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Digital Workplace or Digital Transformation? The Destination Versus the Journey

Digital Workplace

Digital Transformation is one of those business buzz words that you just can’t get away from at the moment and different people have different interpretations of what it actually means. Well, according to the (somewhat!) reliable source of Wikipedia“Digital Transformation is the transformation of business by revamping the business strategy or digital strategy… by adopting digital technologies. In a narrower sense, “digital transformation” may refer to the concept of “going paperless”.

However, also according to Wikipedia and the McKinsey Global Institute’s Industry Digitalisation Index, the UK is currently operating at mere 17% of its digital potential, and the USA only slightly better at 18%. These low figures suggest that businesses are failing to exploit the full value of going digital and paperless. In this series of blog posts I’m going to explore what those benefits are, why businesses aren’t making the most of them, and what can be done to improve this.

Why the digital workplace makes more sense

At M-Files, we prefer the term ‘Digital Workplace’ to ‘Digital Transformation’. The reason being is that the digital workplace is what organisations are ultimately trying to achieve as a result of the transformation process. The transformation is the journey a business goes on to reach the destination – the digital workplace.

What the digital workplace is, and what it consists of, will vary from one organisation to the next. However, at the very core, it will be, or work towards being, a paperless environment. A digital workplace is more than just technology. It’s about business priorities, business processes, and most importantly people. Of course it may leverage best-of-breed, cutting-edge technologies in order to achieve a paperless, digital environment, but ultimately the goal is to enable employees to work as efficiently as possible and deliver the best possible service to their customers.

A huge factor in companies not fully leveraging digital technologies is that they simply don’t understand what it is they are trying to achieve or where to start. Instead of focusing on what it is they want to achieve and why, then figure out how, they see a huge, daunting task ahead of them and a plethora of technologies available. Perhaps they like the idea of going paperless, but simply don’t know where to start. Jumping in at the deep end and deploying a new software solution offers many risks – cost, disruption and user uptake to name just the most obvious few.

Companies need to take a more holistic view and understand that in order to achieve and maintain a digital workplace their digital transformation process can never be truly complete as technologies continually evolve. Instead, they should focus on the destination they are trying to reach, and take an Agile approach (more on that later) to getting and staying there.

Think of it slightly differently. I’m booking my next holiday (sadly this is not actually the case!).

Obviously, before I do anything else, I consider what it is I want to achieve (my digital workplace), which is a relaxing week in the sun.

From there, I have a huge number of factors and options to consider.

  • Where will I go?
  • How much do I have to spend?
  • When should I go?
  • How will I get there?
  • Which travel agents or airline should I book with?
  • What if something better comes along?!

I don’t start with the complex details (the digital transformation journey) as I will end up overwhelmed, confused, and likely not end up going anywhere! I start with deciding what it is I want from my holiday and plan out how to get there afterwards, one manageable step at a time.

I’ll now step away from Expedia before this becomes expensive and I go completely off topic….!

The key to success is thinking big and starting small. Have a vision of your end goal then consider how to achieve it, one step at a time. Knowing what you are striving for means you can then consider the steps along the way, and address them in manageable chunks, starting with the key business challenges and priorities.

Ultimately, what your digital workplace looks like will evolve as your business requirements change and technology develops. Today’s digital workplace may not be quite so cutting edge in 5 years time. So this leads on to the importance of flexible, scalable, adaptable technology solutions, and an Agile methodology to deployment.

My next post will look at the role of intelligent information management in the digital workplace.

Part Two: Creating the Digital Workplace – the Role of Intelligent Information Management