The Evolution of the Digital Workplace
Earlier this week we hosted a round table event to discuss the evolution of the Digital Workplace. We were joined by 12 Industry leaders from a broad range of industries and backgrounds for an evening of discussion and dinner. Thanks to our co-sponsors Microsoft and our hosts Nimbus Ninety for making this event such a success.
We centred the discussion on three topics that continue to inform and intrigue our conversations with customers. Unusually for me it was a change to mostly listen, absorb and reflect on our strategy and approach, and how we might improve.
The topics we addressed over the course of the evening were:
- What are the main features of the digital workplace?
- How do you build a business case for workplace transformation?
- How do you ensure a consistently user-centered approach across workplace transformation initiatives?
There were a number of key insights and findings from what was a thoroughly enjoyable evening of discussion and debate. I’ll cover each of these in turn
It’s NOT about technology
All too often Digital Workplace programmes are rooted in technology change agendas. The Windows 10 transformation, the Office 365 deployment of the deployment of new mobile tools. However, our discussion did not once cover a technology solution area. Of course a couple of solution examples were given to bring points to life, but the conversation centred on a more outcome based approach that can be fulfilled by a range of both technology and procedural responses. For us, as an IT supplier and integrator, it was refreshing and intriguing to elevate ourselves above the technology level and focus in depth on the business value and outcomes from the change agenda.
It IS about People and Culture
A large portion of the evening was spent discussing the user and cultural impact of technology and business change and how to deliver this into your users. Remembering the connection between the internal users (employees/colleagues) and the external users (consumers) of your services. Is there a distinction? Should there be?
What is clear is that many organisations are wrestling with this change, and in a fiercely competitive economy the war for talent is a very real thing. If you fail to engage or enable your users they will simply move to an alternative employer or industry. This is a startling reality that is affecting many businesses and industries now
It IS about a consumer levels of simplicity
I often cite a Gartner definition of Digital workplace, which references a “consumer like experience” in an enterprise context. The feedback from our discussion was overwhelming. It is not about “consumer like” – which infers an attempt to achieve the principles of elegance and simplicity that underpin the digital consumer tools upon which we are all so reliant. The aspiration is for an experience that is equivalent to our consumer experiences. No compromises.
For many this will be a new challenge. We know what good looks like from a consumer perspective, yet we get bogged down in the translation of this to an enterprise context. Various examples were cited of adopting consumer like tools and approaches, yet the enterprise challenges of security and compliance are very real and must not be understated
How do you build and deliver internal platforms that are as intuitive as what we enjoy in our home lives? How do you ensure the “inside out” support experience looks and feels the same as the “outside in” (consumer) lens of their engagement to your organisation to ensure common understanding and empathy? To not strive for this creates a barrier between your employees and your customers that your competitors will be actively looking to exploit with a better platform or better service model.
It IS about Change
We discussed “digital” at length. The context of the evening was “Digital Transformation” but there was an agreement and recognition that organisations have been evolving and changing for a long time. Digital is merely the mantra that is being used at the moment. In order to execute the changes that organisations are trying to achieve, all the classic approaches and principles remain true. The need to secure engagement at every level, from executive to grass roots. The need to address the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) and the need for strong sponsorship and support to drive the initiatives in both the good times and the challenging times is key.
We spoke about adoption, the challenges here are twofold:
- In not communicating what you are doing, and why, to secure engagement and support that will ultimately lead to usage (adoption) and value to your business
- In declaring success too early. Delivering a solution or outcome and presuming it to be a success, not cognisant that users and consumers can be fickle and there’s a need to continually reinforce and underpin the initial success with an ongoing campaign to promote long term benefits.
NO ONE has all the answers
We brought together 12 leaders from enterprise organisations across a number of verticals. The opportunity to discuss and engage with like-minded people was an invaluable use of time. What was clear was that no one has all the answers, and we should take time not only to learn from our external influences (such as our consumer lives) but from colleagues and peers in adjacent industries. What is clear is we live in a time of unprecedented choice and rate of change, no one has done everything and there is no blueprint for guaranteed success. Sharing knowledge and expertise is fundamentally a core facet of what the Digital Workplace seeks to achieve…. And we learnt a lot from participating in the discussion.
Thanks again to all our guests and our co-hosts Microsoft and Nimbus Ninety for participating in an enjoyable and insightful debate.