Over the last 20 years, Giorgio Blangetti has seen firsthand how intranet technologies have evolved as he implemented and administered tools including Lotus Domino, Microsoft Exchange and now Workplace by Facebook.
As collaboration and technology manager at Miroglio, Blangetti’s latest project is rolling out Facebook’s business-oriented collaborative platform to the Italian fashion and textiles group’s 4,000 global employees. Miroglio went live on Workplace by Facebook in under 100 days.
Transforming Current Innovation
Blangetti’s prior experiences at multinationals, including logistics provider MOL and retailer Carrefour, taught him “a way to work and think about solutions that look to the future,” but which also need to integrate with existing business services. He describes his work as “transforming innovation in standard processes,” which have to be codified, connected and made available in the different branches of an organization.
Blangetti will be speaking at CMSWire and Digital Workplace Group’s Digital Workplace Experience taking place June 19 through 21 at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel in Chicago. He will give a session titled “Engaging with Frontline Employees Through Workplace by Facebook” June 20.
We spoke with Blangetti about the evolving nature of intranet technologies and what lessons he’d share from the Workplace by Facebook rollout.
Give Every Employee a Voice
CMSWire: How have you seen organizations evolve the focus and goals of their intranet projects? What’s different today?
Blangetti: Intranet is a chimera. For many years, I worked with infrastructure based on Lotus Notes/Domino and thought that it was a very advanced and innovative platform. Then, it felt like seeing the extinction of the dinosaurs followed by the birth of a new era, with intranet based on various layers of software and technology.
For years we tried and worked to integrate the infrastructure, creating a single point of access — the portal — and single user provisioning and authentication — single sign-on (SSO). We were also defining guidelines for the design of the applications and the sharing of common services, for example, the search or management of metadata. All of this integration required great effort and when we reached these objectives, intranet was transformed into something else.
Today, the challenge is to connect various SaaS services with internal applications. Is it possible from Office 365 email to save an attachment to Box that can be transferred automatically on our internal DAM (digital asset management software), and also be shared on Workplace? Is it possible to do this securely?
These are the challenges and objectives that we face today with intranet.
CMSWire: How would you describe the focus and goals for Miroglio’s Workplace by Facebook initiative?
Blangetti: One of the goals of the project was to create a more dynamic and united company where information more quickly flowed to all employees. So, employees at headquarters would be able to see in real time what was happening in our stores and our store employees would feel more involved in the work to improve our fashion collections.
Another aspect to keep in mind is that all this information is collected and shared in workgroups in which every employee can have a voice without worrying about hierarchy or roles. In our experience, typical social network interaction transferred to the workplace encourages every single employee to share the most innovative and positive aspects of their work, and this snowball effect creates constant improvement of work.
CMSWire: How do you see this intranet project evolving at Miroglio?
Blangetti: What we are building is an enormous “collective intelligence,” made up of 4,000 minds and 8,000 eyes, because we don’t know where the next great idea will come from. But now we know that we will be able to engage these ideas and develop them faster than ever.
From the technology side, the platform is still in its infancy but has an enormous amount of potential to evolve. We are working to integrate Workplace with other applications or use it to build new services.
CMSWire: What lessons learned and best practices would you share with other organizations who would like to emulate Miroglio’s rapid, under 100 days implementation?
Blangetti: I would suggest doing two things. First, engage the company board as soon as possible. This is not an IT or an HR project. It must be a project directly supported by the corporate executives. A smart board will immediately understand the potential benefits of the technology and so will be among the first to lead adoption of the intranet.
Secondly, focus on the planning and pilot phases. Checking/Check in directly onsite what problems arise in adoption. More specifically, if you have thousands of users, concentrate on the provisioning and authentication phases. In our case, we connected Active Directory with Azure AD (Active Directory), which required a significant amount of initial configuration, but actually it’s a pretty stable platform.
CMSWire: Have you seen any unexpected results from the Workplace by Facebook initiative, especially in giving a voice to all 4,000 Miroglio workers?
Blangetti: Honestly, we didn’t expect such a successful and immediate outcome. On average, we have more than 1,200 new posts each week and 12,000 reactions and comments.
We have more than 200 groups and many of these have turned into real independent work communities. For instance, designers can describe their new collections to sales managers via live streaming; store employees can provide immediate feedback about customer appreciation; and brand managers can drive sales targets. The CEO has a direct link to everyone and can let them all know about new company objectives and goals.
All this was possible before Workplace, but it was much, much slower and more limited.
I think that the rapid adoption was also due to the Workplace user interface, which is very similar to Facebook. You don’t need to train employees on how to use it. No one felt intimidated by this new technological tool or had difficulty in using it. And this is a significant, enormous advantage for adoption of Workplace.
CMSWire: Which TV show would you recommend binge watching and why? Which TV show have you tried to binge watch and failed? Why was that?
Blangetti: I’m watching the third season of “Fargo.” I think that the series completely respects the mood of the original movie.
I had high hopes for “The Young Pope” from the Oscar award winning director Paolo Sorrentino, but the plot was so sloppy that I ended up sleeping through most episodes! And I’m sure I’m not the only one, even though others probably wouldn’t admit it ....