01 Feb 2017
A true digital workplace which works and brings radical improvement, needs to be seamless, smart, flexible and secure. It should redefine the way things are done, reduce the cycle time for processes, manage ambient knowledge and lead to higher stakeholder engagement and satisfaction.
Evolution of the concept
Email, Intranet and Groupware are the early ancestors of the digital workplace concept, but it has truly evolved only in the past decade. The term as a whole has become more distinct as organizations today understand the whats and whys of digital transformation.
As per Google trends the interest in the term “digital workplace” had been at a peak in 2004, dipped down and was low up until 2013 after which it has seen a constant increase.
According to Gartner,
54% of companies are partially or not at all involved in having a digital workplace.
46% of companies have specific digital workplace projects, and
only4%have a leader, who is actually taking its ownership.
Crux of the problem
In the last two decades we have seen variety of information management technologies enter the workplace. They all brought improvements, but only incremental, and they all suffer from some basic shortcomings which inhibit major productivity gains:
They exist mostly as silos, which leads to fractured enterprise information model with a lot of redundancy and no single version of truth.
They either manage unstructured information or structured data and cannot scale to big data and machine learning needs.
They are mostly isolated from context ( i.e. information is not embedded into processes, business objects and other relevant connections).
They are mostly powered by proprietary and legacy design, architecture and stack. They are thus expensive, unable to scale effectively, complex, and costly to manage.
They are not designed to be flexible, thus difficult and costly to tailor.
This creates plethora of problems, especially when occurring in combination, as is the case today.
In recent years analysts have tried to put together a picture of the ideal digital workplace. Gartner, McKinsey and others primarily suggest strategy, vision, technology, process automation, employee engagement, customer decision journey, organizational change, metrics, data and analytics, as the key building blocks of a digital workplace.
We believe, in order for the digital workplace to be effective, it cannot stop at merely being a combination of existing tools which are somehow brought together under an umbrella of a portal/platform brand. Instead it needs to be truly unified and enhanced with:
Seamless cross-functional workflows, collaboration and governance
New user experience design (UXD) and employee experience
Contextual information organization and Intelligent discovery
Fusion intelligence, which brings together structured data (i.e. transactional and time series data like revenue, pipeline, stock price) and unstructured information (i.e. documents, web pages, pictures or videos)
Productivity assistant - machine learning driven experience and insights engine, powered by the fusion of big data and content, guides and informs users to enhance productivity
Only then can information work in all its facets be adequately represented and thus supported by the digital workplace.
The true digital workplace solution in contemporary times must address these:
Help us improve the average productivity levels, by simplifying working together as a collective
Enables seamless workflows and collaboration by killing/minimizing silos
Provides a modernStack, Framework, and Experience to set the right foundation for an AI driven smarter future
Is designed for intelligence, flexibility, and agility
“Only such a modern and lean digital workplace can bring any meaningful advantage, else it's just another fad we will end up chasing.”
We have to kill most silos for seamless computing. If your critical data is fractured as there are many integrations, it will only bring incremental improvement but can never produce better intelligence (analytics to AI) and provide agility. We need to re imagine workplace collaboration and productivity for a truly digital workplace.
True Digital Workplace Solution = Seamless + Smart + Flexible + Secure
Organizations have many business units and functions, who work together towards a common goal to have more and delighted customers. Yet each may have its own protocols, processes and compliance to deal with, while at the same time need to maintain an organization-wide synchronization.
Image: Seamless Digital Workplace Framework
( The diagram provides a general representation of key common business functions across industries. It is representative only, and will vary for different industries. )
A true digital workplace solution must enable a seamless productivity experience, which provides smart discovery, sharing, collaboration and analytics. It is flexible to enable tailored use cases and scenarios.
Allows to knit seamless social and compliance workflows across the processes of order generation, order fulfillment etc, to enable cross-business collaboration.
Provides project management and research tools to enhance knowledge worker productivity. Project and task based collaboration in context of process flows enables a seamless digital work-grid for cross functional teams.
Knowledge and intelligence is managed in the flow. User experience knits structured and unstructured information in engaging ways.
Allows to define structured and unstructured data models, configure objects, flows, rules and permissions, based on organization chart, functions and processes. Supports modular framework to easily add custom features and applications.
A digital workplace is not restricted to only the employees, but gives the flexibility to collaborate and share content with partners as well as customers. The ambit of sharing has widened and this brings forth the issue of secure sharing.
We exist in an ecosystem where we experience the convergence of social media, cloud and mobile computing technologies, and storage of large amounts of information and accessibility across devices even in an offline mode, which makes digital security an absolute necessity.
Many organizations still believe, the introduction of the latest technology and devices is all that is required to digitally transform the work-space of their employees.
When in reality, the most important aspect is employee adoption which depends on a number of factors like relevance, easy user experience, simplifies day to day activities, enhances information productivity, access across devices, easy sharing and discovery of web content, task management, analytics and integration of most apps in one place.
The absence of integral tools leads to purchase of additional 3rd party tools, and further issues of compatibility along with the obvious increase in costs, leads to a higher than expected total cost of ownership. This further kills the chances of sufficient adoption.
It is difficult to create the ideal digital workplace, due to legacy lock-in, inertia to innovate and low risk appetite. But it is not impossible and is certainly an imperative for increased productivity, higher profits as well as employee retention and satisfaction.
The digital work-space of near future will not only simplify work but will also ignite enthusiasm to enable effectiveness and optimum productivity that leads to business transformation and success.
In our quest to create an effective, economic and progressive way to manage our work digitally, we proudly present crrux.com as our first small step towards an exciting future.
We are gradually inviting new users for Crrux and would love to have you on board.Please share your email address and we'll send you an invite soon.