Digital disruption is coming, and short of packing up everything and moving to one of the most remote place on Earth (here are some ideas, in case you’re interested), employees and employers need to learn how to ride the wave.
Paul Miller, CEO and founder of Digital Workplace Group, gives his top 10 predictions of what trends to look for and what to do when the inevitable happens … with some practical case studies.
1. Experience will become the heartbeat of digital workplace strategies.
Inside Adidas, what matters for employees, contractors and the wider freelance workforce is what they experience in their daily work while navigating the digital workplace of one of the world’s leading brands. But what really matters to each person is what they experience moment to moment as they try to do their jobs productively, efficiently and enjoyably. As we see more and more user experience units springing up inside companies, the focus will become more heavily accented on the specific digital experiences of people – just as it so often is in the online consumer world.
2. Digital workplace teams will envision new “digital headquarters” that mirror refashioned physical HQs.
While the flurry of innovatively conceived new offices will continue, what will also start to appear is an equivalent “digital vision” that can at least match the attractions of these physical workplaces.
Teams will map out their digital headquarters to be opened alongside the traditional HQ, with organisations paying just as much attention to the design, beauty and atmosphere of their digital workplaces as they do to creating buildings in which they hope people will want to work.
3. Enhanced intranets will gain importance as “front doors” into the wider digital workplace.
It feels as if intranets have been derided ever since they came about in the mid-90s. Not only have regular predictions of their death proved wholly inaccurate, but according to Gartner, we are in the midst of an industry-wide revitalisation of interest in next-generation intranets.
When Adobe envisages a transformed digital workplace for the company, the entry point into that new digital world of work is an intranet that is beautiful, functional and accessible. The same is true for many large organisations that are designing new digital worlds of work.
4. Culture will take a more central role in digital workplace success.
The world of work has been a black box where the motivation behind how people act is hidden from view. However, often the biggest blockers or enablers in the digital world of work are cultural, located in how an organisation behaves. We will see much more attention paid to culture as an area on which to focus during any digital workplace programme.
5. Enterprise search will finally make significant progress due to powerful success stories.
For the past 20 years, finding people and content has been a constant frustration inside large organisations. There have been periodic improvements due to better technology, some understanding of content tagging and innovative search practice, but the story for most companies has been one of disappointment and annoyance.
Now, based on tangible success stories from the likes of EY, Verizon and The Coca Cola Company we are beginning to see that search can be significantly better than the norm. These best practice examples will stimulate others to direct resources (both human and technical) towards raising the bar for enterprise search, and substantial progress will be made.
6. Disappointing digital workplaces will harm recruitment, retention and engagement.
So, your new employer seems great based on its website and on social media … but when you start on your first day and fire up the technology, your heart sinks and the digital disappointment kicks in. For a younger workforce the quality of your digital workplace matters.
To attract, retain and – perhaps most crucially – fully engage a new hire, the power of your digital workplace will increasingly be a deal breaker. For HR, the criticality of the digital workplace will rise in importance and its quality (or lack of it) will become a leadership issue.
7. Microsoft’s dominance will open the way for viable alternative technologies.
No one likes a lack of competition or a sense of monopoly and many large enterprises feel that so long as Microsoft remains the number one player in digital workplace technology, its position will bring as much frustration as it does value.
This desire for viable alternatives that can operate at scale will provide realistic alternatives to Microsoft. In the short term, Microsoft will remain the biggest provider of collaboration, intranet and digital workplace services. But it will be challenged persistently (and with more success) by not only Google, Facebook, Adobe and Jive but by the other 500 or so enterprise technology vendors as well.
8. Governance, strategy and measurement will set the world’s best digital workplaces apart from the rest.
IKEA is a world leader in digital workplace ambition and achievement. This is partly due to its focus, culture and insight, but also because it treats strategy, governance and measurement as essential. Too often a digital workplace fit for the future is regarded as being purely about app stores, mobile and productivity tools – but whatever is created must be well managed and led.
9. Mobile workers will have deeper knowledge in their own hands, further reducing and replacing many managers.
When Verizon focused on mobile services for its staff, it created an environment dedicated to content and processes that people would expect and want to use while on the move. This placed valuable data and knowledge in the hands of anyone, irrespective of where they were working physically.
This shift to giving mobile workers high levels of knowledge directly is a transformational one. Whether the worker is one of the 300,000 consultants at Accenture (now considered by its CEO to be a “virtual organisation”) or a driver with DHL, having direct access to what matters gives him or her power. The forecast for management is not good as this digital empowerment makes the role of managers less central.
10. Our concept of the digital workplace will expand to include “machine to machine” (non-human) relationships.
As digital innovations expand and hybrid systems, artificial intelligence, virtual worlds and robotics increase in their remit, the notion of the digital workplace will have to include the non-human systems where work happens. This reality is already here in all we do but, in 2016 (well, maybe a few years beyond that in truth), an expanded digital workplace understanding will be needed.
This article is republished with permission and edited for length. You can find the original article here.
Paul Miller is CEO and Founder of the Digital Workplace Group (DWG). He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and other business publications and has given keynote addresses at Microsoft, Google, Adobe and Oxford University on the digital future of work.