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The Employee Digital Experience - The Need for a User Centric Workplace

There's a lot of discussion about creating great customer experiences, but it's time we take some of the ideas and methodologies learned in that realm and apply them to creating a great employee experience, specifically, to the intranet

This piece is a follow up to my "Engaged, Informed Employees Get the Job Done." This time round we're going to look into why CXM thinking should be applied within the workplace and other goings on in the world of intranets.

Yes, even the tail end of January can be busy in the Intranet world!

If you're lucky enough, you could be down in Florida right now, enjoying some sunshine and the IBM Connect conference. As Anthony Myers reported, IBM has announced version 4.5 of its Connections social collaboration suite, while OpenRoad Communications also announced the release of version 6 of their superb ThoughtFarmer social intranet software.  

Oh, and of course there is the excitement around the arrival of SharePoint 2013, too.

CXM for the Workplace - The Employee Digital Experience

So what does the release of new social business platforms/social intranet platforms have to do with CXM? A lot actually, if you want to pay as much attention to the productivity of your workforce as you do to the all-important relationship with your customers.

For a while now, various conversations have taken place around whether the good old fashioned intranet is the core element of the broader ecosystem that we seem to have settled on calling the "digital workplace." I have always talked about an Intranet ecosystem that encompasses any internal system with a web interface, be that websites, collaboration (SharePoint, Connections, eRoomsetc) or a web front end to your Siebel, Oracle, or other applications.

My organization now has a division of its IT organization called “Digital Workplace Services,” and like other businesses we are starting to understand that if we provide employees with a poor digital experience, it can potentially negatively affect their personal productivity; in turn affecting the organization's performance as a whole. 

So are Intranet and other Information Management/Knowledge Management professionals to become "Employee Experience Management” (EXM) professionals ? Well maybe some of us are, yes!

We have talked about User Centric Design and the “user experience” on Intranet sites for years — the theories and methodologies apply whether you’re an SMB building a social intranet on ThoughtFarmer, or a global bank using IBM WebSphere and Connections suites — what changes are your detailed requirements, your budget and your ability to execute the theories and provide a highly usable, value adding experience to your employees.

Why Do We Care ?

We understand why we need to focus on customers, but why should we care if our employees are on Windows XP using “green screen” terminal emulation to access major business applications?

Well our HR colleagues might tell us it's all about ‘talent management’ — if you want to recruit and retain the brightest and the best, you need to give them the tools they need to work efficiently and effectively. In our space this means dealing with the "consumerization of IT" and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movements, as well as others.

If it is too difficult to use your enterprise IT systems, they will circumvent them using free, and freely accessible cloud services for task management, project management, file sharing and collaboration from their own mobile devices.

Shhhh — nobody tell Info Security, they might not notice…

While we should all be cognizant of the security risk, and attendant operational risk, if we are going to consider this from an employee experience management perspective, we need to make our intranets as intuitive and easy to use as these consumer IT systems; we need to keep up with the demands of our customers, in this case they just happen to be our employees.

Do I have some magic formula for doing this — I am afraid not, sorry! I just wanted to raise it as an interesting area for us to watch develop during 2013, and I hope you will chip in with some interesting observations in the comments section below.

Editor's Note: Curious to read more of Jed's thoughts on the BYOD phenomena? Read What is Really Driving Mobile in the Enterprise?

About the Author

Jed Cawthorne is a Senior Strategy Consultant for ECM at one of North Americas largest financial services organizations. He has worked as project manager, program manager and consultant in the Enterprise Content Management and CMS software space since 2004.

 
 
 
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