The digital workplace: The key to giving your business a competitive advantage

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The world is undergoing a paradigm shift toward a software-defined society. Software is fast becoming a substitute for ownership, management, labor, infrastructure, regulations, and more. Software models now capture enormous amounts of data that can transform our everyday experiences and reshape our lives.

Companies that want to stay relevant must meet shifting customer and market expectations. They must embrace digital transformation to deliver simple and effective services; quickly identify what isn’t working and design, test, and deploy service improvements; free up workers to focus on higher value tasks; and get closer to their customers.

Your transformation journey should begin with the digital workplace because digital transformation requires an organization-wide cultural shift to truly leverage the power of technology.

This post will help you uncover the benefits and challenges of the digital workplace and how it’s currently being used. Then we’ll highlight what causes digital workplace failure and share steps you can take to build your own digital workplace.

What is the digital workplace?

The digital workplace combines the physical world with the working environments of the modern mobile user, facilitating new possibilities for when, where, and how work happens. It may rely on hardware and software, but must be supported by people and improved processes, and governed by a set of policies and procedures.

Five key trends are driving the need for it:

  1. The consumerization of IT
  2. Today’s multi-generational workforce
  3. The rise of the social enterprise
  4. Intelligent experiences
  5. The demand for increased agility

Gartner expects the digital workplace to enable more effective ways of working, raise employee engagement, and exploit consumer-oriented styles and technologies. It can also deliver a variety of other benefits such as enhanced innovation, accelerated decision-making, better responsiveness to business needs, greater cross-company collaboration, higher staff retention rates and team morale, and enriched customer experiences.

While the benefits of a digital workplace certainly outweigh the drawbacks, there are a number of challenges you’ll need to overcome to ensure success, including the ability to:

  • Create a human-centered workplace
  • Cultivate digital culture
  • Prioritize the employee experience
  • Develop powerful incentives for change
  • Assemble a digital workplace taskforce
  • Integrate multiple and/or legacy solutions
  • Ensure business process changes align with new technology
  • Measure user preferences and satisfaction.

How companies are leveraging the digital workplace

Some version of the digital workplace exists in every company today. Its form depends on your industry, business needs, and the technologies deployed across your organization.

Healthcare institutions with lengthy pre-admission screening processes use it to capture patient information quickly with minimal training by using process-driven applications on mobile devices. This eliminates multiple paper forms and questionnaires, enables staff to access patient records anywhere at any time, and saves the business millions per year in employee retention.

Financial services organizations leverage technology to gain customer confidence, better manage their money, and foster deep, longstanding relationships. By developing and deploying a suite of mobile banking and lifestyle apps to smartphones and tablets, they can personalize customer service, simplify everyday business activities, transmit financial data securely, and improve communication between banking staff and customers.

Other businesses use the digital workplace to build complete information repositories that can be accessed faster and easier than the paper manual alternative. This allows for instant communication between experts and employees, which facilitates worker collaboration beyond geographical boundaries.

5 reasons why digital workplace programs fail

Developing a digital workplace program that satisfies the needs of different worker types across several generations can be daunting, but it’s crucial for your business to survive and thrive in the new digital economy.

Digital workplace initiatives often fall short due to a lack of vision, strategy, and tactics during the  planning phase. You can prevent failure by avoiding these five common mistakes:

  1. Viewing the workplace as a single place: Businesses today are constantly connected enterprises that operate from various locations around the globe. Organizations must provide their staff with access to corporate resources at any time, from any place, and on any device. They need to design the employee experience around mobility, identity management, and security to fulfill their workers’ expectations and ensure they’re more dynamic, diverse, and empowered than ever before.
  2. Not using standard products to avoid/limit customization: Most standard out-of-the-box tools will allow your company to meet its digital workplace demands because they’re cheaper to run, easier to manage, and simpler to modify as your workplace grows or your needs change. Choosing customized solutions over standardized products may increase your organization’s risk because they’re time consuming to implement and maintain, susceptible to cyberattacks, and occasionally, incompatible with any future updates.
  3. Focusing on technology, while ignoring the people the tools are made for: Don’t sacrifice employee engagement for digital workplace tools that may not meet their needs. Identify a clear business purpose for each technology and/or tool you select. This will help your organization increase its adoption and control shadow IT.
  4. Failing to plan for a range of interfaces and experiences: Application and experience preferences vary from one employee to the next. Because different interfaces offer different functions, workers want access to a variety of tools such as intranet homepages, classic and reporting dashboards, navigation, search interfaces, notifications and workflow, chatbots, and more so that they can pick the best one to accomplish the task at hand. Failure to plan for a range of interfaces and experiences will risk poor digital workplace adoption.
  5. Passing on usability testing: Usability testing saves time, delivers better results, and creates user buy-in because it ensures your company’s digital workplace meets the needs of its workforce. Businesses that pass on such testing won’t have the usability data required to drive consensus around decision-making and often find their users become critics instead of champions.

Best practices for developing a successful digital workplace program

Many factors can influence digital workplace adoption. Some of these include the lack of thought leadership within an organization or absence of stakeholder buy-in, failure to ensure that digital workplace initiatives align with the business’s strategy and/or vision, worker resistance to change, and the lack of a clear or definable return-on-investment (ROI).

You can eliminate these barriers and increase the adoption rate across your organization using the following process:

  1. Discover how your employees work and ways the digital workplace can support their various roles
  2. Determine which skills you’ll need to support a workplace transformation and identify any gaps
  3. Develop and communicate the corporate vision and digital workplace strategy, and define milestones/measures of success for your digital workplace initiatives
  4. Find internal champions and change leaders, and define the necessary roles and responsibilities
  5. Empower employees to act on the company’s vision and strategy through culture change and design thinking
  6. Select the right technologies, tools, and services after conducting a proof of concept (POC) or pilot
  7. Develop an appropriate deployment/rollout strategy (including relevant and contextual training for employees) and integrate the technologies, as appropriate
  8. Implement monitoring solutions to ensure everything is running as intended, and identify opportunities for performance improvements and cost savings
  9. Execute proper change management
  10. Share/report the digital workplace successes across the organization

Need assistance with your digital workplace strategy?

The future of work is the digital workplace. It can improve what your company does, the ways in which it works, and how it delivers value to its end users.

SHI’s Digital Workplace Envisioning workshop can help you realize your business goals and gain a sustainable competitive advantage while minimizing disruption.

Contact your SHI account executive to learn more.