Digital workplace initiatives – If you build it, will they come?

July 18, 2018 by

As world economies accelerate, more money is becoming available to leverage technological advances to create yet more advanced digital workplaces. Much attention is being paid to the creation of elegantly crafted, well thought-out interfaces, including dashboards, chatbots and even digital assistants such as Alexa, Siri and Cortana to conduct simple transactions and requests for information.

While this is welcome news for digital workplace practitioners, who have for years struggled to attract funding to move the field forward, it comes with a caveat – it is now critical for us to produce tangible business outcomes to go along with the “gee whiz” elements of our digital workplace experience. Deliver, and our organizations will come to view the digital workplace as an indispensable business asset, capable of driving key organizational direction and results. Our new DWG member research report, Digital workplace adoption strategies: Proven approaches to bring users on board, explores seven factors that industry leaders use to influence adoption, including the importance of alignment with key organizational drivers.

What makes a digital workplace “indispensable”?

Certainly, many things need to be done well in order to build something that becomes “indispensable” to members of the workforce:

  • The interface must be easy to use and learn.
  • It must connect to tools that consistently work the way they are designed to and that deliver results.
  • The overall experience must connect people to people in a useful, meaningful way.
  • Content is relevant, easy to find and up to date.
  • It helps if all of this is delivered in a manner that is fun, engaging and has the capacity to delight the user.

However, consider the case of the American consumer-to-consumer site, Craigslist.

Craigslist began in 1995 when Craig Newmark launched the website to connect people in the San Francisco area to events, items for sale and apartments for rent. The site is the antithesis of what we consider good web and intranet design today – it is a link farm connecting to dozens of lists of items for sale, for rent, seek to buys, personals and other items of interest. It is arguably not intuitive or easy to use, often connects to information that is already sold or out of date, and is not particularly engaging or delightful.

With one exception – it does something that is highly useful. It provides a clearing house between buyers and sellers of goods and services with a value in excess of US$1 billion every year.

Teams need to apply learnings from Craigslist within their organization. By positioning the digital workplace in tight alignment with key organizational drivers (something that individuals find useful), and designing it to enable the workforce to make those drivers a reality (giving individuals who use it a competitive edge), it becomes an indispensable tool both in the eyes of leadership and the workforce. By measuring the success of your digital workplace adoption through the lens of alignment and enablement of organizational drivers, you also connect to the C-suite in the most meaningful of ways.

Now let’s consider how we can make this kind of alignment possible:

  • Start with a clear understanding of the company vision. This is the DNA of your organization – the reason for its existence. In most cases, the connection won’t be as clear as it is with Craigslist… if so, proceed to point #2.
  • Identify what is important to senior management right now. Ask yourself: What priorities are senior leaders talking about right now? What outside pressures exist at present that threaten to change your business? Where does your organization intend to be 5 years from now?
  • Identify the ways a strong digital workplace accelerates progress toward that goal.  Can improved collaboration between two key business areas help to solve a vexing business problem? Customize a solution that addresses it. Would better access to accurate data accelerate innovation? Implement a strong content management plank to your plan. Is it difficult for employees to get their ideas heard? Create a platform to crowdsource solutions better. Your digital workplace should be tailored to solve the most vexing problem facing your leadership today… then expand to solve tomorrow’s most vexing problem, and so on.

If your digital workplace solves the most vexing problems of the organization and the individuals within it, it will become an indispensable business asset. Define adoption by how many business problems are solved, and measure adoption accordingly. By tying your definition of adoption to what the company wants to accomplish, you will ensure that you are always aligned with the larger forces in your organization, and therefore drive support, strategy and funding.

Digital workplaces are complex and vary greatly based on the needs of the organization and its employees. Teams need to meet many requirements to make theirs indispensable… this is just one important one!

Download a free excerpt from our Digital Workplace Adoption report!

Get access to the full report and 70+ other best practice digital workplace reports

DWG members have access to this full report, which contains great insights on adoption from industry leaders, including 7 factors that influence adoption. This report forms part of DWG’s best practice Research Library of 70+ reports covering key areas such as strategy and governance, personalization, user experience and change management for intranets and digital workplaces.

Find out what else is in the library and new research that’s coming up. Contact us to learn how to gain access to this library via DWG membership.



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Categorised in: Digital workplace, Research reports

Kevin Olp

Kevin is a DWG research associate, freelance consultant and business owner in the financial services industry. He has specialty in digital adoption, sustainability and change leadership. He worked previously as a digital workplace executive at Northwestern Mutual, where he sponsored the development and implementation of the company’s current intranet. He is passionate about the integration of diverse digital tools into a single, seamless experience for users, without constraints of time or location. Kevin lives with his wife Cheri in Milwaukee, WI, US, where they are awaiting grandchildren from any one of their five adult kids.

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