RIP Intranet, Long Live Digital Workplace

Seamlessness is at the core of Digital Workplace. Me-the-employee needs to be able to do my work in a simple, seamless way anytime, anywhere.

In the previous article, I had wondered why email wasn’t dead (yet) as a tool for collaboration despite a host of collaboration tools being implemented by organizations. Continuing with depressing death series, this article writes an obituary of that familiar thing called Intranet.

To be sure, intranets have had a great run. What started as a simple welcome page for employees has grown into a go-to point for multiple purposes – Corporate Communication, Employee Engagement, Employee Self-Service, Collaboration, etc.

However, the advent of mobility has shifted the paradigm. Intranets were great when desktop was the predominant device and physical office was the predominant workplace. Increasingly, employees are working away from their desk (and desktop) – while in meetings, while at site, while at customer locations, while on the move.

Often, organizations take a simplistic approach to counter this shift by making their intranets “mobile enabled”, i.e. by making their design responsive and/or building a mobile app for their intranet. Unfortunately, such measures are only symptomatic as they fail to acknowledge that mobility shift is not a mere “mobile access” problem, but a “seamlessness” problem. In earlier times, a click-through to another application was a minor inconvenience for the employees using desktops. However, in the mobile world, Intranet can no longer remain an island just as a host of other systems and applications used by employees cannot remain as separate islands.

Mobility shift is not a mere “mobile access” problem. It is a “seamlessness” problem.

Enter Digital Workplace.

As happens with most concepts emerging in technolgy space, “Digital Workplace” is increasingly becoming a jargon – often used to sell one or another platform or tool. In reality, the concept has very little to do with these platforms or tools. Digital Workplace is not a technology problem, it is an Employee Effectiveness, Productivity & Engagement problem.

Digital Workplace is about SEAMLESSNESS. Me-the-employee needs to be able to do my work in a simple, seamless way anytime, anywhere. Before throwing any technology at the problem, organizations need to visualize what means “work” for their employees and how they can make it easy for that work to be performed seamlessly.

So Digital Workplace is about helping an employee being on top of all her pending actions and schedules, being able to access the documents she may be currently working on, being able to participate in conversations on specific issues or topics with her team members, and being aware of any news and updates – all of this seamlessly.

Consider “owning the end-point”.

I mentioned earlier Digital Workplace is NOT a technology problem. If you are a CIO, this is an premise worthy of careful considerations. Do not let “evangelists” reduce your Digital Workplace to specific technology/ies. More importantly, consider “owning the end-point”. A change of technology or platform should not result in the employees having to learn an entirely new experience.

Possible? You bet it is. How? Well, let me address that subject in the next part of this series.

Update: Here are the other articles in this series:

(This article was originally published on LinkedIn)

 

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