Gartner says the majority of CEOs currently have a management initiative or transformation program to make their business more digital and that a "digital workplace is an unavoidable step for any business that wants to succeed in digital transformation." So, it's not surprising IDC estimates spending on digital transformation will hit two trillion dollars in 2022. But is that money well spent and will it really boost business outcomes? For many organizations, digital transformation in the workplace is not on course. What can be done about it? Avoid these common digital workplace mistakes when planning your digital initiatives.
1) Failing to define what a digital workplace is
Once upon a time, digital transformation for the majority of IT leaders simply meant "going paperless." Now, with so many industries experiencing profound digital disruption, it's widely understood the definition applies to the entire culture of an organization. Digital transformation starts with a digital workplace that Gartner defines as "an ongoing, deliberate approach to delivering a more consumer-like computing environment that is better able to facilitate innovative and flexible working practice." The definition is going to be different from business to business, but it's important to have one for your organization because then you can assess digital initiatives against that definition and evaluate if they'll drive innovation, business goals, end user needs, and efficiencies. Your definition of what your digital workplace should be fits into your innovation roadmap charting your path to modernization with impactful business outcomes.
2) Failing to realize you don't know what you don't know
News of new business innovations seems to drop almost every day, so it's easy to read about a digital workplace solution and say "we should buy that." But what's the actual value? implementing a technology should come at the end of a design thinking process that engages end users first to fully understand their needs and how they go about doing what they do. It helps you understand the limitations of your legacy systems and evaluate if they need to be modernized first. Once you have that knowledge, you can look at where a workgroup is verses the desires business outcomes and then design solutions, test, and potentially purchase technology based on the best way to get it there. If you don't, you run the risk of spending money on "solutions" that don't achieve widespread adoption and potentially make problems worse instead of better.
3) Failing to communicate
Another potential hazard of simply dropping digital workplace solutions on end users is a human being's natural resistance to change. Why should I think outside the box? The box is comfy and warm! In order to achieve the culture shift required to drive digital transformation, you have to have buy-in at every level. For individual digital initiatives, engaging end users in the design thinking process is a start, but a wider communication strategy has to be employed that clearly explains what change is coming, when it's coming, and how it's going to help end users do what they do. Optics are important. If you're telling an organization to shift to a new technology platform and the CEO stubbornly insists on staying on the old one, what message is that sending to the team? In addition to clear communication, plenty of training should be available in the format that best suits individual end users. Some will want basic FAQ-type instructions to help them figure it out on their own while others will want much more immersive hands-on training.
4) Failing to define what success looks like
Once you've deployed your digital workplace solutions, how do you know if they're working? Was it actually worth the investment? Sometimes it's going to be hard to show a definitive link between a platform and improved revenue. Anecdotal evidence is nice, but will that satisfy the CFO? When you plan your digital initiatives, build in the goals and how they're going to be measured. Things like productivity were once nebulous and hard to quantify, but new workplace analytics platforms that can deliver real-time stats are steadily solving that. Perhaps they should be part of your solution.
Getting to the digital workplace is an ever-evolving journey
At the end of the day, it's important to remember that the new normal in business is constant change. Digital initiatives are rarely going to be fire and forget. All potential "solutions" must be examined from the 30-thousand-foot view first and foremost to determine how they fit into the overall desired business outcomes and end-user needs. Not doing that is a quick path to failure.