Intra.Net Reloaded, Berlin, 10-11 April 2014

The 2014 Intra.Net Reloaded conference took place at the Kosmos cinema complex in Berlin and attracted around 240 delegates, mainly from Germany and other central EU states. This was the first time I had attended the conference, having been invited to run a forum session on SharePoint 2013 for intranets. Twenty papers were squeezed into the two-day event though this did mean starting at 8am each day. As well as the presentations there were workshops, café sessions and some training sessions. Most of the presentations were excellent. Well presented, very aware of the interests of the audience and keeping strictly to time.

Among the papers that caught my attention were Miguel Lozano (CEMEX) via a 2am local time video link from Mexico, Jean-Paul Chapon (Société Generale), Marc Jadoul (Alcatel-Lucent), Felix Huck (Roland Berger), Paul Jervis-Heath (Cambridge University) and David Orchard (Syngenta). Even though most of the presentations were about intranets in large organisations the lessons learned were generally applicable to organisations of any size. A common theme to most of the presentations was the need for a patient approach to intranet redevelopment, clear alignment with business requirements and culture and strong support from senior managers.

The organisers had gone to some lengths to produce a varied programme, but the café and ‘Challenge your Peers’ sessions each had probably 20 delegates around the table. This was a challenge for the facilitators to manage and meant that participants were only able to make a contribution of only a minute or two. The principle of having ‘small’ discussion groups is excellent but  they do not scale to this number of delegates. Cross-talk noise from adjacent groups was also a problem, especially as the facilitators had to speak fairly loudly to reach the outermost edges of their groups. Running the workshops double-handed would have helped, with one person making notes and the facilitator maintaining momentum.

Overall I felt that it was an excellent conference and I came away benefiting not only from the formal sessions but also from networking opportunities over food of exceptional quality. I’d certainly consider going to the 2015 event but would look carefully at the programme to see if the organisers had learned from the 2014 event and recognised the need to manage the size of discussion groups.

Martin White