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You could have picked me up from the floor. A major oil company (not a DWG member of course given the lessons here) was upgrading all its digital workplace services – but only for the “knowledge workers” in their offices. “What about the guys in the field? Are they not in the mix here?” The reply was a rather tame confession that the hard grafters out on the oil rigs and driving the trucks were not to be part of this digital overhaul.

But this company is not rare. Too often I see large-name organizations who seem to regard the frontline as second in line for the “digital gold” as if they are lesser workers in the organization’s mind. My reply is always along the lines: at some point you will bring powerful, intelligent knowledge and services to everyone in your company, so why wait?

And when everyone is included – as they are at the likes of Verizon, Burberry, Nike and IKEA – it not only brings extra firepower to where it is most needed but also sends a potent message across the organization. We are all in this together and there is no “centre” and “field” but instead one collective workforce trying to make the whole thing as successful as possible. This powerful message shapes the culture while the new services enable efficiency.

Sure, it is not easy. Cost, security and governance are all required, but imagine if you decided to leave one major subset of your key customers cut off from the digital services you offer due to a reluctance to overcome such challenges? Run that one past the head of marketing or sales!

So, if the mobile frontline is inevitable and it’s going to happen at some point – then now is as good (or even better) a time as any.

And on a semi-related matter, if you would like to listen to my conversation about “being yourself at work” with two great guests from Adobe and Riot Games, then do subscribe to my podcast and listen to Episode 1 of Digital Workplace Impact.

About the author

Paul Miller is CEO and Founder of the Digital Workplace Group (DWG), rated by the Financial Times in 2020 and 2021 as one of the UK’s leading management consultancies in digital transformation.

Paul is a business and social entrepreneur. His latest book is ‘Nature of Work – The new Story of Work for a Living Age’ (co-authored with Shimrit Janes). His previous book, The Digital Renaissance of Work: Delivering digital workplaces fit for the future (co-authored with Elizabeth Marsh), was shortlisted for the Management Book of the Year 2016 Award. Paul’s first book, The Digital Workplace: How technology is liberating work, helped to popularize and explain the term “digital workplace”. Paul has given many inspirational talks on the digital future of work, for audiences at Microsoft, IKEA, Google, Accenture, Harvard Business Review, Cisco, European Commission, IMF, Adobe and Oxford University. He hosts the Digital Workplace Impact podcast.

Paul hosted the pioneering internet radio show Digital Workplace Live and is Executive Producer of the 24-hour global digital experience DWG24.

Prior to founding DWG, Paul was Founder and CEO of communications company The Empowerment Group; Publisher and Editor of social and digital innovation magazine “Wave”; and, in pre-internet days, co-founder of the Ideas Café salon. He lives in the Cotswolds in the UK.

See more about Paul Miller on Wikipedia

Connect with Paul on Twitter: @paulmillersays

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