Telethon Kids Institute

Connectivity and collaboration helps give children a brighter future

About Telethon Kids Institute

The Telethon Kids Institute (“the Institute”) is one of the largest, and most successful independent and notfor- profit medical research institutes in Australia, comprising a dedicated and diverse team of more than 500 staff and students.

The Institute is based in Perth, Western Australia, but actively collaborates with researchers from over 30 countries globally. Being among the first to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to major health issues: clinical research, laboratory sciences and epidemiologists all under the one roof, the Institute has just celebrated its landmark 25th Anniversary.

“Empired delivered a one-stop communications and collaboration portal; our Telescope intranet, which now underpins our newly revitalised internal communications approach.”

Elizabeth Chester
Director of Communications and Development, Telethon Kids Institute

The situation

Elizabeth Chester, the Director of Communications and Development at the Institute, describes the internal communications environment, “We did not have a central communications portal for staff. This gave us no option but to continually email staff with news, announcements and operational changes. Staff had full mailboxes and found it hard to determine which messages were urgent and important. The current intranet was very old and on an unsupported platform so it was no longer useable.”

The Institute also had no existing methods for enabling collaboration between their researchers, who were often geographically dispersed around the world. The limitations imposed by a lack of controllable software and environments,  coupled with the organisation’s inability to provide easily accessible content areas for staff and researchers created a barrier for collaboration, sharing and effective utilisation of information.

The challenges

How do you connect and support 500 people, most of which are located around the world and utilising personal devices that aren’t supported by a Standard Operating Environment and mandated browsers?

While the inefficiencies associated with a lack of enterprise social, collaboration and information management are fairly common, the problems experienced by the Institute were magnified by the organisation’s need to attract talent and promote industry leading tools and practices.

The Institute is mostly funded by research grants and attracting sponsors and leaders in the scientific research field, so without providing its staff and researchers with effective tools, it was difficult to attract benefactors and industry leaders. As the research funding arena is a highly competitive space, providing the tools and methods to work more effectively and maximise investment had to become a core focus for the Institute.

“The project management support we received from Empired was top class. They came in to what was a difficult period of the project with energy, enthusiasm and experience and delivered a great intranet in a very short timeframe.”

Elizabeth Chester
Director of Communications and Development, Telethon Kids Institute

The solution

As a means of confronting these challenges, the Institute identified Office 365 as an ideal platform to both revitalise their intranet and provide meaningful methods to promote document management, collaboration and ideation. From the outset, Chris Nurse, a key project sponsor within the organisation, stated that ‘Cloud adoption, cross platform support (Mac and PC) and browser independence are must-haves, coupled with a minimal use of customisation.’

The project was also viewed as a key mechanism for promoting the 25th anniversary of the Institute; an event that could be used to both promote the launch of the new collaboration platform, while also leveraging the benefits of the new intranet to reach a larger audience of the organisation and their external collaborators.

While the Institute had already identified Office 365 as their platform of choice, they had not been able to design the platform to effectively deliver the various technologies in a cohesive, consistent manner. Empired worked with the Institute to rapidly formulate a number of components of the solution and lead the various work streams by providing expertise from across the Empired portfolio.

Using the range of skills and experience from across the business, Empired was able to deliver a comprehensive solution that integrates their intranet, collaboration portal and mailbox, while incorporating a number of core features of Office 365, such as Yammer, Delve and Search. This approach has created a seamless communication and productivity platform that can be extended as the organisation becomes more reliant on cloud technologies.

“We now have a central news point for staff, allowing us to recognise and communicate with staff in an easier and timelier way without filling everyone’s inbox.”

Elizabeth Chester
Director of Communications and Development, Telethon Kids Institute

The results

Following the successful implementation of the intranet, named “Telescope”, the Institute can now provide all staff and researchers (both internal and external to the organisation) with a single, web-based collaboration, mail and social solution that is agnostic across a number of browsers and devices. As a result, staff and researchers alike can quickly and effectively  create, manage and share information in a centralised location and disperse that information across the organisation through the use of Yammer, and new features of Office 365, such as Delve and Groups.

Elizabeth Chester spoke of the outcome of the project, “Empired delivered a one-stop communications and collaboration portal; our Telescope intranet, which now underpins our newly revitalised internal communications approach. We now have a central news point for staff, allowing us to recognise and communicate with staff in an easier and timelier way without filling everyone’s inbox.

“We’ve been able to rework our other internal communications channels to point staff to the intranet as a single source of truth. The integration with Yammer has also allowed us to introduce staff to a casual way to communicate with groups and the whole company which doesn’t involve email”.

The benefits

Using Telescope, the Institute’s research teams can now work together to innovate and make a difference, without the limitations imposed by geographic location or unsupported technologies.

The Institute is now also promoting greater transparency across the organisation and across individual research groups. With  tailored social feeds, dynamic new updates and the ability to access content on any device, the organisation is feeling more connected and staff have a greater awareness of initiatives and conversations happening in other parts of the business.

The business value

The solution has positively impacted a range of areas within the business, including:

  • The Communications team now have a modern, effective and responsive platform for communicating news and announcements and promote funding activities across the organisation.
  • The IT Services team can quickly on-board staff and researchers into the environment, with a single account providing access to the intranet, collaboration portal, exchange mailbox, staff directory and Yammer.
  • Staff and researchers are using modern, browser based tools that are no longer limited by the technology or environment.


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