Is Digital Workplace becoming an accepted term?

The concept of a “Digital Workplace” has gained momemtum since a few weeks and this weeks @IntraTeam conference (#IEC12) seems to confirm this: “Digital Workplace” was all over, whereas the word “Intranet” was heard less than in the past.

I bet that 2012 will be the year where the concept of a “Digital Workplace” will start to be adopted outside of circles of experts. As a matter of fact, we just started to introduce the concept internally to help us set the scene to move beyond our traditional Intranet.

Mark Morrell (markmorrell) ran a very interesting workshop on ways to build the right governance model for the digital workplace that he defined as “anytime, any place, any device” (see his latest blog). According to Mark, the way forward to create a digital workplace strategy is to

  1. Define what is a digital workplace;
  2. See at which stage of the digital workplace your organization is;
  3. Set up a governance for your digital workplace;
  4. Define what needs to be done to ensure employees use your digital workplace.

To help us define what is a digital workplace, four great and complementary reports have recently been published:

1. Digital Workplace Trends 2012

Jane McConnell (@netjmc) has been one of the pioneer to talk about the digital workplace. I remember the debate that one of her posts generated in 2009 when she started to challenge the term “Intranet”.

Jane is running a yearly survey which is THE reference if you need numbers and facts about the digital workplace. The 2012 edition included more than 450 participating organizations and evaluated four possible scenarios for the digital workplaces of tomorrow:

  1. “My Aps” – where you will be able to select what you need to do your job like on a smart phone;
  2. “Smart systems” – where the digital workplace will remember you and deliver what you need based on your past online behavior or your context;
  3. “People centric” – where a social layer will allow each of us to be central actors;
  4. “Super search” – or the ability to finally find what you need to do your work.

What I particularly like is Jane’s understanding and clear definition of the digital workplace dimensions:

If you do not know Jane’s report yet, download the Digital Workplace Trends 2012.

2. The Digital Workplace – Redefining Productivity in the Information Age

Probably the less known of all four is Stephan Schillerwein’s (@IntranetMatters) Digital Workplace whitepaper, a deep dive into the building blocks of the digital workplace to get the whole enterprise 100 % loaded on your screen.

Stephan describes the poor state of most current information systems and lack of a logical enterprise-wide architecture:

Like most cities, organizations and their information system landscapes are products of years and years of organic growth and change. But imagine a city in which only the buildings have received some degree of central planning and coordination, but no thought has ever been given to roads, electricity lines and sewerage.

The report stresses the importance for any digital workplace initiative to be backed up by management and accompanied by substantial change management activities.

Stephan describes the building blocks of the digital workplace with concrete example scenarios and associated technologies. Key aspects to be considered for a digital workplace are also listed such as the Universal Inbox – a “one-stop-shop” for all information relevant to a person independent of source, device and format.

Stephan ends his report by recognizing that digital workplace management needs to be a strategic function in the organization, making the case that the digital workplace will enable to turn knowledge back into organizational power and should be a priority in every company.

Download the Digital Workplace – Redefining Productivity in the Information Age.

3. Digital workplaces – an implementation checklist

Martin White (@intranetfocus) gave a great presentation at #IEC_12 on “Building the digital workplace”.

According to Martin, the recent decision by Roche, one of the largest and most conservative pharmaceutical company in the world, to move to Google Aps is a clear sign that organisations are moving towards a digital workplace accessible “from any web-enabled device”.

Martin’s report list 20 technology, information and governance issues that need attention in order to be able to implement our vision of a digital workplace and includes a very instructive diagram showing that vision should be accompanied by skills, incentives, resources and an action plan in order to become a reality.

Some of the questions to consider:

  • Have you identified core customers and suppliers who could usefully be involved at an early stage in the development of a digital workplace strategy?
  • Have the change management implications of a digital workplace been discussed with HR and training teams?
  • Is there a roadmap for the development of executive authority by the group currently responsible for digital workplace vision and strategy development?

Learn more by downloading the Digital workplace – an implementation checklist

4. A week in the digital workplace

Last but not least is James Robertson (@s2d_jamesr) “A week in the digital workplace”, a concrete vision of how we will work in the future.

Using a powerful storytelling approach, James describes with talent how ‘Morris’ is helping Sarah complete her tasks at work. Oh, by the way, ‘Morris’ is a Sarah’s new company Intranet. ‘Morris’ help translate the abstract concept of a digital workplace into something concrete.

Abstracts: “When Sarah logs in to her laptop, she finds an email waiting for her. “Hi, I’m Morris, the intranet. Welcome to our company!” … Sarah notices another prominent element of the Intranet homepage: a task list, pre-populated with items … Morris also seems to want to help Sarah make new friends and connections … She’s able to browse through the updates and comments made by the team, and quickly becomes aware of a big deadline that everyone is working towards this week. … What also pleases Sarah in this new job is that she’s able to use her own Android phone …. Following a helpful email from Morris – who’s proving to be her invaluable digital assistant – Sarah is able to quickly establish a secure connection to her office tools on her phone … It seems that there re also other tools that she can add to her phone. … Morris ask Sarah “I see you are travelling with us for the first time, would you like to arrange travel insurance?”

It seems futurist but has been inspired by real examples that Step Two Designs has been witnessing over the past few years. Meet ‘Morris’ and get inspired by downloading a week in the digital workplace

If you are interested in the subject, there are great #digitalworkplace discussions on Twitters! including a recent quote by @jensalmgren

When do we finally decide that an intranet is just another channel? Calling it an intranet narrows it’s actual purpose. Intranet RIP #iec12

Any thoughts on this last quote? Can the digital workplace be the new accepted term? Know any other good resources?

About ernstdecsey

Passionate about the digital workplace (defined as the sum of collaboration, social media and the Intranet). The postings on this site are my own.
This entry was posted in conference, digital workplace and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Is Digital Workplace becoming an accepted term?

  1. Hi Ernst, thanks for the round up on some of the Digital Workplace activity. It’s great to see the term being used more widely, so long as we don’t get hung up on definitions/ the term itself, instead of focusing on the business issues it can potentially solve (see Richard Gledhill’s post ‘Is the Digital Workplace in danger of being the board’s next taboo?’ which I commented on earlier). At DWForum ( we’re focusing on key themes like making the business case for the DW (we’re running a survey at the moment, see link below), mapping the state of the digital workplace, key IT challenges (e.g. – BYOD and “designing for loss of control”, managing identity, UX etc.).

    DW business case survey link:

    Best wishes,

  2. Pingback: Community management, Wikis, and a bar – Learnings and reflections from IntraTeam Event 2012 « Connaxions

  3. Pingback: We all have a Digital Workplace! | digitalworkplace

  4. Pingback: Intranets in a Digital Workplace and cloud era | digitalworkplace

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