Thoughts for Government from Intranets2015

I was at Intranets2015 in Sydney last week checking out the latest case-studies and trends in the world of intranet and digital workplace. While I was a bit sad that the Melbourne weather followed me there, it was once again jam-packed with valuable information and opportunities to hear from fellow intranet folk.

A few things stood out for me in relation to government and what is important for our government and local government customers to focus on to continually improve their intranets.

Department intranets have some unique challenges

I really enjoyed Adam Rees’ presentation on authoring communities at the Department of Human Services (DHS). The first thing that resonated was the challenge they faced in having to amalgamate a number of intranets into one after a restructure in government departments.

If you’re new to a government intranet role, or perhaps haven’t experienced this sort of structural change, it’s certainly something to be aware of and prepare for. It’s common for departments to change, especially when government changes and it can cause issues when the intranet and supporting people data sources (like Active Directory and HR Systems) aren’t structure to accommodate combining or splitting data and systems easily.

If you’re planning or undertaking a government intranet project ask yourself the question: Are our processes and technology set up to handle a structural change to the agency?

Accessibility is a journey

The second thing I liked about Adam’s presentation was their achievement with accessibility. There was applause in the room when Adam from DHS announced that their intranet was close to reaching WCAG 2.0 AA accessibility. It’s no mean feat to get technology and content to that level and many organisations simply ignore it for the intranet to focus on websites.

Accessibility for your staff is equally important as it is for your community. There are productivity and cultural benefits to having a user friendly and accessible intranet. And from a risk perspective, just because the intranet is hidden from public view doesn’t mean that you won’t end up in court.

The future is shiny

Not strictly a government topic but I was keenly interested in some of the planned features which David Murray of Qantas spoke about. Using tools like FitBit or even an Apple Watch to help staff with well-being and then providing the data back to the Safety or HR teams to help improve services.

Even more interesting was the idea of using a location based tool like Beacon to provide geographically relevant information to staff. The example was like a next-level people search and could be very helpful for agencies and councils who have geographically dispersed staff.

It can sometimes seem like these sorts of trendy features are whimsical or beyond the reach of a government or local government organisation. However, if it is going to improve culture or even better, create process efficiency which has a positive impact to the community it’s worth exploring as an idea.

Final thoughts

The annual intranets conferences which Step Two Designs run are the best place in Australia to get the latest ideas and thought-leadership about intranets and digital workplace.

Not all of the presentations will be directly government case-studies or information, but it’s all relevant for any intranet big or small. It’s also a great opportunity to meet with people from agencies across Australia. I was able to speak to a number of delegates who were from government agencies and councils including Seamless customer Francis from Hobart City Council. Thanks for the great chat over lunch Francis, and for agreeing to get a photo with me.

If you want to chat with me about the event or some of the topics I’ve highlighted please get in touch.

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