Great intranets: Unisys

Part I of a four part series on great intranets.

“Technology is just the enabler; people and process drive social business,” says Gloria Burke, Chief Knowledge Officer, Unisys.

Unisys is a worldwide information technology company that provides a portfolio of IT services, software, and technology and more than 23,000 employees in more than 100 countries. The Unisys social intranet is an integrated intranet (built on Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013) that has evolved over time with the Unisys population. And although the intranet has been supplemented with additional technology – including FAST, Sitrion (Newsgator), , Microsoft Lync, and,) – to bring alive the native functionality found in SharePoint, Unisys has put the principal focus and effort into people and process, not technology.

“Focus on culture; people drive success, technology is the enabler,” says Burke. “Bring in the champions within each organization of the company to be active change agents.”

Reporting to the CIO, as Chief Knowledge Officer, Gloria Burke owns the intranet and chairs the Intranet Steering Committee, and a Knowledge & Collaboration Stakeholders Council with senior leaders from across the company — business units, HR, IT, legal, finance, marketing, global operations, and more.

The Unisys home page features the standard elements including global navigation, search, feature stories and audienced news, and features executive blogs and federated video from its You-Tube channel. Employees can in fact choose the language of choice for navigating the Unisys intranet, Inside Unisys. My News is targeted specifically to the individual based on region and organization, and language preferences.

However, the impressive elements to the Unisys intranet portal, are the social components. The collaborative approach to a social intranet have been impressive:

  • 91% adoption rate of social technology tools and processes amongst target knowledge workers
  • 100% of Senior Management have and are active users of My Sites, microblogging and communities
  • $5.2 million annualized savings in telephony costs


Social Change Management

Prior to becoming social, Unisys employees, for lack of a common internal collaborative platform, created a non-Unisys sponsored community on Yammer. This unsecure social network outside the company’s firewall, compromised Unisys privacy standards and presented a security risk in more ways than one. In fact, more than 1,800 Unisys employees were contributing to this community. The company quickly transformed its intranet to incorporate a community-based collaborative platform and employees migrated back behind the firewall.

“If you don’t invest in these platforms, you will lose young talent to the competition,” says Burke, addressing the 2014 Intranet Global Forum at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA.

And so the move towards social began many years ago, but began with emphasis in 2010 with the introduction of SharePoint My Sites – personalized, individual profile sites that enable employee social networking. Leading the charge, as the above statistics reveal, are senior management who are very active users, and active champions.

In fact, senior management uses an internal social community, a closed community “to run Unisys,” adds Burke. Ed Coleman, the CEO, blogs to employees in his own words (not a PR handler’s words) and uses the blog to engage employees in dialogue. And he truly leads the social change at Unisys: a video promoting the new intranet spends the opening minute featuring Coleman using and evangelizing the value of the intranet and enterprise social media.

Unisys employees were encouraged to create profile pages that include skills and experience to create a company presence and to follow colleagues in order to develop a valuable knowledge sharing network. They were also encouraged to author blogs, share updates through microblogs, and join communities of interest to share and develop expertise.

Employees are automatically alerted to blog postings and microblog postings on the newsfeeds on Inside Unisys. In addition to its global newsfeed capability, Unisys also deployed Salesforce,com to enable it salesforce to leverage a segmented “Chatter” feed within Inside Unisys to share information specific to client account management, market win best practices and essons learned in losses.

Unisys executives reinforced the value of social collaboration at town hall meetings with employees around the world, and the knowledge solutions team followed up with education and training. The team created role-based scenarios for the adoption and use of the various social computing capabilities and socialized them through targeted communications, explaining how employees could leverage social collaboration to do their jobs better.

Unisys social intranet home page and legend 2014
Unisys social intranet home page with legend (2014)

But social media technology in itself will not change anything, as Unisys knows all too-well. A greater change management effort to increase intranet use and adoption includes:

  • Awareness & Communications Campaigns
  • Gamification, such as Knowledge Scavenger hunts and My Site contests for best profiles
  • On-demand learning, video vignettes (for example, on how to enable a blog, and set up a wiki)
  • Interactive, community-based Knowledge and Collaboration Center
  • Role-based workshops that socialize the value of social technologies in every day work
  • Role-based workshops that socialize the value of social technologies in every day work
  • On-demand learning, video vignettes (for example, on how to enable a blog, and set up a wiki)


My Sites

SharePoint My Sites are the core component of the social networking platform at Unisys, which scales it global enterprise. My Sites functionality has been enhanced by other technologies including Newsgator (now called Sitrion), Lync, and, and includes:

  • Detailed profiles – Photo, role description, contact information, past projects current interests as well as authoritative skill sets that are imported directly from PeopleSoft – a custom integration created by Unisys
  • Kudos – This section allows employees to recognize the valuable contributions of others.
  • Recent Activity Feed – what I and others are doing.
  • My Organization – This section provides a view of my peer colleagues, those to whom I report and employees who report up to me (People Soft streams into the My Site Profile).
  • Expertise – This section showcases my area of expertise and is linked to search. When colleagues ask question and uses a #hashtag the topic, I am notified.


Employees can also seek out others for help:

  • Post Questions & Answers – Employees can pose and answer questions within the newsfeed with greater transparency and reach. The use of hash tags directs questions to experts who can then respond with the right answer in a real time environment.
  • Filtered Newsfeed Viewing – This allows employees to view global posts, or post made by colleagues whom they are following or by communities to which they are subscribed.
  • Add/Follow Colleagues – Enables employees to quickly build a valuable network by following colleagues and the information they share in the newsfeed.


In addition to social profiles, the Unisys intranet has 470 designated subject matter experts who curate knowledge and provide essential mentoring to evolve employee skill sets and expertise.  Experts are badged in search as well as in their respective profiles, enabling employees to quickly identify and engage with them at the time of need.


Employees can search by topic to find communities of interest or view a list of recommended communities to join. There are 80 strategic communities; 200+ open communities in all. Potential community leaders fill out an online community form to request a community; additional information and guidance on starting and leading a community is provided. Heather Gallegos, Head of Intranet Strategy at Cisco calls the Unisys approach to Communities as “brilliant.”

Clearly, if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an enterprise to raise a social intranet.

The Unisys and other leading intranets will be featured in a special webinar, The Best Intranets, March 19, 2014 at 12:30pm EDT. Registration is free.

Part II of “Great Intranets”  features the brilliant social intranet of Cisco, Great Intranets Part II: Cisco Systems.

Toby Ward is the Founder and Chair of the Intranet Global Forum conferences, and CEO and Founder of Prescient Digital Media and Social Business Interactive. Toby’s global clients include Harvard, HSBC, Mastercard, Pepsi, Sony, USAA and dozens of others.