Sunday, 6 April 2014

Iris intranet, where information meets collaboration

"The triptic intranet, Iris, is a breath of fresh air. It is disarming, funny, smart, modern, and available when you need it." Nielsen Norman Group 

Iris Intranet is context-driven and designed to help employees work faster and better. It has developed by triptic, the Eindhoven-based agency for online communications that won this year Intranet Design Annual Award by Nielsen Norman Group.

Several elements make Iris different from traditional intranets. First, its user-centred design. The homepage recognises employees' profiles, and adjusts information to them based on their tasks, working relationships and locations.

"For instance, if you were a doctor working at hospital A you will get access to certain information, protocols or procedures different from the ones you would get access to if you where working from hospital B," explains triptic's Communications Manager Jos Rouw.

A social intranet: when information meets collaboration

While many companies still face a divide between their intranet and their internal social network, Iris is all in one place. Information about the business, documents, files, calendar, and all sources of content relevant to get work done are combined with the social wall where people see colleagues' most recent posts and access profiles, timelines and discussions. "Employees are enabled to share their ideas while being informed. They can get insights on their project and immediately talk about it together, discussing their thoughts with the distance of a click."

Team blogs, used to share articles and post updates, generate daily opportunities for groups to come up with new ideas to improve the business. Rouw recalls a concrete example:

"Recently, we have had a discussion on how to tailor our ROI argument to a company that was working with an old fashioned intranet: its people were not communicating enough, and collaboration was seen as a distraction. Our people from technical development, sales and management joined the conversation on Iris. The group formulated an argument to explain how valuable the platform could be for this organisation. That proved to be successful. Afterward, our Senior Technical Consultant posted a message: “This is an example of what the platform is for: getting new insights together.”

“The happy faces overview” is another group where employees share the reactions from clients on the projects that they do for them. This has also been instrumental in driving discussions around improvements.

Enhancing digital communications through a responsive-design

Employees at triptic call their Iris's search engine 'find engine' because “information should find you and you should not look for it too much,” says Rouw. Aligned with this principle, they can tailor their own dashboard by choosing the widgets to be displayed on their screen, move them around to create the order that they like, have the information relevant to their own work and see potential new projects of interest to them. According to Rouw, this helps to save time - for example by preventing the exchange of unnecessary emails - and it encourages adoption.

Iris is also capable of prioritising content to accommodate all the different mobile devices and computers, thanks to her responsive design. “That way employees can have the information relevant to their own needs anytime, anywhere.

"There was a lot of research put into this specific element which involved responsive design techniques, design-thinking and the use of personas (e.g. What does a typical sale manager need when he/she is on the road?)

"For example, while every colleague has an elaborate profile page, when you are on the road it is most likely you want to have their contact details or see whether they are in the office or not. So the first thing Iris lets you see is their phone number, schedule and availability."

Another way of adjusting content and features depending on the device, appears with an helpful status display: without the need of clicking, a red icon shows the employee’s number of notifications including updates, reactions, posts, and mentions.

The use of Iris inside Dorel Juvenile Europe

"At triptic, we see Iris as a small start-up in the sense that the product has its own life," says Rouw. The intranet is being used not only inside triptic but also by a number of large organisations including Dorel Juvenile Europe, the creator of innovative products for children such us Maxi-Cosi, Bébé Confort, Quinny, Safety 1st & Baby Art.

Less than a year ago the company introduced 'in touch', their Iris, to better benefit from the organisation's collective brain, to meet Gen Y's communicative attitudes and to stimulate Europe-wide commitment, creating one identity across 13 countries. They also use in touch to innovate and make children products safer.

Marlou Kessels, Communications Consultant at Dorel Juvenile Europe, comments: "A good example is a team we created to discuss the development of the longboardstroller, an inventive Quinny product. It's a new 'urban mobility concept' that makes it easier for parents to cover longer distances in the city with their young children. The people who worked on the longboardstroller shared their updates, thoughts and insights on in touch, enhancing the internal transparency around innovation and encouraging colleagues from different countries to give their opinions and ideas. This has been invaluable in connecting employees with product innovation, company-wide."

A design that speaks to people

It is unusual to see such a sophisticated intranet platform developed by a company that does not have millions of dollars of Silicon Valley investment behind it. Time will tell whether triptic will be able sell it in to the large corporates. However, on first sight it appears to be an innovative and flexible option.

When considering how to boost adoption of an intranet there are many cultural and change management elements to take into account; yet with Iris the design makes things easier: "it is just very inviting. It doesn't scare off employees like many other very techy systems often do. Once people are on board the rest follows, since they immediately realise that they can do their work much better, find everything they need and save a lot of time."

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This article originally appeared on simply-communicate