Everyone has a Digital Workplace, it’s just a question of how it’s managed

Some businesses have intranets, some do not. Some use ERP tools, some deploy CRM, some declare themselves “O365 houses” or align to Salesforce, Oracle, Facebook or other tech megalith, but all — every one of them — has a digital workplace. A digital workplace is the collection of tools that the company provides, or the employee sources, to get their job done, so the logic dictates that every company that has employees that are using technology, has an active digital workplace. It may not be complete, mature, cohesive nor engaging but it’s definitely there.

Given that every organisation has a digital workplace, we’re left with some startling foundational questions to answer:

Are you managing it, or is it just happening by default?

Unless you can readily identify someone in your organisation with Digital Workplace responsibility — and maybe it’s you — then there’s a good chance you’re not actively managing your DW. The individual tools and services may have appointed product owners, but that doesn’t mean that the DW as a holistic entity is under control. Managing the constituent parts is not the same as managing the whole. We know how businesses work: there’s every chance that the DW is being left to seed; left to chance.

Where are you going with your digital workplace?

Let’s say you’re in the lucky minority and the DW has a sponsor of some kind. Good news? Possibly. Is there a published strategy somewhere? Are there stated business objectives for your digital workplace? Is there a clearly defined employee experience they want to provide?

The roadmap for the foundational technologies for your digital workplace cannot simply be replicated and relabelled “My company DW strategy”, even if you can are lucky enough to squeeze that information out of these cloud-driven subscription service providers. It’s not good enough to follow them blindly: your company’s DW needs to align with your company’s business strategy and that, more than likely, is unique and rather different to Microsoft’s or Facebook’s. Following these tech giants blindly, paying their seemingly small $ per person per month for years without question, is exactly what they’d like. Take the time to understand your users’ needs in detail and challenge providers to meet these rather than allow your organisation to be blinded by the latest new platform or tool. Challenge yourselves, too, and be certain that what you’re buying is what your business needs.

Everyone has a digital workplace

I was at a conference a few weeks back and I asked a fellow delegate what their digital workplace strategy was and I was struck by their response: “We don’t have a digital workplace, just an intranet”. A few years back, this response would have made sense, when “digital workplace” was synonymous with “advanced intranet”, that is one that did more than communications. But a Digital Workplace now is an ecosystem, an aggregation, a rock of many minerals, of which the intranet is a common core element. Everyone has one, it’s just a question of how it’s managed.