Insight

Does Your Business
Leader Know What a Digital Workplace is?

 

by Nathan Wells
(Konvergent Chief Digital Workplace Architect)

The Digital Workplace is something all forward-thinking organisations should be planning or already possess in one form or another.   The current market conditions have thrown Digital Workplaces right to the forefront of organisational thinking, as companies who previously underinvested in the technology have struggled mightily, while those organisations with effective Digital Workplaces have thrived and their employees have remained productive.  However, do your business leaders actually know what a Digital Workplace is and are you able to correctly explain to them what it means?

For decision-makers, the idea of a Digital Workplace is a slightly nebulous concept that is difficult to define, and a cursory google search will bring back dozens of definitions about what it entails and should consist of. These range from a simple intranet, to a collaboration platform, to a technology rollout of Microsoft 365.   

The reality is something a bit different, and our approach to a Digital Workplace is somewhat more holistic. To truly unlock the benefits of a Digital Workplace, we believe you need to bring what was traditionally referred to as End User Technology or End User Computing into the fold. It is impossible to provide a revolutionary experience to your users unless some of the underpinning capabilities like Identity and Access Management, Security, and Device/Endpoint Management are addressed too. 

This article provides a definition of the Digital Workplace based around the capabilities it should provide, and offers some advice for decision-makers on how to tackle what may seem to be an overwhelmingly huge area of technology.  

What’s our definition of the Digital Workplace?

To Konvergent, the Digital Workplace is the plumbing that sits beneath every employee in an organisation and allows them to be effective and productive in their role.  

  • It is a set of tools and services that are not role-specific, not affiliated with any particular business unit, and not aligned to a single back-office function like HR, Finance, Legal, or IT. It is the backbone that enables an individual employee to be productive and create tangible output from any location or device.   
  • It is the foundational technology that allows teams to work together collaboratively, get things delivered, and store their outputs.  
  • It is the suite of services that gives an organisation the means to create, manage and disseminate its information, content and knowledge in a way that provides maximum benefit to employees.   
  • It also encompasses other elements, like the device users’ need to access the tools and services, and the identity and access management capabilities the organisation must have in place to ensure its information is kept safe and secure.  

The diagram below shows where the Digital Workplace should be positioned relative to other technology in the enterprise: it is a fundamental, underpinning set of capabilities, in much the same way Data or Cloud capabilities support all departments within an organisation and provide the plumbing for other systems and services.  

It’s one of the critical technology areas that an enterprise must have in place, or else its ability to deliver saleable products or services will be hampered. A well-implemented and mature Digital Workplace can give a competitive and commercial advantage, and the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a 100,000 lumens torch on just what happens if you haven’t done a good enough job enabling these digital capabilities. Organisations are quite literally going out of business because they didn’t have a Digital Workplace to help keep people productive while they weren’t able to access their physical workplace.  

Going Deeper Into The Definition – A Business Capability Model

When we speak to our business stakeholders about what a Digital Workplace should encompass, we use our standard capability model. Please note that we’ve played a little fast and loose with the dictionary definition of a business capability in a couple of instances here. However, we find it helps people understand what a Digital Workplace should encompass more effectively if the capabilities relate directly to actual activities most of us undertake daily. Ultimately a Capability Model is a tool that should be used to shine a light on how a business truly operates.  

The key with this model is the divide between the user-facing capabilities and the ones that underpin them that might more traditionally be associated with End User Computing. It is not easy to deliver a good Digital Workplace without addressing some of those foundational pieces as well. 

When we are explaining the capability model to the business, we tend to use the following terms and definitions.    

How Do You Go About Delivering Something Like This?

A Digital Workplace capability model like that above is a useful tool to drive your technology roadmap definition. It’s unlikely any organisation will be in a budgetary position to implement and mature all of these capabilities in one fell swoop (indeed, even attempting a transformation this enormous would usually be a fool’s errand). However, understanding where your most significant pain points are, where you would gain the most benefit, and where you are least mature in comparison to other companies is a great place to start.

You can start to build a roadmap of transformation initiatives, supported by a well-defined operating model for the Digital Workplace, and make incremental improvements that will stack up and revolutionise your business over time. Choosing which capabilities to light up and when on this capability model is something we can help with. After this, it’s all about standing up the right programmes of work, operating models, and governance structures to run the Digital Workplace long-term.

If you haven’t invested significantly in your Digital Workplace, now is the time to do it, before your competitors start to leave you behind thanks to their more efficient, productive, flexible workforce that’s been enabled by the capabilities we’ve outlined here.

Covid-19 has caused businesses to fast forward into the future of work by transforming and blending people and technology in what has been possibly the most challenging and dynamic business environment of our times, causing Digital Workplace to become a powerful force. Leaders need to understand the large-scale shifts in how people work and how business gets done, and successful leaders have responded adequately to the situation. We know that getting buy-in from senior stakeholders right now is extremely hard, for any form of investment, but we hope that our approach could help you open doors that were previously locked.

Please watch out for our fabled Konvergent Roundtable invite on the subject.