Magna International is a $40B Canadian-based, leading global automotive supplier. It employs roughly 158,000 people from 342 manufacturing facilities (Divisions) and 91 product development, engineering, and sales centres, operating within 7 product-based Groups, across 27 countries. This diversity is a massive strength for the company, but it needed to be supported in the right way to ensure employees find the information they need, when they need it.
In today’s world, we are all overloaded with information. From social media, to news, to chat groups with your friends, to new and interesting podcasts. There is a lot of content coming at us. It is hard to follow, and it is even harder to identify what is important.
This problem is just as true at companies as it is within our personal lives. There are documents everywhere. Notifications everywhere. Company news in your email, on your intranet, in the media, and, likely, in many places you wish it wasn’t.
Employees and managers wrestle with this daily. The objective is to provide the most relevant information to employees, at the right time, in the right way, and ultimately increase productivity. This is not easy. It is difficult and a challenge that can be daunting for any business.
Organizations invest a lot of time and resources into creating ways to automate this challenge. Often, algorithms are made to suggest content that may be relevant to employees. This can be based on which documents employees work on, teammates they collaborate with often, or information that might be trending from across the company.
Algorithms like these can be highly effective. One example is Google Search. We all use Google Search, it works great. These algorithms do have problems though. They are biased. They can lead to people getting stuck in a tunnel of self-reinforcing recommendations. This is not good for discoverability.
In addition to these recommendation engines, we must explore other ways of surfacing content to employees, ways that encourage discoverability. One such method is through matching the types of content created for employees to their place within the organization. This allows for a constant stream of content that is relevant to the user but broader than their immediate use case.
Our team has been fortunate in being able to support Magna International with the growth of their Digital Workplace. We have had a long-lasting partnership and have developed many content discoverability solutions together.
One of those solutions was the Content Stream, a multi-faceted content personalization and content targeting aggregator that provides relevant information to employees on their intranet, MagNET. The Content Stream became a true beacon of increased information flow for Magna employees, but creating it required a deep understanding of the needs and pain points of their employees.
Large, global organizations have a very broad range of employee profiles. A key feature of the Content Stream is its ability to target content to employees based on their unique profile. This was a critical feature for Magna, as they were focused on surfacing relevant information to their employees as soon as they landed on the intranet.
One of the first challenges that we had to overcome was a lack of information architecture consistency across their intranet. We worked closely with Magna’s Corporate Communications teams to identify consistent metadata that could be used to classify information on the intranet. This metadata was coded into SharePoint site templates to make it easy to apply it consistently every time a new intranet site was created. Essentially, creating ‘information anchors’ to streamline information findability across the intranet.
Our second major challenge was developing a content experience that was powerful enough to roll up relevant content for employees from across hundreds of SharePoint sites that make up the intranet. Through user interviews, personas, pain point and needs analysis, as well as deep design thinking exercises with the team, we created a Content Stream experience that surfaced news from across the Intranet into a single, branded stream of publications.
This stream has many targeting settings that work off our information architecture foundations. Importantly, we enabled a setting that when selected, presents news to employees that align with their Group, Function, and Region within the organization.
Our final major challenge was ensuring the intranet had the information that it needed to make a match between an employee’s profile and the metadata pattern of news articles. Through a close partnership with Magna’s IT team, we worked out the infrastructure and integrations required to sync their on-premises Active Directory information with Azure Active Directory and SharePoint’s user profile service. Schemas were designed, integrations coded, and data began to flow from a single source of truth to where it could be referenceable and matched to news published on the intranet.
Through a user-first, cross-platform, cross-team effort, working with various functions across the organization, we designed an integrated and personalized news experience for Magna employees. When they open their intranet, they see news that is both relevant to them, but also news that encourages discoverability. Employees are now more productive in being able to find relevant announcements and have a much-improved news experience.
However, this is not the end of our journey. In addition to building many other content discoverability features with Magna, we are continuing to work together to enhance their digital workplace experience. From personalized communications newsletters to news analytics that track engagement and employee sentiment, we are just getting started.
Building experiences that amplify the user experience and allow employees to discover relevant content when they need it most is a difficult challenge. Organizations need to embrace internal communication and collaboration challenges if they seek to empower their staff to be the most productive version of themselves.
We have been fortunate to develop deep expertise in creating employee digital experiences that lead to real change in organizations. It is our passion. We also have various whitepapers and if this whitepaper rings for your, then you may find our intranet and adoption whitepapers particularly interested and topical.
If you are interested in working together to build a similar experience, as seen in this intranet case study, for your company, talk to us. We would love to help you with your journey.