ALI Conference: Chairperson’s Address

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Michael Rudnick of Watson Wyatt is the chairperson for this conference. I met him when he chaired another ALI conference, in Chicago. He did a great job facilitating that event and tying the presentations together.

We started with obligatory (I guess) safety warnings about what to do in the event of an earthquake. Not something that’s typically a big concern in southern Minnesota.

Michael’s presentation was on The Read/Write Intranet: How to Drive User Engagement and Productivity.

Employees want personal, straightforward, relevant information they can trust. They’re increasingly skeptical, though, of anything “corporate.”

They also want a “consumer-grade” user experience. They see great UI on the Web, and wonder why their companies have such a clunky interface, lousy search, and no ability to interact with (or help create) the content.

Key issues for Communicators:

  • Content – demand for immediacy and ease of publishing. Targeting content (enabling users to get the information they need, delivered to them.) Translation into non-English languages. Multi-media.
  • New technology – keeping abreast of changes
  • Operations and governance (guidelines, ROI/budgets, redundant or competing web initiatives
  • Phasing and transitioning to a new portal. Michael says communicators need to take a patient approach, and understand that it may take 3-5 years to implement a complete change.
  • Integration of third-party sites/data/content

Too many corporate intranets are in the Web 1.0 mindset, which indicates (to me, at least) that we don’t have a problem with people taking the long-term view. It’s fine to have a long view, but you need to at least start implementing some things to avoid getting bogged down.

If TechCrunch can keep busy covering start-up companies that can launch with as little as $50,000 in capital, why can’t Fortune 1000 companies fix their intranets?
Web 1.0

  1. One-to-many
  2. Preach/Spin
  3. Command & Control
  4. Formal and pre-determined

Web 2.0

  1. Multi-directional
  2. Advocate
  3. Influence and persuade
  4. Informal and dynamic
  5. Presence

Facebook isn’t “just for kids.” The over-35 demographic is the fastest growing. And large companies are saying, “So Far, So Good.” He cited a McKinsey study of companies that have adopted Web 2.0 tools, and most of them are saying they wish they would have started earlier.

Michael says that by the end of 2008:

  • At least 70 percent of companies without official support for blogs and wikis will have multiple unofficial deployments. Just because you say “no” doesn’t mean people won’t do it, just because you won’t provide the official infrastructure. They’ll form Google groups, or WordPress blogs or use other free services.
  • Enterprise social software will be the biggest new workplace technology success story of this decade.

In response to a question about using Facebook-like services for employee directories, Michael said there are several companies that offer “white label” products. He says one obstacle is that most companies would want them hosted on their intranets, fully behind the firewall. Actually, Jeremiah Owyang has a complete listing of these vendors.

Michael seems to be a big fan of Microsoft Sharepoint. You can see the demo here, but he says it doesn’t really show how you would incorporate this into your workflow to get things done. One idea he has is to have hands-on demos for whatever your technology initiative is…like the Apple store…so people can interact with your geeky “geniuses.”

That’s what Social Media University, Global is all about. Not many people will actually get to visit “Old Main,” but hopefully through the online curriculum they can get some ideas for how these tools can be used practically.

Michael’s Key Lessons:

  1. Have a strategy, vision and 18 month road map.
  2. Attain and maintain legitimacy — executive support and business case (and necessary funding)
  3. Line up content owners, provide a usable cms and continuous training and support
  4. Focus on ongoing support and resource commitment — implementation is only the beginning
  5. Thing big, start small, scale up — implement in phases — tightly prioritize and continually reassess
  6. Plan for continuous evolution — content, user interface, user preferences, software, search

We had lots of great Q&A with Michael. Please continue the conversation in the comments below.

For information about auditing SMUG classes or applying for admission, click here.

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Author: Lee Aase

Married father of six and grandfather of nine, and the Chancellor of SMUG - Social Media University, Global. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

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