Is there a career path from intranets to digital workplaces?

Mark Morrell's billede

I have written before about career paths and future job opportunities for intranet practitioners.  I don’t believe the only option is to become intranet consultants like I chose to do after leaving as BT’s intranet manager.  If you want to move to another organisation then IntraTeam’s job vacancies in LinkedIn is a good place to start looking.

This post is about career development and progression within your own organisation.  It’s about taking advantage by the creation of the digital workplace to extend your experience and skills into wider and more strategic areas of your business.  I also owe this post to a certain intranet professional (yes, you know who you are!) who I promised this to sometime ago.

At the moment many intranet practitoners are based in the Communications part of their organisation. For intranets it’s probably been the best place since intranets were created.  Typically the first use of intranets was probably to improve communications which then developed into information management, standards, etc.  While intranets mainly had that traditional purpose it made good sense to work there.

Being an intranet manager was a unique role, not always fully understood, and led to frustration when you wanted to take the next step on a career path.  The question was in which direction and, more importantly, whether your organisation recognise your skills and experience could transfer to another role and business unit.  Sadly for many frustrated intranet practitioners this didn’t happen.

The evolution of the digital workplace changes this.  The digital workplace covers social intranets – collaboration with wikis, blogs, shared workspaces; applications – training, performance management, ordering services; micro-blogging – Yammer, Twitter along with the focus changing from the IT equipment chosen by the organisation to what an employee wants to continue using for personal and business use and the changing way in which people don’t need to be in one place to do their work and connect with the information and tools they use.

It means the natural base for ownership of the digital workplace is not in Communications.  It needs to have broader ownership to reflect the extra functions a digital workplace with stakeholders who can either influence the strategy or be affected by it.  Jane McConnell’s recommends a digital board which sounds right to me.  After all, it will still need managing to be effective.

Being part of this digital board can raise your profile with more senior managers who have a broad, strategic, view of the organisation and how technology can enhance operations.  Instead of being the big fish in an intranet bowl think of becoming a smaller fish in a bigger digital workplace bowl.

The digital workplace gives you new new career path opportunities to:

a) Expand your existing role to be more strategic and wider in its scope

b) Take on a new role connected to your intranet role because your skills and experience are better understood and appreciated

How is the best way to do this?  Are there better examples?

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