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On any given day, CIOs are being asked to drive digital transformation, reduce costs, minimize risk, enable everyday efficiencies, deliver a great employee experience, and more. Handling these competing strategic and operational priorities requires a daily balancing act to produce results, align roadmaps and keep everything moving in the right direction. But there’s hope, because many of the challenges CIOs face can be resolved by tackling one fundamental issue: the “messy middle.”

Sorting Out That Messy Middle

The messy middle is where most of work is conducted: the inconsistent processes, broken workflows, overlapping applications, shadow IT, and overreliance on email that characterizes much of the everyday experience of work. The resulting inefficiency and frustration directly interferes with employees’ attempts to get things done as much as it hangs over the CIOs and IT managers who want to do something about it.

Unfortunately, there’s not always a straightforward fix. IT departments often focus their attention on the front end (customer experience) and the back end (large ERP systems) but find that establishing a digital workplace that truly sorts these problems out is a much harder nut to crack.

Organizations that introduce a single comprehensive solution or platform can successfully deliver flexible workflows and collaboration. This in turn can actually repair some of the broken processes and iron out the inefficiencies found in the messy middle.

In fact, it becomes possible to design a digital workplace that senior leaders, employees and especially CIOs will love, leading to a more coherent, consistent and enjoyable digital employee experience.

Let’s take a deeper dive into some of the approaches CIOs can take to create a better digital workplace and the benefits they can deliver.

Related Article: Why a True Digital Workplace Transforms the 'Messy Middle'

Simplifying the Application Landscape

Most application environments have evolved to be incredibly complex and less than efficient. In a common workplace, this typically consists of overlap, duplication, silos, inconsistent experiences and difficult to retire legacy systems. This scenario is usually a consequence of the sheer pace of change, expediency and a lack of governance, as well as merger and acquisitions activity.

CIOs don’t have the luxury to completely start over and design everything from scratch, but introducing improvements that rationalize and standardize the portfolio of applications can make a real difference. Sorting out the messy middle can significantly reduce redundancy. The benefits that flow from this include easier day to day management, a reduction in licensing costs with retired systems, a more consistent digital workplace experience, and more.

Reducing Shadow IT (And the Need for It)

The only viable, sustainable strategy to reduce shadow IT is to provide compelling solutions so that local teams and employees don’t need or want to use alternative solutions.

Employees just want to get things done using tools and apps that are straightforward and convenient. If current workflows and processes make it hard for them, they will inevitably turn a blind eye to the involved risk and use unapproved applications. However, when employees find they can easily use enterprise software to carry out tasks and processes that are actually centered around the way they work, they are far less likely to turn to risky applications.

Reducing Custom Development and New Application Requests

Many requests submitted to IT departments for new applications, custom development or specific tools are rooted in a desire to plug the gaps between tools, inefficient workflows or a lack of flexibility. Using a solution like Kissflow helps reduce these time-consuming and costly requests that only add to digital workplace complexity and can drain the time and attention of IT teams. CIOs and development managers don’t like saying “no” — instinctively they want to help people and provide solutions that have impact. Having a flexible tool means they are able to say “yes” far more often.

Digital Enablement

Different divisions, lines of business, teams and even employees want control and autonomy over their IT and processes. In larger and more complex organizations where there is some degree of decentralization of IT services, there is often tension between the central IT function and local IT teams. The central team wants to drive standardization to maximize costs and minimize risks, but local teams want to “do their own thing,” Because Kissflow is so flexible, it allows lines of business to build process improvements without compromise that also ticks the box for global IT.

Kissflow also genuinely provides digital enablement to everyone in the business. Because non-IT professionals can configure and automate their own workflows, Kissflow democratizes process improvement. Our clients quickly start to see exciting results with digital enablement at scale, driving innovation, efficiency and agility; which positively influences their organizational culture.

Supporting Digital Transformation

“Digital transformation” is an overused term that covers everything from new digital services for customers to a complete overhaul of the way people work. It is applied both to dramatic, rapid change, and to slower evolution. Whatever the focus of digital transformation, process improvement and digital enablement are often key “ingredients” that support the change. Look under the hood of digital transformation and you’ll find workflows, automation and greater adoption of digital tools.

Providing process automation at scale and digital tools for the workforce to steer their own improvements can play a significant role in achieving your wider strategic goals and advancing your digital maturity.

Digital Employee Experience

Employee experience is emerging as a significant C-suite agenda item, with senior leaders recognizing the contribution that a positive everyday experience of work makes, with beneficial outcomes including reduced turnover, increased productivity and better customer experiences.

With the digital workplace environment being a key ingredient of employee experience, there is significant value in reducing information and app overload and driving process improvements. Employees find a fragmented digital landscape intensely frustrating. By making things easier for them, CIOs are delivering improvements employees recognize and genuinely appreciate.

Future-Proofing and Planning

With an application landscape that’s more under control, it’s far easier to plan and deliver a technical roadmap that delivers a strong user experience and also aligns with your business’s strategic goals. Future planning, in turn, becomes a more reliable and predictable activity.

Changing Perceptions of the IT function

If CIOs can deliver on all of the above, an indirect consequence will be changing the perception of IT into a more strategic and effective partner. This can also apply to IT staff inside the function, who can feel like they are making a stronger contribution to the organization and its deeper goals. IT professionals are no longer regarded as the people who just tell employees to turn their machines on and off and maintain the status quo.

A Digital Workplace That Everyone Loves

Employees love an improved digital workplace because it removes frustration and improves processes and workflows. Senior leaders love a better digital workplace because it drives digital transformation and organizational change. CIOs love a better digital workplace because their stakeholders are happier, not to mention it also reduces costs and risks, and can even change perceptions of the IT function.

Is it time to create that digital workplace?