Archive for May, 2019

ThoughtSummit 2019 Recap

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Much of the messaging was geared towards first time collaborative intranet admins & corporate comms folks on the ThoughtFarmer platform.

One of the classic moments for me was when someone in the audience asked the presenter (Sean Biehle of MedData) if they just let anyone contribute anything?

To which he answered “well we keep a tight control on our intranet home page and our corporate-comms blogs, but outside of that, teams are free to engage and whatever communication they like, of course following our code of standards. Brought me back….

The whole summit, felt a little like a single-track for new users at an old JiveWorld conference.

Speaking of tracks, there were at least three groups of people from small credit unions or banks from British Columbia and Oklahoma that I know of. In the future they might want to have a speaker who can discuss the successful implementation of a collaborative Intranet in a financial organization. Similarly there was one community manager from a municipal police department in BC, and a two-person team from a small city in Alberta the could benefit from hearing how similar government organizations set up collaborative intranets.

2ToLead gave a powerful presentation on the functional coexistence of a SharePoint / ThoughtFarmer combined Intranet. They also discussed some of the out-of-the-box search adapters ThoughtFarmer offers including the one for Office365.

In Chuck Gose’s and Kristin Hancock’s talk on not “Commsplaining”, they  helped comms people become more self-aware in communicating to elicit better responses from the organizations. Kristen gave one example of creating bridges with IT teams. If I were to add anything to their talk, I think I would add that corporate comms folks are often graduates of English or journalism at university, and hold themselves to a high standard in writing. But when you are trying to evangelize workers to blog more, you need to tone down the rhetoric about following style guides / standards etc. which are irrelevant to people like engineers.

The summit included a few opportunities to change gears and stop talking shop. One was an inspirational talk by Julie Angus and her adventures rowing across the Atlantic, another was our trip up Cypress Mountain and meeting with the owls and bears. And then it was finished off with a happy hour at an intimate bar with great food – and music volume not too loud to continue talking a little shop or really anything. I’m having a little flashback to the Final Night Party at JiveWorld15, where you really couldn’t hear a thing.

Blaine Kyllo gave an excellent talk on how creating quality knowledge articles inside your intranet can help reduce the costs of running a help desk, because agents can get answers faster. With general knowledge workers it is hard to prove that the ROI on spending a little bit more time dumping knowledge into a company-wide knowledge base can actually be huge. However most call centers can tell you exactly how many dollars it costs to answer each phone call, so any measure to cut the cost can immediately be seen.

During the only live demo of the summit, Trevor Allen showed us FormFlow. There were some standard use cases, like ordering business cards etc.. I understand there are similar products for other intranet platforms out there, however I think that ThoughtFarmer’s price point, and ease-of-use make it an attractive option. The 80-20 rule definitely applies, it is a simple workflow application that will definitely meet 80% of the workflow needs of most organizations.

The highlight for me was Chris McGrath’s talk on chat bots. Despite the current state of most chatbots being very hokey information collection systems with a simple chat like interface and little actual value to the user (my take, not his), the vision down the road is more like an Alexa or Google Assistant natural language conversation with your Enterprise systems which would include your collaborative intranet. But even today his company, Tangowork’s product can provide useful information discovery today across multiple chat interfaces (Slack, Skype for biz and many others).

I look forward to the day when I can talk to my intranet on the drive to work and say “Tell me what the top 10 liked blog posts are from the last 7 days” or “Read to me the 2nd last blog post from the CEO” so I can stay up to date on news without it eating into my most productive work hours.