What is a digital workplace, and why does it matter?
A few years ago I was working on a project for a client in Sydney. On my first day, I stopped at a cafe and ordered a long macchiato to take away.
The coffee was good, so I went back the next day.
“Good morning,” the barista said. “Same again?”
I bought coffee from that cafe almost every day for the rest of the project.
The fact that she remembered my order made me feel valued, especially since the barista at my local coffee shop never remembers what I want, and being a creature of habit I’ve made the same order there for years.
This experience reminds me a little of intranets.
When an intranet is high performing, like the barista in the first example, you have the right information presented to you immediately. The intranet understands your role in the organisation and anticipates what you need.
On the other hand, when an intranet is underperforming, it’s a pain to use. Even though the content might be good, it is not delivered in a way that makes you want to go back. Or perhaps the content itself is static and hasn’t been updated in months.
People like to visit coffee shops with great service. In the same way, end users prefer intranets that are intuitive and easy to use. An intranet that doesn’t understand you and your preferences is not in hot demand in 2016.
Today, the best intranets are not just intranets. They are functional, flexible and growing platforms for the digital worker. Organisations are thinking less about intranets as places to find things, but places to do things.
In this post, we’ll look at how intranets are evolving into digital workplaces, why it matters and easy ways for you to get started.
What is a digital workplace?
A digital workplace is a next step in the evolution of intranets.
Intranets used to be static platforms for locating information. Today, analysts say they are becoming intersections of “people, organisation and technology… They involve fundamental changes in work practices, mindset, leadership and behaviour.”
Digital workplaces merge social platforms, location-based services and user-centric designs to create online environments that are relevant, useful and collaborative.
They give organisations the tools to:
- harness social information and connections
- improve processes
- collaborate more effectively
- work across geographical boundaries with teams, in real time
- get a seamless mobile experience across devices.
The five hallmarks of an effective digital workplace
Developing a digital workplace means repositioning your intranet as a central communication, knowledge and activity ecosystem that connects people, data and processes.
The best digital workplaces have these five things in common.
- Collaboration tools
Social tools are one of the biggest trends in enterprise technology right now. From tibbr to Jive, Yammer, Convo, Socialcast, Chatter and Socialtext, there are plenty of enterprise communication tools to choose from.
When combined with an intranet, these tools make for a more interactive and engaged user experience. Employees use collaboration tools for online meetings, brainstorms and document reviews. This reduces reliance on email and prevents information getting lost in people’s inboxes.
- Personalised content
Intranets can feel overwhelming. There is content everywhere. Information is in silos. All you want to do is find the right document!
By understanding and presenting users information that is targeted to their role or function within an organisation, you can greatly reduce the time spent locating and storing information. Taking it further, predictive intelligence further takes the stress out of finding information. Information discovery tools like Delve serve up relevant content based on your role, projects and team members simply through end user interactions.
In addition to predictive intelligence, digital workplaces also offer the chance to personalise content and access, based on user roles.
- Power in the hands of end users
Wouldn’t it be great to have data insights and business intelligence at your fingertips? Instead of going to the help desk or asking developers to build reports, you use could business tools to get business information.
It sounds simple. That’s because it is.
Digital workspaces provide employees and even customers with self-service tools to quickly locate information and understand data without relying on expensive IT resources.
- Integration with other business applications
Unlike in days gone by, intranets should not be siloed from other applications. A true digital workplace integrates intranet with social collaboration tools and other line-of-business applications. You shouldn’t need to update your contact information in your social tool and in your HR system. You needn’t have a different account and credentials for every web-based tool you use.
Integration and consolidation ensure you get the most from both your intranet and other technology investments.
- Mobile, mobile, mobile
People used to do all their work at their desks. They didn’t need on-the-go access to information sharing and collaborative tools.
It is a different story today. Employees need to be able to access data and collaborate with team members, whether they are in the office, in a hotel lobby at a conference in Indonesia or a bus stop in Brisbane.
That is why effective digital workplaces offer anywhere, anytime access to corporate information and social tools.
Even though my local barista can’t remember my order, and often even gets what I ask for wrong, the coffee is still decent enough that I go back a few times a week.
Traditional intranets are similar. They’re enough to get by, but they don’t deliver the best possible user experience.
If you want your organisation to reach its full information sharing and collaboration potential, you need to take the next step: transforming your intranet into a digital workplace.
See how SharePoint 2016 can help you transform your business into a digital workplace. Register here.
You can read more about Professional Advantage and SharePoint here.