A modern cloud-based intranet
The journey started a few years back with a strategic vision of moving Hempel’s IT solutions to the cloud. “We knew we could move e-mail, documents and people, but if we didn’t bring all the communications and collaboration components together at the same time, we really wouldn’t get the same value,” says Mark Sutton, IT Infrastructure and Operations Director at Hempel.
And so, Hempel did just that. With the strategic vision in mind, Hempel’s IT department took ownership of all the company’s digital platforms and started the big cloud migration. “Moving to the cloud was a bold and brilliant move that has helped solve one of the biggest challenges in IT – keeping things current and modern,” says Mark Sutton.
”The solution Delegate developed to help us measure the adoption and our ability to collaborate worldwide has given us invaluable insights. It has showed us that even though the new intranet was built to accommodate all our needs and lives up to all the wishes and expectations we had: It is simple, beautiful and functional. It is NOT the collaboration platform we need – we’ve built an intranet, but it is not the future… ”
Building a new collaboration platform
The first step on the journey was transforming Hempel’s old outdated intranet to a modern cloud-based version. In that process Hempel knew they needed to rethink the intranet to support one of the company’s key goals and challenges: They needed a platform that would accommodate close global collaboration – a platform that would enable them to “collaborate like crazy”.
“What we did to get started was to challenge our CEO. I asked him: “So what does collaboration mean to you?” We needed to come up with a model for collaboration that everyone across our 120 sites around the world could relate to and understand, and we knew we had to get the top management involved. So, with the goal of pinning down collaboration, we teamed up with Delegate and started the intranet migration with an envisioning phase”, says Mark Sutton.
The envisioning phase was crucial to Hempel. Mark Sutton: “We really had to describe what we were creating. We needed a deep dive and we needed the sharpest consultants to help us be visionary. Everybody can create a new intranet – moving junk from one place to another is really not a big deal. But what we wanted to do was something different. We wanted to truly understand what we were doing and why. We needed some very clear concepts to communicate this. I think we started off with a twenty step model and all types of complexity as most of us IT guys do, and in the end what we came to realize is that collaboration is made up of 3 simple things: contribution, awareness and engagement.”
With that understanding, Hempel and Delegate developed a model and a framework to communicate how all this pulled together. “You have to contribute something – when you do, people around you need to be aware – once they are aware they will engage. That became our model. But what we uncovered is just how bad we are at awareness. We create lots of content and contribute to a large extent. But we have to make someone aware or be aware of that contribution. And that is where we constantly fall short. The envisioning phase clearly showed us where we needed to apply technology to support this. It wasn’t a technical problem, it wasn’t a management problem – it was a human being problem,” said Mark Sutton.
The findings of the envisioning phase meant that Hempel’s new platform could be designed to highlight and augment the awareness challenge. The framework of technology had to overlay the model and augment their ability to be more aware without suffering from information overload. Hempel’s framework is made up of office 365, windows 10, mobility (the intranet and all the tools and capabilities in your pocket) and the intranet.
The future of the intranet
Heading into the intranet transformation project, Mark Sutton had 3 focus areas:
- Creating a unique selling point that was simple to communicate.
- Creating a tool that the end-users at hempel would adopt.
- Creating a tool to measure the success of the adoption.
“There was no one element in the process that was more important than the other. We needed all, but the solution Delegate developed to help us measure the adoption and our ability to collaborate worldwide has given us invaluable insights. It has showed us that even though the new intranet was built to accommodate all our needs and lives up to all the wishes and expectations we had: It is simple, beautiful and functional. It is NOT the collaboration platform we need – we’ve built an intranet, but it is not the future,” says Mark Sutton.
“The future of the Collaboration platform is something else. The intranet serves its purpose for communications… as long as people look at it. But it is not in itself a collaboration platform, and that’s the challenge! So, what we need instead of the intranet or as a supplement to the intranet, is a platform that understands each employee, that understands who they’re working with, who they’re working for, what they are working on, and then efficiently presents only what’s changing in “their world” to them. Cutting out the information overload. Luckily that is exactly the platform we got in the cloud migration. That is the communications platform based on Office 365 and Delve in particular. If you ask me; that is the future collaboration platform,” says Mark Sutton.
“The best consultants listen more than they speak. They want to understand your organization and your business. They never take your assumptions face value. Instead they ask probing questions until there are no more questions to be asked ”
Working with Delegate
“The best consultants listen more than they speak. They want to understand your organization and your business. They never take your assumptions face value. Instead they ask probing questions until there are no more questions to be asked. They never jump to conclusions and use all the information a client provides to come up with the solution. That’s what I expect from a consultant and get from working with Delegate – in addition to being professional and good at their jobs of course”, says Mark Sutton.
Mark Sutton continues and elaborates on the importance of using a consultancy such as Delegate to the envisioning phase: ”9 times out of 10, the first answer you come up with isn’t the right one, nor is the second or third, it is something a little further down the list and you need to get there with the help of the process. That was why we needed the envisioning phase.”
According to Mark Sutton, a good envisioning phase is all about value: “The best envisioning phase is when you lock the doors and spend two full days thinking, searching, discussing and brainstorming about collaboration. You think long term, educate yourself and widen your perspective. In the end, it’s all about finding the simple and clean core elements – having considered every possible angle and aspect of the topic and boiled it down. We had to break it all apart, find out what collaboration was made of and figure out what the future will bring – that was what the envisioning phase was all about to us.”
The intranet migration was never a technical project to Hempel. It was a business project. “We wanted to focus on the end goal – on how people collaborate and how we could build a model and a framework to help them do it better and more efficiently. Alan Lemming from Delegate understood that,” says Mark Sutton.
Learnings and the future
Looking back in retrospect, Mark Sutton has no regrets. “The intranet is great. It lives up to all the set requirements – but it doesn’t solve our problem. It has not and will never, on its own, become the collaboration platform we need. Delve along with collaborating in groups and teams are collaboration platforms – office 365 provides these. So, what we did when we packaged and presented the new platform was that we didn’t call it a new intranet – we called it a collaboration platform. A platform made up of the Intranet, windows 10, office 365 (delve and groups), and mobility. It’s the technology grouping framework that gives us the ability to collaborate!!!”
As in any project it’s not only about the successes. It’s the learnings that carry the most value. “The success, ironically, is not as valuable as we imagined. But what we learned about collaboration, communications, getting people to work together and moving into the cloud is enormous. For that I am really happy and I think it has changed our viewpoint,” Mark Sutton concludes.