“The digital workplace is much more than technology. It is a blend of capabilities, enablers and above all, mindset” – Jane McConnell, The Digital Workplace in the Connected Organization
In her 182-page report, Jane McConnell examines how the digital workplace impacts and is impacted by organisational processes, structures, leadership, culture and mindset.
After surveying over 300 organisations across the globe, McConnell looks at the difference between the early adopters and the majority. ‘Early adopters’ (20% of the respondents) are the most advanced in their digital workplace journey, whereas the ‘majority’ (the remaining 80%) are still at a conceptual or very early stage.
While the digital workplace is still a relatively new concept for many businesses, it’s encouraging that some companies are moving forward. Early adopters are implementing multiple collaborative, mobile and social initiatives. This is something to consider and learn from.
McConnell suggests a number of insights:
The digital workplace helps organisations be smart, flexible and customer focused
‘Organisational intelligence’ is the number one strategy driver for early adopters, while ‘efficiency and cost savings’ is the number one for the majority. “Both are obviously important,” writes McConnell, “but organisations focused on building their intelligence see the future differently from those focused on saving costs, and will prioritize different activities.”
Collaboration for business purposes is established in early adopters
Communities are becoming an official part of organisational design. Early adopters are giving them key roles in knowledge management and decision-making. They are professionalising the role of the Community Manager, many making it a full-time job.
Project management is moving from document sharing tools to social networks, making it easy for people outside the project team to provide expertise and input when helpful.
Enterprise Q&A is providing purpose to social networking and micro-blogging, letting people and experts who do not know each other personally to share knowledge.
Early adopters have more participatory cultures where people “work out loud” and innovation is open to everyone
Organisational cultures in early adopters tend toward teamwork, encouraging initiatives and learning from mistakes. “Cultures in the majority have these values, but to a much lesser degree and lean a little more toward individual competition, following the rules and discouraging entrepreneurial initiatives.”
Working out loud refers to “a way of working where you narrate and/ or execute your work openly.” The research looked at three aspects, all of which were widely deployed by early adopters:
• Sharing information and knowledge with others through the use of blogs, wikis or other tools;
• Co-creation of content where people and teams work jointly to build and maintain content in wikis, team spaces, or in a “corporate-pedia”;
• Enabling people throughout the organisation to make comments and react to official news, published information and content.
Internal crowdsourcing is deployed enterprise-wide by well over half the early adopters. “Many of them report “transformative” or “significant” impact on their organisations. People in these organisations are able to propose ideas in response to an issue, a challenge, a need, etc., and to interact with other people’s ideas by using crowdsourcing, ideation, enterprise jams or other tools.”
In addition to these new ways of working, the physical workplace design is evolving toward “non-territorial” styles, notes McConnell. “Early adopters report fewer individually “owned” desks and offices and more communal and break-out areas and bookable spaces and offices.”
Mobile services for the workforce will be implemented in 30 to 40 percent of organisations by late 2014
Employees are increasingly deciding how they want to work and which tools suit them best regardless of corporate policies. “The relatively high figures for ‘discourages but accepted’ reflect a new reality check for companies and a de facto acceptance for personal devices used for work purposes.”
McConnell notes how BYOD is nearly mainstream now, with official policies in place for half of the early adopters. “It started with BYOD and now includes BYOPC (personal computer) and BYOA (apps).
Real time communication (voice and video) is bringing people closer, building relationships across silos
Many people described real-time voice combined with video as “transforming the way we work.” Conversations are moving from email to real-time video conferencing and messaging. “Organisations reported faster decision-making and virtual water cooler discussions as bringing people together in spite of geographical distance.”
Business functions are active in the digital workplace and operational managers are key to driving change
Although communications and IT are the primary decision-makers for the digital workplace, early adopters are nearly twice as likely to have operational management and CEO-level management “very involved” in strategic decision-making than the majority. The findings suggest that nearly half of early adopters’ core business processes are deployed enterprise-wide, and that operational people are “actively using the digital workplace” in their daily work. Finally, line of business such as engineering, operations and legal are more active in social collaborative initiatives in early adopters than in the majority.
Information management and enterprise search are not on the radar today
The study found that satisfaction with enterprise search is low. Only 14 out of 314 organisations considered to be at the highest level of optimization where “information is considered to be an asset like financial and material assets.” “However”, points out McConnell, “early adopters are making structured efforts to improve it and have a higher rate of satisfaction as a result”.
Early adopters report that top managers are not just vocally supportive, but also act as role models
Over half of early adopters positioned the digital workplace as a strategic part of the enterprise change. “In these organisations, top management is vocally supportive (88%), act as role models (58%) and are a driving force (46%). Needless to say, the figures are much lower for the majority.”
Conclusions – The digital workplace is a journey
For the majority, the journey can look like a real challenge. However, they could use McConnell’s findings as an awareness tool to identify potential action areas.
Throughout the report there are a number of useful charts and examples where insights are explored in more detail. The study also provides a scorecard and a framework to help organisations understand where they stand today, define a vision and transform it into reality.
If you believe in the digital workplace in the connected organisation, reading this manual might just be the best investment of your time.