Intranet Now event – London 5 October 2017

by | Oct 5, 2017 | Conferences, Intranets, Reviews

Around 200 Intranet Now delegates settled down in the Hilton Bankside today ready to listen to 23 presentations and participate in three World Café sessions before emerging into the daylight of central London with renewed energy and vision to take back to their organisations. This was the 4th Intranet Now event, and it just gets better every year. How many other events could deliver 16 presentations in the morning session and be just 2 minutes late for the 1pm lunch break?  The secret of the success of this conference is that it is organised by two members of the UK intranet community (Wedge Black and Brian Lamb) for the UK intranet community, and so all the speakers respected the limit of 9 minutes for their presentations. Moreover the sponsors talked about intranet issues and not their products, which (as we all know) is nothing short of miraculous. There was also a great deal of honesty from speakers about successes and failures, again a tribute to the community-ethos of the event.

The main themes of the day were the importance of planning around well-grounded research into user requirements, ensuring that there are strong links to business strategy and to the senior management team, and working very hard on adoption and communication. None of this is ‘new’ but there were many insights and novel approaches along the way from organisations ranging from some large universities, several charities, a water company, a major financial services business and a few consultants. Two of the presentations were from Australia (Rita Zonius and Amanda Broomhall) and Catherine Grenfell (StepTwo Designs) was also in the audience following the presentation of the Step Two Intranet and Digital Workplace Awards the previous day. There were also delegates and speakers from Denmark. Kurt Kragh Sorensen (IntraTeam) talked about the preliminary outcomes of the IntraTeam benchmarking survey, which is always open to new contributors. In the exhibition area Mads Richard Moeller displayed an ever-increasing array of categorised home pages.

This year Ellen van Aken won the Diamond Award for her excellent SharePoint blog and her curation of a vast collection of adoption videos. All the short-listed candidates would have been worthy winners but I’m personally delighted that Ellen ended up at the top of the list.

Looking back at the event I noted that none of the presentations made more than a passing reference to collaboration. Search was mentioned by a few but then passed over with some speed, with the notable exception of Helen Lippell who linked search and taxonomy management together as they absolutely should be. A sub-theme around the tables seemed to be working out how to get the best from O365 (fast becoming the de facto intranet platform) and how O365 and SharePoint could both be used in hybrid situations. There were several comments about poor performance (in terms of latency) with O365.

The major challenge for Wedge and Brian is how to make Intranet Now even better next year. The venue change worked well, with the hotel managing to keep the queues at lunch moving well. I liked the single central screen and the audio and projection were of a high quality. I also appreciated that the round tables only had seats facing the screen. Like good intranets the challenge with any conference is always to move ahead whilst retaining the core elements of community, energy and networking. I am totally confident they will succeed and look forward to an even larger number of delegates next year.

Martin White