Friday, September 28, 2012

The Digital Workplace concretized



If have previously discussed how do define the Digital Workplace. To be clear, it isn't about remote working, virtual teams, or mobility. It isn't about intranets, collaboration tools, or social media either. No, the Digital Workplace is about taking a business- and people-centric approach to providing information workers with the right capabilities in the right way so they can get their work done.

Another way to express it is that the Digital Workplace represents a shift from a technology-centric and product-oriented approach to supporting information workers to a people-centric and service-oriented approach. I’ve illustrated this shift in the below diagram, where I've also plotted some basic capabilities outside the circles.


Questions such as "What capabilities do we need to have?", "Which services should we provide to users?" and " How should those be designed?" cannot really be defined until we know the business needs and the needs of people in different situations. The Digital Workplace is – deliberately – a vague and abstract concept; it is impossible to describe exactly what it is because it will be different from one organization to another. Yet, there is definitely a need to concretize what a Digital Workplace might look like and what capabilities it could provide. For this purpose I will describe and discuss a few such capabilities in my next article for CMS Wire early next week (earlier writings can be found here):
  • Task Coordination
  • Finding People
  • Networking 
  • Meetings
  • Communication
  • Sharing  
I will also cross-post it a shorter version of the article here afterwards. Please stay tuned!

2 comments:

  1. Oscar,

    Very interesting post, but surely this is an abstraction rather than making the digital workplace more concrete? I can see room for both a system-level view and services/task based view of this.

    How practical do you feel it is to try and define/design the concept digital workplace in the absence of legacy when organisations are so bound-up with 30 years of IT? Is the Grand Projet approach even possible?

    Looking forward to your CMS Wire article.

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  2. Hi,

    sorry for not making it as concrete as perhaps the title promised. This post was more of a teaser for my upcoming article where I will concretize the Digital Workplace by defining some key capabilities and how they support tasks and help people work smarter. I will not concretize the system-level view other than to mention how some technologies can be used to provide certain capabilities. And I will not discuss the realization, but it could be that I discuss that in a follow-up article.

    It is important not to confuse the Digital Workplace approach to defining a holistic vision/to-be-picture of the complete digital work environment with the transformation approach chosen to identify and realize the necessary changes. I don't see the conflict. You have to have the big picture to work out the details. The Digital Workplace approach is a way to understand the bigger picture into which everything should fit in. The transformation approach should, IMO, be evolutionary, iterative and incremental, involve users from the start. I clearly argue in my writings for a Lean continuous improvement approach to such transformation, one where you focus on introducing capabilities and services step by step and based on clearly identified business and user needs, identified from real user situations. This is the opposite from the typical product- and technology-centric approach where you try to solve all problems simply by introducing a new platform in a bing bang deployment.

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