This week was my sandwich week between the Digital Workplace Summit in London which just concluded and Symposium in Orlando next week. What struck me about the meetings during the Summit is how many people are undertaking digital workplace programs and how much they vary.
Some IT leaders of these programs are chartered to make significant, lasting changes to mission critical work practices like sales effectiveness or R&D. These folks are examining the work activities of teams to uncover opportunities to simplify and streamline. They are interested in understanding the dynamics of social networks and uncovering activities that are hidden from traditional process analysis techniques.
This is a different approach than we saw with predecessor initiatives like “collaboration” or “social.” In those efforts, the emphasis was on provisioning tools and hoping workers would figure out what to do with them. One of the oft repeated lines that made me cringe was that “nobody needed training to use Facebook.” Predictably only the 10% or so of tech pioneers were able to maximize the use of these tools. The remaining 90% of workers were not. This is not the fault of the technology. It does indicate a fundamental lack of understanding of the importance of establishing norms for how teams of people working together to get things accomplished.
Admittedly, there still are some digital workplace programs that are focused on more issues such as a portal upgrade or move to cloud office. The keynote last week offered some suggestions for how those IT leaders could elevate their remit to something that has a greater impact on business performance.
It will be interesting to hear what questions are top of mind next week. Most of the queries are titled “digital workplace” and since many of the Symposium attendees are C-level execs, I’m curious to see how their organizations are approaching employee effectiveness and the changing nature of work. In other words, how are they defining digital workplace for their own unique contexts?
One thing is certain – I’ll get to talk to a lot of interesting people.
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