StepTwo’s webinar on their recently published Intranet Innovation awards, was great for intranet and digital workplace professionals everywhere. It provided concrete examples of great work and brought a little bit of the inspiration that their face to face events provide to the 200 attendees.

The overarching theme was of Design Thinking.

Intranet teams taking the time to understand their users and the problems they face. Then delivering innovative solutions based on their understanding of the user’s situation.

James Robertson of StepTwo hosted the webinar and outlined case studies of some of the winners of the intranet innovation awards 2014

  • MyColes staff login pin card - for use with personal emailColes supermarket chain’s release of MyColes intranet using office 365 for 100,000 staff. The release allowed staff to use their own email address (they didn’t have organisation ones) and a pin code delivered via a staff specific card. Usage was driven by staff wishing to use the service rather than via mandate.
  • University of Liverpool PC finder appUniversity of Liverpool’s ability to re-imagine an existing service, computer and desk availability. By adding one feature, GPS information on the location of the user, they provided a mobile app that worked for the students using it. The basis of the solution was a deep understanding of how the available system would best benefit the user.
  • Prophet partner dashboard - IIA2014 winnerProphet’s partner dashboard, which drew information from other systems and presented it to partners in the firm. The information facilitated decision making rather than dumping data. Again spending time with users to understand their situation and way of working paid big dividends in the final intranet solution.

James also outlined some of the other winners from the intranet innovation awards. Specifically he focused on innovative HR solutions. These covered on-boarding new employees, surfacing information from other systems through integration, and how communication can be improved through an alerts system. All were comparatively small projects with huge impact, based on designing for users rather than for senior staff sponsoring the project or those staff doing the project.

  • nne pharmaplan onboarding missionsnne pharmaplan expect to double staff in the next three years, so they looked to a three part staff on-boarding solution. The foundation was classic e-learning with specific outcomes for each of the phases. 30 days prior to staff starting, 30 days after starting and 90 days after starting. New starters gave the on-boarding programme an excellent rating of 4.7 out of 5. James reported that one country head suggested all their staff resign and apply again just so they could go through the on-boarding process because it was so good.
  • DelloiteNet's HR portal integrated these systemsDelloiteNet provided two things during the revamp on the HR section of the site for North American employees. The Alert system (mobile enabled) helped resolve the problem with un-trusted and un-clear methods for staff to be notified about business critical items. The HR portal restructure used extreme integration to ensure that staff had information from many many systems (see image to the right) available within the intranet. KEY to this being a success was that this HR project used sophisticated technology to deliver value based on understanding of the user’s needs and difficulties.
  • Telstra AU - me intranet pageTelstra redesigned ONE page within the HR section of the organisation’s intranet. For the organisation the HR team benefited from drastic decreases in queries to the HR team from staff because information for staff is made available in simple and easy to use ways to them. This work was kicked off by providing a mobile interface to SAP’s leave request form. This then got staff asking for a new skin on the poor interfaces they had to use for other HR activities.

The first half and second half of the webinar focused on Lake Woods Highschool, the Platinum award winner of the 2014 Intranet innovation awards. Louis Zulli Jr presented the overview and deep dive looks into this amazing intranet landscape.

Lakewood High School has 1200 students and 95 teachers, of these 360 are part of the Center for Advanced computing. The older students in the CAT programme (approx 30 students) are mentored by Louis and have created the SharePoint 2013 intranet that won the IIA2014 competition.

Lakewood Highschool intranet home page


Louis outlined how the first iteration of the intranet had been what you would expect a group of tech kids to create, out of the box sharepoint. But that because they had realised it wasn’t working for their users , they focused on the mission of the school.

Help students succeed, required helping teachers succeed. Thus the school succeeds.

With this in mind the students set about getting to know their users, and putting design thinking into practice. Louis pointed out during the webinar that the reasons he thinks the students have done so well are due to

  • the students are not afraid of failure, they’re used to gaming where when you die your character revives and you try again (learning from your mistakes).
  • the students LOVE finding solutions, answers and finding out about new things.
  • the students are able to put themselves in other people’s shoes.

Apart from design thinking several of the features created by the kids at Lakewood Highschool integrated information from other systems, like the timetabling system. This information they then gave to students and staff where and when was appropriate. For example staff were used to calendar view, where as students thought in days and teaching periods. So the same information is presented differently, appropriate to the user.

Lakewood Highschool student intranet home page

Louis and the students he works with have done what many big budget intranets only dream of.

Take the time to find out more about what Louis and his team have achieved via the recording of this StepTwo IIA2014 webinar and from the IIA2014 report. [I’ll post a link to the webinar recording when it is published, or you can keep an eye on the StepTwo twitter feed]

I hope you’re all inspired and ready to do GREAT work in your digital workplaces!




Design thinking makes intranet’s rock!
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