this man knows it's time for a change
Sometimes it becomes very obvious that a change is needed PHOTO: PJ Nelson

Given the sophistication of the consumer apps we use in our personal lives, it’s shocking how far behind many companies still lag these experiences. 

Too often the focus of corporate intranets and other enterprise tools are on pushing one-way content rather than enabling vibrant multi-directional engagement between employees. 

If your disengaged employees outnumber your engaged employees, or if your digital workplace lacks executive involvement, you may want to reassess what you need improve so you can start taking things to the next level. If you do nothing, it won’t be long before your organization’s productivity and strategic alignment suffer — if they aren’t declining already.

6 Signs of a Flawed Digital Workplace 

Tackling a big challenge like this often comes easier by finding small wins you can achieve quickly. What follows are six common digital workplace shortcomings you should take on sooner rather than later:

1. Static Intranets

Putting information out there with the hopes that “if you build it, they will come” no longer works — if it ever did. 

If that’s still your digital workplace approach, switch to a more interactive solution that drives engagement and collaboration through a network and activity hub. Make sure it integrates across applications to bring employees’ work into a common experience that captures corporate memory and makes it visible and searchable across the entire organization.

2. Siloed Search

Given that the average worker wastes nearly two hours a day looking for information, and the average enterprise has data spread across 329 business applications, enterprise search should be a top area for improvement within most digital workplaces. A collaboration hub can help with this by aggregating data across systems, analyzing work behavior patterns and then ranking content based on the relative strength of people’s interactions throughout the workgraph.

3. Lack of Reporting or Analytics

All your digital workplace improvements will go to waste if you don’t put in place tools to effectively measure and monitor adoption and engagement. By uncovering insights about community health and your organization’s employees, you’ll know whether your company is realizing the full potential of its digital workplace. 

As a bonus, employees will gain better visibility into the impact of their work.

4. One-Size-Fits-All Experiences

A successful digital workplace's ability to target relevant and contextual information to the right people should constantly be improving. Each and every individual should receive a deeply personalized experience which offers up valuable information — even when employees aren’t explicitly seeking it. 

Thanks to artificial intelligence, many workplace solutions are finding new ways to surface timely and useful content, connections and places right within the context of the worker at the moment.

5. Old-School Interface

No one wants their work slowed down by clunky circa-2000 business applications. Make sure your company provides employees with user experiences that offer intuitive workstreams and simple interfaces so they can more easily get work done. 

Consider solutions that cater to specific functions or industries (i.e. internal communications, HR, customer support, healthcare and government) to deliver broad and strategic impact on employee engagement, worker productivity and organizational culture.

6. Desktop-Only Access

It goes without saying that today’s employees are mobile. They want access to their work information anywhere, anytime, on any device and delivered by a UX that’s as delightful as any consumer app. With the rise of remote workers, companies should prioritize making their digital workspaces available in enterprise-ready, purposeful mobile experiences that help people stay productive.

Achieving Digital Workplace Maturity

Now that we’ve gotten an initial to-do list out of the way, let's put your digital workplace within a broader context using the digital maturity scale below. As companies start to improve employee tools and applications with the latest and greatest technologies, their digital workplaces will advance through several phases:

digital maturity graph

This kind of technology evolution can dramatically increase the business value your digital workplace delivers. When employees increase their digital communications, knowledge sharing and collaboration skills, they’ll ultimately drive greater innovation and impact to the bottom line. 

Of course, if this was an easy process, every company would be at the top right of the scale. But before you can reach those heights, consider these points: 

Typical Barriers to Communication and Knowledge Sharing

Static intranets based around content and information fail to effectively uncover employees’ true expertise, experience and knowledge. This missing people element is exacerbated when intranets generate too much information, most of which is irrelevant to the end user. 

In order to cultivate a healthy digital workplace, don’t just give people more content, focus on encouraging employees to leverage social tools — like commenting, discussions, liking, ratings, etc. — that capture their intrinsic knowledge, enrich the content, enable bi-directional communications and drive engagement. 

Another opportunity is to analyze an individual’s content consumption, contributions, searches and community membership in order to provide helpful visibility into that person’s interests, skills and previous customer engagements (while at the same time personalizing their own digital workplace).

The Next Frontier: Spurring Innovation through Borderless Collaboration

Moving even further along the digital maturity scale, enterprise collaboration technologies are crucial for fostering the exchange of expertise and knowledge across your organization’s network. Break down the all-too-common information silos that result from most companies’ fragmented applications, systems, teams and locations. 

Most employees conduct their day-to-day activities across a multitude of technologies, which by integrating into a single digital workplace hub, allows a 360-degree view of business activity. This makes collaboration more efficient, across communities within the company and beyond.

Many of today’s business activities cross corporate boundaries into partners, clients and other entities. As digital workplaces mature, they should support borderless communities to encourage collaboration between internal experts, customers and other third parties across an expanding business ecosystem. If your company wants to compete in today’s economy, it must engage with these broader networks in order to create new value chains, share knowledge or improve existing business activities.

Businesses that deliberately focus on moving up the digital maturity scale can achieve a state of continuous innovation. And that will impact metrics like productivity, employee and customer satisfaction — and even shareholder value.