I am currently attending the Gartner Digital Workplace Summit 2015 in rainy London. The summit is focused on helping key IT- and business decision-makers to form a modern and relevant digital workplace which will engage users and propel business to the next level. In this context the digital workplace relates to all the most common communication and collaboration tools available to knowledge workers today.
It has been an interesting first day with a wealth of presentations, workshops and discussions. It is remarkable that Gartner has taken a large step away from just talking technology and IT-solutions and instead focused on how to get more active business engagement and develop relevant digital solutions. This makes the content much more relevant and compelling for both IT and business people attending the summit. Looking at the attendee list there are actually not only IT-people represented which is a great proof to the rising importance of creating a relevant digital workplace. This cross collaboration between IT and other departments like HR is also something that UClarity strongly believes in when implementing strategies and solutions for our customers.
The summit keynote focused on the journey into an unknown territory of digital solutions. No real surprises when Gartner presented their top trends and one of the key conclusions was that it is now more difficult than ever to plan and look ahead. No real difference from earlier years: constant, accelerating change is “the new normal” and has been for many years.
Gartner presented three key principles for the digital workplace:
- Promote employee engagement and start building the digital workplace together with them (no only for them),
- Develop a consumer like computing experience that enables teams to become more effective (focus on design and ease of use),
- Exploit emerging smart technologies and people-centric design. More human dimensions should be injected into developing solutions. Use anthropologists, Human behaviour specialists with the purpose of making solutions more relevant to users
Following the keynote I went to 4 additional interesting sessions and I would like to share the key take-aways from each session:
Mobile real-time team workspaces and the consumerisation of collaboration
- The majority of people use mobile apps to communicate both in private and work life
- Employees need more than just corporate e-mail and IM
- Do not be afraid of fragmentation, users are already used to that in private life
- Experiment with different mobile apps and not all users will need to be on the same platform. If there is no specific need to collaborate across groups and functions.
- “Fail fast and move on”
Developing the digital workplace strategic roadmap
- DA digital workplace: Enables new and more effective ways of working, Improves employee engagement and agility, Exploits consumer-oriented styles and technologies….BUT it will not happen by itself
- Create a strategy for the digital workplace. It is NOT an IT-strategy but a cross disciplinary effort especially with the input of HR
- Map ongoing initiatives and prioritize according to investment and effect
- Communicate clearly to the business and use relevant language (non-technical) depending on target group
Build business case for Digital workplace
- The business case for the digital workplace is not only financial. One business goal could be to create an attractive workplace/ employer through modern digital workplace
- Key goal: develop a business case which speaks a language understood by the entire organisation, not just IT
- Gartner recommends their 8-step model to calculate a business case. However, make sure to always hook into your own business goals to make the business case relevant
What to do when every employee is an IT employee
- All employees will want to become more engaged in the creation of the digital workplace
- Think not only of the design of the digital workplace but also of the design of the physical workplace and how it interacts with the digital workstyles of employees (Activity Based Workplace)
- Think of the employee not only as a “customer” or “user” but as a key partner in developing the digital workplace
Summary of day 1:
As I mentioned in the beginning it is great to see less technology focus and more business and user focus from Gartner. But to follow this new focus it requires new thinking, a plan and a solid business case from the IT department. To succeed IT will have to start working much more closely with the business side and especially with the HR group. The overall goal is to create a digital workplace which is relevant and understandable to employees, helping them to do their jobs and live their lives in smarter ways.
Many of the elements that we at Uclarity have based our advice and services on for years are now finally surfacing on the Gartner agenda: focus on people value, understand that users have different needs, engage with HR at a strategic level, launch and market solutions in a systematic and attractive way. And finally Gartner has discovered the term Activity Based Workplace/ Workstyle (ABW), something which is already a big trend in Sweden.
To summarise: It is all about making the digital (and physical) workplace more human, adapted and agile, something that the IT department can not do alone. Creating a digital workplace that will engage and excite employees requires cross-collaboration between IT and the business side with particular help from HR. This will definitely challenge many IT-departments but even HR departments which will have to start engaging deeper into the space of the digital workplace.