Becoming a digital workplace

Improve productivity and competitive advantage in a hyper-connected world

Accessing work emails on mobile devices, using voice over IP for business calls, or tracking company news on social media is second nature to many professionals in today’s world.

Many consider this to be a digital workplace, but achieving continued productivity and competitive advantage will require much more significant changes to the way people work.

Thanks to the consumerisation of IT and emerging “Internet of Things,” companies are being increasingly challenged to harness data to drive productivity and competitive advantage.

In response, Australian companies must look to transform all of the interactions of their employees into digitally empowered experiences, rather than mistakenly assume that tools like email and social media are adequate tools.

A true digital workplace brings together applications, information, and collaboration in an intelligent context that is tailored to an individual employee’s role, location, and tasks.

This is how companies can continue to drive revenues, attract and retain talent, and outperform the competition in a hyper-connected world.

The journey has already started

The traditional office as we know it is transforming and, according to research commissioned by Avanade, business and IT leaders overwhelmingly agree that it will become obsolete within four years.

The demand for digital skills is outpacing supply, and the next generation of talent is not necessarily only human – it will be a dream team of humans, data and intelligent software working together. Indeed, 91 percent of respondents to the survey believed that today’s teenagers will be working in roles that do not yet exist.

Organisations that have already adopted digital workplace tools are reporting multiple business benefits, including increased customer satisfaction, faster innovation, and improved employee engagement.

Notably, 93 percent of respondents to the survey commissioned agreed that the increased employee engagement resulting from a digital workplace translates to a positive impact on a company’s bottom line.

Clearly, companies that focus on technologies they can touch and control, rather than on adopting an integrated approach and training employees with new skills, are failing to capitalise on a significant growth opportunity.

How companies are embracing a digital workplace

When it comes to the digital workplace journey, companies are building their digital future step-by-step, with most having at least one of the building blocks for a digital workplace already in place or a plan to invest in the next 12-24 months.

To progress their transformation to a digital workplace, companies are looking to invest in connectivity solutions, data and analytics tools, social collaboration, business insights and information, and IT infrastructure.

Technologies such as Windows 10 and HoloLens are examples of the user-friendly tools that will help to drive employee engagement and collaboration in a digital workplace.

Functionality including options for a more personal computing experience, access to universal apps across all Windows 10 devices, and the integration of Cortana on the PC will allow organisations to be more collaborative and ‘always on.’

Don’t be left behind

The pace of technology innovation is accelerating, so focus and agility are key. From our experience working with clients across industries, here are three tips for transforming to a digital workplace:

1. Implement a digital strategy: Before considering technology implications, alignment with corporate objectives is a critical first step in developing a digital strategy. This requires sponsorship from the Board and/or CEO (not the CIO or CMO) for a clear business case and timings for the enterprise digital strategy. Adoption of digital workplace tools can then be prioritized effectively.

2. Embrace collaboration: User experience drives collaboration behaviors. Bring together user-friendly social, mobile, analytics and cloud computing technologies to create a digital workplace that senses and responds to the information needs of employees – anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

3. Up-skill for digital: Demand for digital skills will continue to outpace supply, so now is the time to start thinking about how to enable the blended workforce. People who can collaborate effectively across functions will be highly valued in the digital workplace, but we can also expect roles in areas like security and identity management to become more prevalent.

In order to realise productivity results, organisations must focus on using digital workplace technologies to create an intelligent context centered on individuals – effectively tailoring business processes and work to the context of each employee’s industry, role, location, and tasks.

The Avanade-commissioned research found that only 44 percent of companies have so far adopted digital workplace tools, so taking steps now to create an intelligent context for your employees will give your organisation a significant market advantage in the emerging digital economy.

Sarah Adam-Gedge is Avanade's Australian managing director.

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