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Intra.NET Reloaded Berlin 2018 Review

It’s that time of the year again – the 7th Intra.NET Reloaded Berlin took place at KOSMOS Cinema featuring 350+ attendees allocated to more than 70 keynotes and interactive sessions. 2,5 days of extensive networking between intranet, enterprise communication and digital workplace experts are behind us. Let’s raise the curtains and have a closer look on what happened during the conference.

The official conference kickoff was scheduled for Thursday, but the first interactive sessions already took place a day before. Besides the traditional Icebreaker Roundtables that took place at the Spreespeicher location, Prof. Dr. Thorsten Riemke-Gurzki from the Stuttgart Media University held the Pre-Conference Workshop addressing the question how to design a positive employee experience for intranets. The professor for web technology, intranet and usability discussed how “the perfect” employee journey and experience should look like and how decision makers can prevent excessive personal digital demand for employees.

The Take-Off

The first official conference day offered a huge number of presentations by true industry leaders so the KOSMOS Cinema opened its doors quite early at 7:15 AM to welcome the first attendees. Roughly an hour later conference director Anastasia Trubnikova grabbed the microphone to give a warm welcome to the attendees and introduce the conference chair for Day 1, Jenny Kalenderidis, VP and General Manager EMEA at Kaltura. She carried Kaltura’s tradition of guiding the attendees through the Intra.NET Reloaded – last year Kaltura Co-Founder Michal Tsur was chairing the event.

See the conference opening video here:

After the brief introduction, Jenny asked Jane McConnell from Net Strategy JMC onto stage to hold the opening keynote “Readiness in the Digital Age”. Every organization wants to survive the digitization, but Jane posed the pertinent question if every organization and their people have the capabilities and mindset to evolve and succeed in the digital age. For her it is important to build inclusiveness and openness in the workforce to foster digital readiness. Companies have to develop leadership from any level and any part of the organization that results in change. Jane’s keynote received overwhelming feedback by the audience – no wonder as she is a renowned expert in the industry. Prior to the conference we sat down with Jane for an exclusive interview, you can read it here.

After her presentation Jane passed the baton to Maximo Castagno, Chief Product Officer at Beezy. He set a statement that should be affirmed by many more speakers in the course of the conference: “The next wave of Innovation in enterprise software won’t come from new tools, but from better ones”. Don’t roll out one new tool after another – try to improve existing ones and solve bugs. It’s the intelligence infused in the tools that matters.

Maximo also shared the requirements for a decent intranet platform. First it needs a powerful engine, means a strong API or SDK. UX should meet modern user expectations in order to reduce the number of mandatory trainings to complete. Again it’s important to have the right technology mix the will trigger a breakthrough. Technologies like Big Data, AR, VR, NLP and Machine Learning do already exist – now it’s on us to combine them properly.

Next up was Ogilvy Group Director of Innovation and Transformation Yuri Aguiar who gave several practical lessons for a successful digital transformation. He urged decision makers to pay attention to the following rules:

– Understanding your audience
– Discipline and focus
– Hire captains, not kings: captains participate and are part of the team while kings only delegate, not being part of the process
– Cope with unintended consequences: “plans are nothing; planning is everything” (famous Eisenhower quote)
– Take offs are optional, landings are mandatory: finish your projects!
– Good execution eats strategy for lunch

With the question on what to do to create a culture of innovation within teams, Yuri released the audience into the first coffee break.

Taking the corporate tube towards lunch

Following the short refreshment break Dan Thomsen from Wizdom challenged the attendees’ mind with his keynote on the challenge of leveraging your intranet to the next level. In this context next level means handling up-to-dateness of content, meeting policies and guidelines plus managing groups, teams and sites in Sharepoint. An intranet must be held alive and administrated, otherwise nobody in the company will use it. Dan’s idea is to make it as easy as possible for editors to post content. Personalized dashboards on one centralized platform would help people to post and find relevant information Content must be tagged in order to define the relation between information and whom it is useful for. If new content goes online relevant persons would be notified according to their preferences. Lastly, users should be anonymized to meet the upcoming GDPR requirements.

The last presentations before lunch break were held by the World Food Programme, our partner movingimage and Latvian Railway. First and latter both presented NN/g award-winning intranet platforms that appeared rather simple in terms of user experience. But these examples exactly show that simplicity is one of the key factors for a successful and well-adopted intranet.

movingimage Lead Solution Architect Rainer Möller pointed out the importance of video content as it is an authentic, emotional, comprehensive and memorable way of transferring knowledge. In order to make corporate video a tool capable of challenging daily searches like football highlights, device test reports, DYI instructions etc. companies need to globalize the way employees use video. This global perspective includes the following aspects:

– Single point of search (Full text search, indexing metadata, related videos based on keywords)
– Available for everyone (Central user authentication authority; role-based access control)
– Works in any environment (All devices and browsers; suitable for BYOD, MDM)
– Ability to contribute (Upload user generated content, rate, comment and share content)

He introduced a central video hub – a “Corporate Tube” – as the solution to enable moderated and easy contribution of relevant knowledge throughout the enterprise.

Food coma? No way!

After a well-deserved lunch and networking break the attendees spread over 3 streams with different presentations by companies such as Royal DSM, Lorenz Services, Bosch, Schaeffler and Rightpoint. In Stream 2 Alexander Fritsch from Bosch showcased the next level of digital storytelling on the intranet. Creating a highly personalized news and discussion platform for well over 200,000 people is a monumental task – Bosch strongly focused on customization when relaunching their intranet “Bosch Zünder Online”. Its homepage shows an automatic selection of news based on the individual user account data. Every user has his or her own news stream called “My Stories” where they find pages based on their preferred hashtags. Alexander shared that the most read (and discussed) stories are those on corporate strategy, global trends and technologies.

The second presentation round of the afternoon was dominated by solution studies. This time Ayfie, nteam, and novaCapta share their vision on the digital worklplace of tomorrow. Ayfie e.g. addressed the task of utilizing the huge amount of unstructured data in enterprises. Information from chats, calendar entries and websites can be used much more efficiently by means of tools like NLP, Machine Learning and Indexed Search.

It’s striking that most companies work with Microsoft Sharepoint when building their intranet platforms. In this context, it came as a sensation when Kathrin Fischer from Schaeffler entered the main stage and said: „We are working with the ESN Jive”. She showed how Schaeffler managed to transfers social principles to business use cases to improve and enhance their employees’ performance with the new intranet “Schaeffler CONNECT”. Latter is the result of more than 3 years of dedicated work and is on these 5 principles:

1) Intranet and social network in one platform
2) Access for all employees worldwide on all Schaeffler devices
3) Every piece of content is fit to be liked, commented, rated, shared & followed
4) Central governance, but decentralized content administration
5) Standard software with as little customization as possible

With the stream sessions coming to a climax the Intra.NET Reloaded rang in its interactive part. This year the event mounted up with 8 workshops and 10 Challenge Your Peers Roundtables featuring experts from organizations like Siemens, Otto Group, thyssenkrupp, Schneider Electric, Allianz, Boehringer Ingelheim, Scania and the Harvard Business School.

Loaded with tons of insights from interesting discussions the conference attendees gathered at the plenary for the last keynote of the day held by Bianca Rudnjanin and Sven Olschewski from Continental. Similar to Bosch the task was to restart – and maintain – an intranet for around 230,000 people. This includes training for approximately 1,400 editors and deliverance of content in 15 languages. To achieve this goal the team founded the Continental Intranet Council to establish intranet governance.

Intra.NET Award: Reloaded

Together with her chair conference director Anastasia wrapped up the first conference day and announced the last agenda point – the Intra.NET Reloaded Award sponsored by SAP. This year the Intra.NET Reloaded team came up something really special: according to the event name the award theme was Matrix Reloaded. The decoration included green binary codes, red and blue pills (those were just M&M’s, sorry) and white wigs like those worn by the twins in the movie. The award jury of esteemed advocates from the Intra.NET community honoured exceptional projects in the areas UX Design, Personalization and Content Distribution as well as the best collaboration tools to support business processes.

Winner in the category UX Design, Personalisation and Content Distribution:
1. Rijn Rissel
2. Buko
3. Berner Group

Winner in the category Best Collaborative Tool / Ecosystem to Support Business Processes:
1. Ørsted A/S
2. RHI Magnesita
3. Keolis

Winner of the Intra.NET Special Jury Award 2018:
1. MAM Babyartikel
2. Continental
3. Merck

Read more about the Intra.NET Award 2018 here:

The award ceremony (and party) ended around midnight when the last people left the Kosmos to get some well-deserved sleep or to enjoy the Berlin nightlife after a long conference day.

Take 2 – Action!

Naturally some of the attendees had a slight hangover when taking their seats again at 8:30 in the morning. But that quickly changed when Day 2 chair Jeff Willinger jumped the stage. He started a few laola waves and told a story about him beating Michael Jordan at a Basketball game. When he finally showed his colorful Sharepoint socks everybody lost the last bit of fatigue and was ready for more insights and discussions.

As soon as everybody had woken up Jeff asked Alberto Pedraz, Senior Director Digital Workplace at Adidas, on stage. Alberto presented some interesting examples of how Adidas uses digital workplace principles to improve the employee experience. Once in a month employees take part in a short responsive survey about their likelihood to recommend Adidas as a company called the “People Pulse Check”. Additionally Alberto introduced “myARENA”, an innovative campus to test physical and digital workplace concepts. The idea is to create a workplace in which employees can seamlessly connect, communicate and collaborate in real time and across all devices. The campus also provides areas to relax and to do physical activities.

Next Jenny Kalenderidis entered the stage once more – but this time not as a chair but as a case study presenter. She focused on the role of AI within the digital workplace and urged the audience: It is not enough to just get some new tools and virtualize every process. AI should empower employees to collaborate better than ever before. The goal is find the right balance between goal-oriented data and the human touch. That is an aspect of AI that gets lost quickly with all the hype going on around digitization.

Streaming through day 2

Just like on the first conference day the participants had the chance to decide between 3 different streams. Stream 1 in the plenary started with Evgeny Victorov from Gazprom Neft who spoke about knowledge management at Gazprom and the task of catching up with much older competition in terms of knowledge processing. For him knowledge management means a set of organizational and technological operations to support knowledge flow. At Gazprom information undergoes 3 stages: first it transformed into expertise and becomes knowledge. Later this knowledge is transferred to other persons before it develops to a standard for everybody. To foster the knowledge supply chain Evgeny and his team try to transfer good regular life habits to knowledge management.

Stream 2 covered presentations by Bonnier Broadcasting, Airbus and Accenture. Matthias Selg from Airbus for example brought into play some interesting ideas to realize a user centric intranet. Different colors show different news levels (group, division, community) to give the users the chance to filter relevant content quickly. The intranet also provides matchmaking for reverse mentioning which is a good example how AI can be integrated in today’s intranets.

Also worth mentioning is Martin Bayton from Accenture, as he was the only speaker who deeply went into the topic intranet search. He answered the question why corporate intranet search engines are not working as well as Google. Documents in intranets are not written just to found – they are written for business purposes. They are located in disparate areas and contain various formats, whereas Google is only built on HTML. Moreover intranet search engines do not have specific search algorithms. In order to tackle the corporate frustration over intranet searches Martin presented a 4 part plan:

1) Find a data acquisition plan (provide access to documents users expect to find)
2) Develop a content processing strategy (enrich documents with metadata so they can be found)
3) Apply query processing
4) Search engine tuning (by means of analytics)

Shortly before lunch Anastasia asked the conference attendees to come the plenary once more – the World Café sessions were right ahead! At 12:20 AM we rang the bell for the first 2 rounds with 15 roundtables moderated by intranets experts from Bombardier, Pfizer, Clariant, Sharepoint Community, AstraZaneca, Deutsche Post, Deutsche Telekom, McKinsey and more. An hour later the delegates came together for the lunch break to gather new strength for the home stretch of the Intra.NET Reloaded.

Dancing over the finish line

Another 3 World Café rounds later our chair Jeff announced the last two presentations of the conference held by Schneider Electric and Amadeus IT Group. Hans-Jürgen Sturm from Amadeus forged a nice link to one of the first presentations by Beezy as he reminded the audience to not just introduce new tools without any further purpose. New tools are nice, but we have to change the way we work to carve out major advancements. It’s not enough to present the users a new intranet – you have to connect your workforce with the tool.

Amadeus managed to drive intranet engagement by running games in connection with the platform. In total there were 22 challenges to complete by the users. Each achievement was rewarded with points. That way the company accomplished to animate employees to use and discover different functionalities of their intranet. Like other speakers before Hans-Jürgen assured that new technologies are already there, we just need to learn how to use them properly. The digital transformation enables new opportunities – it is on us to define to what extend these opportunities will impact our lives.

Like several times before Jeff had the last word of the conference – almost. He bid farewell to the Intra.NET Reloaded community and showed off some dance skills to the sound of Get Down Tonight. Then Anastasia took the stage one last time to send some warm words to the community before boarding the plane towards Boston and the next Intra.NET Reloaded Event.

And that’s it from the Intra.NET Reloaded 2018 in Berlin. A big thank you to anybody who participated in the event - our speakers, partners, attendees and our team! See you again next year!