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Work is currently undergoing a fundamental change. The notion of work being carried out at a fixed location is being eroded.  Through advanced connectivity, the proliferation of mobile devices and normalization of collaboration tools, technology is liberating work from the limitations of the physical office.

But we’re only just started down this path. At the Digital Workplace Forum (DWF) we believe that we are yet to fully understand the implications of these enormous changes. Whilst we can certainly sense the opportunities ahead and have a confident grasp of what the major challenges will be, we’re still collectively exploring the best way forward.  As technology continues to change ever more quickly and organizations experiment in this area, the landscape also continues to evolve.

This is why we’re now launching our “Streams of Investigation” program for 2012. During the “design phase” of the Digital Workplace Forum we engaged with numerous global organizations such as Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft. From our conversations it became clear that a priority for DWF was to research, curate and share some of the best practices happening in the Digital Workplace. We found organizations are eager to know what is happening in an area which is both critical and fluid.

For our initial “Streams of Investigation” program we plan to explore a different Digital Workplace  theme every quarter. This will be carried out in a variety of ways, including:

  • Pooling our own collective experiences and insights and those of our members
  • Speaking to practitioners from leading-edge organizations about what their activities and observations
  • Engaging with thought leaders in this space encompassing a range of different professional perspectives including IT, HR and Real Estate
  • Commissioning thought pieces and reports from leading thinkers and researchers in this space
  • Reviewing other research findings

Output will be released to members in different formats such as thought pieces, user cases and discussions on our monthly broadcast.  Some content will also be made publicly available.

At the end of each quarter the results of our investigations will be evaluated and collated into a definitive briefing paper which will be made available to members.

The four streams for 2012 are:

  • Business case for the Digital Workplace
  • Bring your own device (BYOD) and the consumerization of IT
  • Identity management
  • Digital Workplace usability

In more detail these quarterly themes are:

Q1: Business Case for the Digital Workplace

The Digital Workplace has fundamental opportunities to reduce costs (often through a reduction in office space), improve employee engagement through flexible and mobile working, and increase productivity.  However many organizations are still slow in grasping the opportunity. They tend to be reactive when they could be leading.

We plan to look in-depth at the benefits of the Digital Workplace so individuals and functions are better-placed to make a business case to senior management in order to instigate changes and formal programs.

Q2: Bring your own device to work and the consumerization of IT

Employees are increasingly bringing their own devices to use in the office, particularly mobile phones and tablets.  This offers a considerable challenge for IT departments who face a huge set of logistical issues, for example around security and supporting a plethora of different devices and non-approved software.   As this practice becomes the norm, the expectations of users have also shifted.  Can IT departments grasp the opportunities whilst simultaneously maintaining their basic support and risk management function?

Q3 Identity Management

Identity management is an over-arching and recurring theme in the Digital Workplace.  Technically it is central to providing a good user experience via Single Sign-On, but there are also other issues relating to security, data protection, privacy and the overlap between personal and corporate brands. This is particularly relevant with the increase in mobile work and use of external social networks.

Q4: Digital Workplace usability

Usability is a major issue facing the Digital Workplace.  Workplace technology now lags behind the consumer space in terms of the user experience.  For the majority of employees, using the Digital Workplace is both frustrating and fragmented with multiple log-ins, inconsistent practices and different data sitting in different systems.  As more work is carried out within the Digital Workplace, the pressure to improve usability is set to increase.

Our first stream of investigation is already underway. An excerpt from our report detailing some of our initial findings from our first quarter stream, The Business Case for the Digital Workplace, is now available to view.

About the author

Steve-BynghallSteve Bynghall is a research associate, benchmark evaluator and knowledge manager for DWG. He is also a freelance consultant, researcher and writer specializing in knowledge management, collaboration, intranet and social business. Steve previously worked at accountancy firm BDO in a variety of knowledge roles, including managing its global extranet programme. He recently co-wrote a book on crowdsourcing with Ross Dawson.

Steve is passionate about being able to work from anywhere, and is occasionally seen in local coffee shops with his trusty laptop. When not working, Steve can be found exploring London with his family.

Connect with Steve on Twitter: @bynghall or on Google +.

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