true for a charity organisation with a few resources. However, Gabriele Sani, Internal Collaboration Tools Manager at Oxfam International, showed that obstacles can be faced. For example, when looking for new solutions to help him classifying hundreds of projects on the intranet, he came across automatic testing. The software, which is low cost and low maintenance, allows him to cut down time on controlling and executing documents and tests, to focus more on understanding users.

Listen and put the user at the centre

From Michelle Baillie of The Children’s Trust, we heard the story of how she helped to develop the charity’s first intranet, the LOOP. Key was to put the users at the centre, understand their needs, and make their experience friendly: "We looked at what we already had, we surveyed, we ran focus groups, we did demos and involved our staff when launching the LOOP in April.

We made navigation easy, and kept listening because at the end of the day, your work is never done."

Mobile first

There was a general agreement for mobile to be a priority now. However, Edmund Ovington from enterprise app Beem highlighted that, "there is a gulf between rhetoric about the importance in mobile, and how quickly companies are taking advantage of it."

New applications are opening up opportunities for enterprises able to embrace them. "Mobile experience can help organizations support their social journey and boost the engagement curve." Ovington brought three key areas to attention:
  • Unified solutions - all updates in one place, with all the social business content feeding in one integrated mobile location;
  • Social workflow - getting work done while on the move;
  • Swarming collaboration - finding the right person fast and start working with them right away 

On open source

"Don't be afraid of non-proprietary platforms," said Reg Lewin, of Which? The Consumers’ Association. "To go open source means flexibility, speed and consistency."
From Lewin we learned that Which? is currently using Wordpress, Drupal and Mediawiki together, perhaps showing that a digital workplace doesn’t have to be all on one platform. "Don’t try to shoehorn your culture into that of an intranet system."

A human-centred strategy

In their talk about the role of the Intranet Manager, Elizabeth Marsh from DWG and Kate Simmons from Allen & Overy stressed the importance of having a human centred strategy for developing the digital workplace:

"...It can be difficult to change the culture of the organisation. Be prepared to challenge the status quo and to be disruptive...Be business focused rather than technology focused, talk to users, watch how they work, understand their frustrations."

Similarly, Sharon O’Dea, Deputy Head of Digital Communications at Standard Chartered, pointed out that IT  automated the big systems. Yet, are the small inefficiencies that often irritate people on their daily job.

"Deliver business value by meeting your organisational needs. Design for your own users not general users. Spend time in your community to understands them."

Jessie Punia of IBM talked about realness, "employees want to see the real side of their leaders." Plus, reminded as of the importance of trust among peers. As we learned from Edelman Trust Barometer, employees and want to hear from each other. "They want a voice, to be listened to and to have access to the people who can deliver their ideas."

Mature social businesses keep moving forward

The conference was also an opportunity to catch up with Kim England, Head of Internal Community and Collaboration at Pearson. She was on stage at our SMiLE London in March talking about their Jive-based employee social network, Neo.

Since then, the team at Pearson have been incredibly busy. "We've upgraded Neo from Jive 5 to Jive 7. The upgrade went very smoothly. We're really enjoying the additional functionality and tools."

An upgrade is always a lot of work: "it is a big change for the community in terms of user experience. But, it provides you with an opportunity to re-engage users with how your community can be used, drawing attention to best practice and stepping up your training efforts."

It was a significant upgrade also because they have reduced their customisation in preparation for their move to the Cloud next year.

"We have been working hard on integrating gamification into our core collaboration strategy. We have been dealing directly with our Corporate Affairs team and looking at how we can tie in missions with our core business strategy. Our first big global missions go live later this week."


During the day there were other relevant presentations and group discussions, which highlighted both challenges and possibilities for the intranet of today. Now it is up to us to make the most of the ideas and insights gained during the day and turn them into real actions.

Whatever is the state of intranets in a year's time I am certain that there will an Intranet Now in 2015 to debate and discuss the health of these channels. 

This article originally appeared on simply-communicate