Business & Value, Guidance & How To

Make the digital workplace real

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in February 2013 ……

Operational managers should be first in line for digital workplace initiatives.

Why? Because they have real problems to solve. I am deliberately avoiding the corporate feel-good word “issues”. I mean real problems. Finding information quickly. Connecting to co-workers to ask questions. Looking in the order database to answer a customer’s question. And so on.

The problem is that budget holders who decide where to invest are usually high up in the organization and live in a world far from operational reality. How can you shine a bright light on what people need?

I’ve worked with three global companies in the past 12 months where we started the digital workplace project by researching what people are doing, their pain points and how the digital workplace can facilitate their work. Each company chose a different approach and used different terms: typical profiles, use cases, persona. In one case, an agency was hired to do the research. In another, members of the internal global work group did their own research.

Present the results in a visual, dramatic but simple way.

I’ve seen mouths drop open when one persona “said” that she never read corporate news. The communication director was stunned. When another use case “said” he could never find up-to-date delivery dates for clients, so he invented what he thought was a best guess. This triggered a vehement debate between “It’s the process that’s broken, fix it first” and “The digital workplace can help fix the process”.

Focus on real pain points.

Digital Workplace Trends 2013 includes one-page “in practice” stories about what real companies are doing in their digital workplace. Three focus on fixing real problems for real people:

  • “Our approach is to ask these questions: “What do people need? Can they do this already? If so, can it be improved? If not, can we help?” Dave Stewart, Intranet Development Manager, Scottish Enterprise.
  • “Our approach in this case and in general is to try to find the connection between ‘soft’ knowledge issues and managers’ day-to-day pain points.”  Lars Thostrup, Project manager, intranet strategist. Danske Bank.
  • “Opportunities arise all the time where you may be able to identify a problem that can be solved or eased with an online function, process or application.” Peter Richards, Customer Intelligence Manager. Echo Entertainment Group.