Forrester_logo_2009.jpgQuick! How many tabs are open in your browser window right now? Of those open, how many of them are web-based applications designed to help you communicate, collaborate or manage content? If you’re like many knowledge workers, chances are you employ many disconnected technologies on a regular basis. However, things may soon change. 

According to a recent report by Forrester (newssite), organizations are finding new ways to drive information worker productivity. More and more tech vendors are taking notice, offering end-to-end information workplace solutions. The Information Workplace Light Burns Brighter: The Vendor Landscape Creates More Opportunity and Complexity, examines the integrated experiences -- or lack thereof -- within the information workplace. What they found will both surprise and inspire.

What is the Information Workplace?

It’s assumed that your company gives you the tools you need to get your job done. But as more employees work remotely or are empowered to embrace new technologies, it’s hard to be sure what tools employees are using. An information workplace, as described by Forrester:

enables the aggregation of software functionality that helps knowledge workers access the information and expertise they need.

In other words, by being able to bring multiple technologies together in a seamless, contextual user experience, the information workplace gives us new, productive ways of working, while ensuring adoption and proper usage.

The Personal Becomes the Professional

Why is it that there are many applications used to help us communicate and collaborate in our personal lives, but very few that allow us the same flexibility at work? From Facebook news feeds, OpenID and Instant Messanger, it’s easy for us to access multiple networks, get updated on news and information and communicate in real time with our friends. Enter the enterprise, and most, if not all of these functionalities become complicated.

Forrester_informationworkplace2.jpg
Image 1: Companies are Considering Or Piloting Select Workplace Product Categories In 2010
 

Forrester evaluated vendors and their ability to deliver some or most of the functionality that is required, as well as handle the integration side. In an effort to evaluate the functionality offered, Forrester defined three compelling anchor points for an Information Workplace Strategy, including:

  • Ability to provide multiple areas of pre-integrated functionality that are applicable to the majority of workers in an enterprise
  • Positioned as a strategic software and services provides within the enterprise.
  • Understand the importance of integration and collaboration

According to Forrester’s research, four key vendors, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle meet the above criteria. Not surprising, each of them is a trusted source for enterprise offerings, like content management, social media, line-of-business solutions and other business intelligence tools. Not all companies need the same types of services however, nor do most vendors offer everything companies need.

Forrester_InformationWorkplaces.jpg
Image 2: Information Workplace Offerings Will Continue To Grow

In an effort to keep your company on track to becoming an information workplace, it’s necessary that content and collaboration professionals determine their strategy for evaluating vendors, assessing workplace requirements and the cost and complexity associated with them as they look to strategic vendors for assistance.

The Future of the Information Workplace

Do empowered employees create information workplaces or is it a by-product of a more mobile workforce? Either way, all companies should aim to integrate technologies, not just because it helps employees stay connected and better informed, but because it’s easier and more cost efficient to manage. As global economies ebb and flow, companies don’t have many other choices than to find ways to be more productive.