IBM is very much in the news these days because of weak business growth. However, I’m not a business analyst and this article is not about financial issues, at least not directly. My focus here is on people. By people, I mean both workforce and customers.
I remember listening to an IBMer presenting the IBM Global Values Jam in 2001 at an online conference in London. The enthusiastic audience loved it, asked lots of questions and wished their organizations had a similar culture based on trust. As IBM explains here: “Research showed that IBMers trusted and relied on their intranet at unprecedented levels—even more than their managers or the grapevine. Seeking to develop and extend that trust, the company introduced World Jam in 2001.”
IBM adds here that Jams are “radically open and democratic—everybody has the same capacity to participate, regardless of level or expertise—jams speak to the expectations of today’s professional worker.”
Favoring shareholders over the workforce: a serious business misstep?
This is the first in a series of short, regular “early insight” posts I’ll be doing as I work through the data and comments from the many participants in the 9th annual digital workplace survey, which closed January 9th. In the spirit of “working out loud”, I will be sharing insights and observations as I advance in the analysis and writing of the 2015 report. (Publication planned for the second part of March.)
Today, let’s look at a question about how the digital workplace serves the customer-facing workforce. The question and answer options were:
How easy is it for your customer-facing people to …
Find the information they need,
Provide rapid service,
Collaborate with their customers and colleagues,
And in general have a smooth and efficient work experience?
Only 10 organizations out of 303 participants responded “very easy”!
I was not surprised. Last year only 9 responded “very easy”.
Two recent studies, Social Business: Shifting out of First Gear from MIT Sloan Management and Deloitte (here) and the other from myself, The Digital Workplace in the Connected Organization, (here) have drawn very similar conclusions:
The internal digital work environment is becoming more social and collaborative, but there’s a very long road ahead.
The main barriers are strategic and organizational issues, not technological challenges. And that’s why the road is so long!
There are lots of hurdles to jump.
Different questions, different terms but similar discouraging results.
In an early experiment by educational pioneer Sugata Mitra, he broke a hole in the wall between his office and a slum in India and made a computer available to children who had never before seen one. A quote from the BBC article about this caught my attention back in 2005:
You find that the noise level begins to come down, and from somewhere a leader appears. Often his face is not visible in the crowd, but he is controlling the mouse because suddenly you see the mouse begin to move in an orderly fashion.
That’s true leadership. It emerges from a conducive context. It happens because it can.
You can “let” leadership – you cannot “make” leadership
Leadership happens in a given context at a given point in time: You lead in one situation; you follow in another.
Digital is a new way of working. It simplifies. It accelerates. It clarifies. It humanizes. Technology is only a small part of the digital way of working. Most people misunderstand this. They think “technology” when you say “digital workplace”. My definition of the digital workplace is “the intersection of People, Organization and Technology”.
The path to a meaningful digital workplace is long and not always smooth.
Last year’s Digital Workplace Survey of 314 organizations around the world showed distinct differences between Early Adopter organizations (top 20 percent) and the Majority of organizations. The Digital Workplace Framework helps understand these differences. It is based on three perspectives: Capabilities, Enablers and Mindset. Each perspective is divided into three dimensions. (Read about the framework here.)
I decided to extend the survey participation period this year to the 31st of December.
The publication date will not change, and the 2015 Report will be published in early March as previously announced.
Why the new deadline?
In fact, it opened later than usual and quite a few previous participants wrote to me last week saying they could not participate because they are in 2015 budget preparation period. So I decided to give everyone more time. (Calendar)
Use the extra time to involve some of your stakeholders!
Read here to see how you can involve more people in your organization. The Digital Workplace Collective Scorecard will bring new insight to your organization. It will definitely help you build momentum for your 2016 ambitions.
Get in touch if you have any questions or would like guidance on organizing a team session to do the survey.
Are you in the Luxury Sector? If so, please read this. If not, please help spread the word.
When it comes to digital, luxury goods companies are highly focused on e-commerce sites and external brand awareness. When it comes to digital inside, for the workforce I mean, the situation is unclear. I plan to bring clarity by creating a Luxury Sector Digital Workplace Index. And I need your help.
I’ve had the opportunity to work on digital workplace strategy with two of the world’s largest luxury groups. I’ve seen some very interesting projects from the inside, but need to broaden the input and see where the industry as a whole stands.
(See where your organization stands by participating in the Digital Workplace survey for 2015. You’ll receive a complimentary copy of the 2015 report and your customized scorecard. How to participate.)
People focus: Ease inside and ease outside for the Construction & Engineering sector
Twelve out of 314 organizations that participated in the 2014 Digital Workplace survey are in the Construction & Engineering sector. This small segment shows some striking differences from other sectors. It is in position 3 out of 14 for digital workplace maturity framework.
Construction & Engineering is a sector where people are important. People inside the organization and people outside. The figures below could be higher of course, but they are higher than averages in most other sectors.
Nearly 50 percent say it’s “very easy” or “easy” for their customer-facing workforce to access the information they need to serve their customers.
Over 50 percent say their workforce is able to easily learn and develop their skills in the “natural flow of work”.
A closer look at the sector: Five pressures in the work environment today
Fast growth: Business is growing in new markets including China, India, Russia and Central and Eastern Europe. PWC predicts a growth of 70 percent by 2025: “World construction markets are at a tipping point already with 52% of all construction activity in emerging markets today. This is expected to increase to 63% by 2025, with China and India contributing most to growth in emerging markets.”
Complex project management: The industry relies on sophisticated project management with complex projects extending over many years and often involving multiple contractors and partners.
Non-connected workforce: There is a large workforce “in the field” in construction companies. Connecting this workforce to meaningful services from the digital workplace is a challenge.
Going green: Environment, climate change and sustainability issues require new innovation and new design approaches.
Skills shortages: A quick search on Google brings up multiple links to surveys and reports from countries around the world where the industry is already suffering a severe skills shortage. A UNESCO report published in 2010 describes the challenge to include “attracting and retaining broader cross-sections of our youth, particularly women; strengthening the educational enterprise; forging more effective interdisciplinary alliances with the natural and social sciences and the arts….”.
So what’s the status of the digital workplace in this sector?
Find out where you are. See what others are doing.
Do you work in HR, IT, Communication, Marketing, Sales, Engineering, Finance, Legal, Organizational Strategy, Corporate Affairs…?
If so, you are certainly seeing the impact of digital on how people work, how you serve your customers and how your workforce collaborates.
Are you wondering what value the digital workplace brings to an organization?
You can find out what other organizations are thinking and doing by participating in the 2015 Digital Workplace survey.
Free copy of the 2015 Report
All survey participants get a free copy of the 2015 Digital Workplace Report. The report includes data, charts, analysis, case studies and industry sector scorecards, letting you see how you compare to your peers. (The report is available to non-participants for 550 USD. See the 2014 table of contents.)
Your Digital Workplace Scorecard
You can also request to receive your Digital Workplace Scorecard showing where your digital workplace is today on a 5-level maturity scale. It’s based on the innovative Digital Workplace Framework designed by myself and the survey Advisory Boards of 2013 and 2014.
Choose how to do the survey
You can do the survey on your own, submit your answers as a team, or even invite different stakeholders in your organization to participate and get your Digital Workplace Collective Scorecard.
Last year over 300 organizations around the world participated. See reviews about last year’s report. Join us this year: see where you stand and get your free copy of the 2015 Report.