How to measure the value of your digital workplace

The intranet has long been about internal enterprise collaboration. However, this is only a part of the story. According to Martin White, UK-based intranet expert and founder of Intranet Focus, the value of an organization’s digital workplace is dependent on the extent to which the organization can work with suppliers and customers in an overall delivery of products and services.

In advance of his J. Boye Aarhus 17 conference session on the digital workplace conference track, we have asked him to explain how he connects the value of a digital workplace to the ability to cooperate with suppliers and customers, what makes a successful digital workplace strategy, and what are the challenges of executing a digital workplace strategy. Also, we asked Martin to comment on what we need to know about the digital workplace for 2018 and beyond.

Why is the value of an organization’s digital workplace dependent on outsiders?

If the focus of a digital workplace is only on achieving internal objectives then the organisation will gain no benefit. Every organisation purchases products and services from suppliers, adds value through a range of processes and delivers to clients and customers.

To achieve business objectives the digital workplace has to reflect the way in which clients and customers want to do business. That is why IT should never be driving a digital workplace initiative.

What characterizes a successful digital workplace strategy?

In 2000 Jeffrey Beir, the Founder of eRoom Technology said that digital workplaces should be comprehensible, complete, contagious, connected and cross-enterprise. eRoom was later acquired by Documentum, which in turn was acquired by EMC.

The quote by Jeffrey was almost 20 years ago and we are still struggling to achieve these in first-generation digital workplaces.

What are the most common challenges you see organizations facing when they execute their digital workplace strategy?

If only organisations had strategies! Where there are strategies they are often bottom-up, starting from a given technology platform, and not top-down AND bottom-up led by the Board and Chief Executive. If a digital workplace programme is going to make a significant impact on business performance then it has to be led by the Board. If there seems to be no potential impact then why bother?

I see the biggest challenge as not being ready to work with the entire supply/customer chain. Law firms for example are facing a substantial change in the way they do business.

What should digital professionals dealing with the digital workplace in one way or another know for 2018 and beyond?

Know the business well enough, and in particular how decisions are made and tasks are undertaken, to spot where thinking digitally will have both the greatest benefits and the greatest risks.  It is not just about ‘collaboration’ or ‘enterprise social networking’. By definition enterprise social networks are internal – the conversations and collaboration with organisations and people outside of a business are equally, and maybe even more, important.

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