Monday, 30 July 2018

The age of the Digital Workplace Transformation

Almost every week now I find myself discussing Digital Workplace Transformation with CIOs, CFOs and IT Managers alike.  It’s the new buzz word ‘on the street’ but what does it really mean? And is it relevant to your business?  
Over the last four or five years, I’ve seen this ‘Transformation process’ evolve, from Business Transformation, to Desktop Transformation, Application Transformation & now Digital Workplace Transformation.  The approach is clearly a logical evolution of their predecessors but in my opinion, the drivers for these transformations are also now changing. 
The days of business IT being driven by an application are long behind us, if anything the end user employee is now at the heart of these transformations, empowered to put forward their case for how their workplace and style affects their productivity and their overall wellbeing. 

So why is it important?
The touchpoints that our employees have within their workplaces play a vital role in how they stay motivated, informed, and engaged with what they do. This is especially true for businesses with large, widely distributed workforces.  The ability to provide rapid innovation, necessitates modern tools that can effectively keep all employees fully informed.
This requirement, combined with the growing focus on work/life balance, flexible hours, and the ability to work from multiple locations (including ‘home’), means that companies must provide their employees—including offline and non-desk workers—with an employee experience that is truly mobile. 
Enabling your workforce to engage with co-workers and information wherever they are and whenever they choose is a differentiator in the increasingly competitive market for attracting talent and creating the positive employee experiences necessary for businesses in today’s market to thrive.

What is driving this change? 
Motivated employees understand their contribution to the company and its success, they no longer want to sit in the background and work alone in their day-to-day functions. Instead they very much want to be involved and offer their input where possible to feel a part of the team – (herein should form the basic communication requirements of your Workplace Strategy). 
‘Generation Y’ or ‘Millennials’, now make up the single largest group in our labour force, with ‘Generation Z’ or ‘iGen’s’ not far behind! And so, engaging this generation has become a top priority for many businesses in their visions for the future and whilst addressing their market appeal.  According to a recent Microsoft study, 67 percent of employees use their personal devices at work, irrespective of their company's official BYOD policy.  
This trend continues to expand as employees feel more engaged and motivated when they can use their own devices for business purposes. In addition, I also read recently that by 2020, as a direct result of the changing need to communicate and engage - there are expected to be 639 million paid users of enterprise social networks…

How and where does a Digital Workplace strategy fit into my business?
Most businesses albeit different sizes, sectors, age, working styles etc etc - will often come back to similar conclusions when looking into the use-cases to be addressed by their Workplace strategy.  These are broken down in my experience, into Communication, Collaboration, Knowledge & Process. 
Communication– will include the sharing of time sensitive or mission critical information to staff, customers and/or stakeholders. 
Collaboration- which often looks largely toward Intranets & shared resources, improving the ability to work in unity on projects, documents (whilst maintaining the levels of security required of the business). 
Process– The part that focusses in on the expectation of the business to provide and conform to a standard, often set out within their industry – typically Human Resources, Customer Relationship Management & Enterprise Resource Planning tools etc.
Knowledge – Often linking toward the structure of data systems, how easy it is to access and locate resources for utilisation in the day-to-day positions of the business? 

Who is the Digital Workplace aimed at?
‘Knowledge Workers’ are typically seen as the main users of a digital workplace, and often current strategies are designed specifically for these people.  In many workplaces however, still exist desk worker finance & Human resource departments, along with Temporary and contract workers, subcontractors, remote workers and even some outsourced (yet inclusive) functions! 
Until now, these people couldn’t be reached by a typical digital workplace strategy that was only accessible on company owned and provided devices.  This is why going mobile on the personal devices of your employees is one of the key requirements in the enterprise digital age.

Should this include your mobility strategy:
Supporting mobile users must be part of any successful digital workplace strategy, especially in large, dispersed organisations, allowing for greater connectivity in regards to employee communication and productivity—utilising technology like mobile online meetings, online training, video learning, centralised document editing & application consumption.
Making functionality easily available on personal mobile devices means an employee app that can meet several specific requirements but most of all is secure, easy to use, none-intrusive and as flexible as possible.
Utilising Virtualisation technologies combined with BYOD, the ability to publish applications, enforce policies and remain impartial to the user’s own device is actually a very real possibility - and it should be considered as an essential part of your overall Workplace strategy. 

In summary: The Employee Is the Heart of the Digital Workplace
It’s important to remember that a digital workplace strategy is a program, not a project, and its implementation must start by taking into account the internal and external insights of your workforce, followed by continued improvement and refresh cycles in line with the digital presence and participation of senior management.  The ultimate point of a sound digital workplace strategy is to build a more effective, more efficient business.  A unified workplace application which delivers everything surrounding the four main criteria set out to achieve - is the best tool for this job. 
More than “just an app,” it will be a single communication hub for the entire business that’s mobile but also works great on desktops, laptops, tablets & more.
Thought of in this way, your digital workplace strategy will attract, develop and retain staff – which in turn will strengthen your business moving forward into the digital age. 

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