In a previous blogpost, we discussed how traditional Intranets have shifted to become part of a bigger ecosystem: a totality where people, processes and information are connected, supported by technology in an extension of the traditional workplace - hence the term "Digital Workplace".
In this post, we'll elaborate on the main business drivers that justify a digital workplace.
Digital Workplace: a broad conceptA Digital Workplace spans the company in two dimensions, horizontally across departments and vertically, nested inside specific business processes. At times, it can seem to encompass every single aspect of the enterprise, which in a sense, it does.
Ask 10 organization members what their ideal Digital Workplace would look like and how it could help them and you’ll receive a huge lists of ideas. It will range from the most fancy (little) tools and toys to the most generalistic theoretic concepts. I've been there, staring at a requirements spreadsheet with 136 items on it, trying to cluster them in order to get a high-level overview.
The set of skills, tools and organizational aspects required to set up a Digital Workplace can be very broad, and I'd prefer not to elaborate on features and architecture just yet. Instead, it's good to look at what the main business drivers will be for justifying Digital Workplaces.
Main business drivers for a Digital Workplace
The most common drivers for Digital Workplaces are (in no particular order):
#1: Enabling digital transformation
Companies who have "digital transformation" listed on their agenda, grasp that this transformation can only happen if they align the way they deal, communicate or connect with their customers, partners or suppliers with their internal organization.
The purpose of Digital Workplaces is to enable this alignment, to digitally bridge the in- and the outside world.
#2: Connecting people for more efficient collaboration
Digital can give an enormous boost in the way people find and communicate with each other, irrespective of location, time zone, or device. Be it in a structured or in an ad hoc way, you can't encounter people who have the info that you need in the office corridors anymore.
A digital workplace allows them to connect to experts or peers, wherever they are.
#3: Streamlining and optimizing business processes in a digital way
Digital Workplaces help to execute business processes. As an enabler, the Digital Workplace should make it easier, more natural and more trivial for every employee involved to execute his day-to-day tasks, while the entire business process can remain compliant to quality standards and legislation.
#4 Fostering innovation
Innovation is hard, and usually results from aggregating lots of ideas, listening to feedback and thinking out-of-the-box. Digital Workplaces can help in collecting, sharing and discussing innovative ideas, more so than 10 people in a brainstorm meeting for a full day. They leverage the power of the crowd.
#5 Shaping and enhancing employee experience
Enabling collaborators by giving them 21st Century tools to work efficiently and flexibly increases motivation, and a sense of recognition and pride in belonging to the organization.
In the digital era this clearly benefits retention of the younger generation: human resources are of critical importance to companies who want to remain competitive, innovative and performing in the long term.
#6 Retention and sharing of knowledge
And I'll end the list with the most trivial one, which, as a Content Management professional, I almost forgot: the retention and sharing of knowledge across the entire organization.
Can a Digital Workplace help you achieve your strategic objectives?
The business drivers surely match some of the strategic objectives of your company for this year, or for the next three to five years. My advice is to look at those strategic objectives and see whether a Digital Workplace can help to achieve them.
This exercise will yield two hugely important things:
- A business case for any part of a Digital Workplace, even if it's only a small part. For example: if knowledge sharing across departments is one of the objectives, it might be a good idea to launch a social platform inside the company. Because it's backed by company objectives, defending the business case should not be that hard.
- A roadmap that shows in which logical sequence, priorities and timelines the Digital Workplace will evolve. Rome was not built in a day, and Digital Workplaces take years to mature. Starting small, with big results, is probably the best way of having a Digital Workplace grow at a steady pace.
The most common drivers for Digital Workplaces are assistance to enable Digital Transformation, more efficient collaboration, optimizing business processes, fostering innovation, enhancing employee experience and sharing of knowledge.
We strongly suggest you match your strategic objectives with these business drivers to detect whether a Digital Workplace can help you obtain these goals.
In the meantime, take a look at how Office 365 helps structure the digital workplace of a sales department.