There is a lot of buzz around the “Digital Workplace,” and the need to transform business systems and processes, but there continues to be some confusion not only around the definition of the Digital Workplace, but what it takes to successfully transform your business. While much of this transformation revolves around technology, the fact remains that there is no single system, tool, or platform that can provide all of the capabilities you need to run your business. Instead, you will need to select the right solutions that will meet both your technical and cultural requirements.
Transforming your internal systems and business practices is about improving the ways in which you interact with your customers, partners, and employees, taking advantage of the latest technology to streamline and automate wherever possible. The vision of the Digital Workplace is an organization that is more quickly able to respond to industry and economic changes, better able to capture the collective knowledge and expertise of their employees, and capture and leverage that knowledge to innovate ahead of their competitors.
Technology, Process, and People
For many years now, SharePoint has served a pivotal role in helping organizations transform their businesses, providing many of the core collaboration and communication capabilities that are needed to help employees move more seamlessly between disparate systems and processes. Of course, as many organizations experienced with their SharePoint deployments, technology alone will not guarantee success. You also need to ensure that key business processes are aligned with your technology – but that alignment is only the first step.
With more than 200 million SharePoint users worldwide according to Microsoft, the software allows users to collaborate on files, on storing and synchronizing group work files, and on document management. Yet the AIIM study, ‘The Impact of SharePoint – 2016,’ completed by 274 respondents, reveals that “SharePoint 2016 has the potential to continue to be an underused piece of software for many enterprises,” warned Bob Larrivee, vice president and chief analyst, AIIM. bit.ly/2q6Qk9G
The key to success of your Digital Workplace strategy is your team. More specifically, success is a byproduct of an organizational culture where sharing and communication are the standard practice. SharePoint enables team members to share more and communicate better, but if people don’t use the tools they have, they won’t recognize the benefits.
We’ve all experienced failed technology deployments due to a lack of end user adoption. Without employee adoption and engagement, the technology and processes will be rendered useless. The solution may have met all of the requirements, initial pilots may have been deemed successful, but if employees do not use the solution, it will be viewed as a failure.
One of my favorite books on community development is “The Social Organization” by Bradley and McDonald, in which the authors highlight research showing that success has more to do with how companies approach problems, and their ability to quickly leverage the capabilities available to them to find the right tool, process or methodology, or person to solve each unique problem. Successful companies recognize that no single tool or platform can solve all business problems, nor meet the needs of geographically dispersed teams.
Crossing the Usability Gap
Collaboration has become an enterprise necessity. If you’re struggling to keep up with the pace of innovation coming out of Microsoft, you’re not alone. We’re rapidly moving into an era of intelligent, social, and dynamic solutions that learn from our behaviors and adapt to our changing needs. The Digital Workplace puts communication and collaboration at the center of the work, helping to move the dialog from email and document-centric conversations toward business outcomes.
It’s not that these other technology platforms go away – they become tools for achieving business outcomes. When organizations are able to make this shift in thinking – giving technology, process, and people equal footing in the planning process – they will find that employees become more engaged, processes are more efficient, and more business value is achieved through existing email and enterprise content management (ECM) platforms.
The problem for most organizations is in keeping pace with the rapid changes in technology, and the massive amounts of content and data being created. How companies manage this content and data is often based on outdated administrative controls, which fit the old ways of doing business – but not these new systems and processes. As control over content and data rises, usability of these systems goes down – and workers begin to go around the approved processes. This is sometimes referred to as “Shadow IT.” What it indicates is a usability gap between what employees need to get their work done quickly and efficiently, and IT’s desire to keep things managed and compliant.
Because a set of new features might be complicated, and security and metrics unclear, administrators may be loath to support it, and decide not to enable them… which then impacts end user adoption, because users are not getting the features they want and need.
Building Internal Advocacy
Collaboration fails when your planning does not begin and end with the end user experience. One of the key benefits of a collaborative platform like SharePoint is in helping teams connect and share content and activities where before there had been data and work stream silos. How you manage your collaboration platform – from engineering activities, to risk management and compliance audits, to the overall change management and IT ticket prioritization – is essential to your ongoing success.
If the goal is a collaborative digital workplace, organizations’ journey must start with user adoption. Without adoption, they cannot iterate and improve their processes which is required to drive engagement on their way to building a collaborative Digital Workplace.
I am a huge advocate for identifying and supporting internal advocacy, and was happy to work with Colligo to co-author their latest eBook on supporting Digital Workplace Heroes. In this eBook, our goal was to provide guidance for teams in identifying these advocates, and provide them with tips and best practices for helping to rewire organizational culture for the transformational change required to become a Digital Workplace.
It is an excellent resource for managers who are trying to understand the change required to move toward your Digital Workplace strategy, as well as for employees and subject-matter experts who want to help their organization succeed by becoming a Digital Workplace Hero. Download your copy today, and please share your feedback!