The pandemic may have accelerated trends in our professional lives, but most companies had already experienced a major, ongoing shift towards digital tools—even in-office. As some companies return to normal and others embrace a “new normal” of hybrid or remote work, the digital tools we use every day will continue to shape our work lives.
Even in the office, most of our work happens digitally. Knowledge sharing, quick questions, project updates, collaboration… it happens primarily on our laptops and even cell phones, but less frequently around conference tables. If you think back to the last deliverable you submitted, it was likely sent from behind a keyboard, not handed off as a stack of paperwork.
Organizations have adopted pieces of ad hoc tech to meet individual needs, which has fragmented information and collaboration. Different kinds of work happen in different kinds of apps and tools, but there’s nothing connecting those tools into coherent processes.
According to IDC, the average knowledge worker wastes two and a half hours daily duplicating work because of this opaque, inefficient landscape of mismatched productivity apps. IDC says this inefficiency costs $20 thousand a year per employee in lost productivity.
Fortunately, many organizations had the right idea when they sought out intranet solutions to unify their companies online. This is the start of a journey in digital transformation, and it has the potential to unite your company around goals and values in a way that puts the old-fashioned way of in-person working to shame.
Digital transformation—the journey from ‘90s tech to modern productivity
If the start of this journey is a basic intranet, what can companies hope to accomplish next? And more importantly, why might a basic intranet not be enough?
The reality is that the idea of a corporate intranet has been around for decades, and many intranet solutions haven’t evolved much in that time. The basic intranet template offers basic corporate information, updates, and links to external resources. In many ways, it’s more of a high-level corporate FAQ than a central destination—a one-way data channel that can’t facilitate collaboration.
The next step in digital transformation solves the flat, static nature of a basic intranet portal. A “social intranet” builds on the basic portal and offers people-focused resources like an employee directory, basic social features, and simple integrations. This stage in your digital evolution identifies the need to connect people and knowledge, but it doesn’t do much with that idea.
Many truly innovative companies have arrived at the next step beyond a social intranet: the “modern intranet.” This is the first stage that offers a solution to the problem of disengagement. Even with a social intranet, a company’s collaboration and knowledge are fragmented and often duplicated across many other apps, messages, and devices. Work is slow, and full of artificial hurdles that steal time and damage results.
The modern intranet paradigm enhances team collaboration with a more advanced, interactive approach to digital work that incorporates basic process automation, app integrations, content publishing, simple workflow management, and mobile accessibility. It is the first attempt at truly answering the question, “how can we work together as a company when everything happens on our laptops?”
That’s a great place to be for most companies, and it begins to solve the growing disconnect that our digital tools can create. It’s not the end-game, though; there’s more you can achieve.
The goal of any forward-thinking company should be to replicate the physical workplace as a digital platform. It’s no surprise, then, that this solution would be called a “digital workplace.”
In a digital workplace, departments and projects get their own “rooms;” knowledge is centralized; experts are more searchable, as are policies, files, and everything else that brings value to your organization. According to Gartner®, “Your intranet must be a pervasive system that delivers necessary or helpful information, services and interactions to employees in the context of their work.”1
Most importantly, the structure of a digital workplace is built to the needs of the individual company, meaning your company’s values and goals are communicated in a way that engages employees. Engaged employees are less likely to resign, and more capable of accomplishing the goals set out for them (in much less time). It’s a culture tool, and it’s a powerful driver of productivity.
In offices or at home, productivity is limited by the fragmented topology of apps, emails, and personal hoards of important documents. The digital transformation journey is happening to most companies whether they realize it or not – the only thing that’s truly within our control is how we strategize this journey to find the true benefits it can offer.
Get the resources to strategize your own digital transformation.