The announcement has just been made of the  winners in the StepTwo Designs 2011 Intranet Innovation Awards. I have been a judge of these awards since their inception and look forward every year to working through the entries. This year there were 50 entries from around the world, though some of them were disappointingly presented. When I looked at the initial list I was somewhat surprised to see the UK company Framestore had entered for a second year, as they had won a Gold Award in 2010.  How could they possibly maintain innovation momentum? However it was clear from the moment I started to read the documentation that this was an exceptional example of inspired innovation (and a lot of dedicated work from the intranet team) that has had a significant impact on the way that the entire company operates as a leading-edge computer animation studio. The team are worthy recipients of the Platinum Award.

The Gold Awards are for innovation excellence in front line delivery, core functionality, communication and collaboration and business solutions.  The UK did well this year with not only the Platinum winner but also Gold Awards to the mobile intranet service developed for the UK Parliament and to Arup for a social microsite it created to support the work it does for the SportsAid charity. Other award winners came from Australia (Queensland University of Technology and CRS Australia), Denmark (Lundbeck), France (Alcatel and Lafarge), Sweden (Malmo City) and the USA (ScottsMiracleGro). There were also some Commended entries from CSIRO and RSPCA Victoria (Australia), Vancity (Canada) and Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP (UK).

This year the 179 page report on the award winners deserves an award itself for  the quality of the presentation and for the quality of the analysis of both the individual winners and the trends and issues that are exemplified across all the winners. There are lots of lessons to be learned and the StepTwo team, led by Steve Bynghall have done a brilliant job in presenting these in an informed and concise way. You get a lot of information and inspiration for just $89, or $189 for a complete set of the reports from 2007 to 2011.

The key message I take from the report is that with careful planning, and listening carefully to users about the tasks they need support for, even a small investment in time (rarely technology) can make a huge difference to the operational performance of an organisation.

Martin White