reflection of man with umbrella in a puddle on the sidewalk
PHOTO: Craig Whitehead

A number of themes arose recently in conversations with peers at some local meetings and while presenting at an international conference. While they may seem like separate threads, together I think they get to the heart of the questions we should be asking of our digital workplaces: What capabilities do we need to enable our vision of a future digital workplace; what tools enable those capabilities and where they overlap then; what is the right tool for the job? Once we have the tools, and the solution design in place, how will we manage the change to ensure maximum business impact?

A Timely Reminder: Change Management Is Important

I was lucky enough to present at the Boye Aarhus conference in Denmark early in November. One theme stuck with me after the conference: the importance of change management. Now, I know this is not an earth-shattering revelation for most, however a number of presentations at the conference touched on the subject from various angles and reiterated for me the importance of the subject as a whole. 

The sessions tackled issues ranging from tactical development issues when working in an agile methodology to the high-level strategic work required to actually change an organization's corporate culture. Under the overall heading of change management, we can include stakeholder management and communications, training activities and many other elements that may make a digital workplace adoption a success. When we give these activities less attention, cut them from the project budget when the inevitable financial pressure is applied, and generally consider them the "fluffy" stuff which is easily cut back, then we should not be surprised when user adoption does not meet our targets or the project flops.  

One presentation noted their organization allocated 14 people and 40 percent of the overall project budget to change management activities to support the deployment of the Office365 suite to around 40,000 users across the whole organization. If I still lived in Europe, I would want to work for that organization.

(As an aside: Any North American inhabitant who thinks a European conference might present language barriers know this: I went to a digital workplace governance workshop run by a Swedish person, an agile session by a Finnish person, a change management session by a German person, an Office365 session by a Swiss person,  and co-presented with a German person. They all speak better English than I do, and I am English! They all have nicer accents too ....)

Related Article: Start Digital Workplace Change Management on Day 1

The Right Tool for the Right Job

The "right tool for the right job" subject keeps popping up. Sometimes you have to let standards rule the roost, sometimes you have to accept there is no "one size fits all" answer, whether in reference to the collaboration tools as discussed last month or some other element of your digital workplace. 

A good governance structure should provide both the framework and the enablers to discuss requirements and then make a decision, and then enforce compliance with that decision once made. At work we have been putting a lot of effort into a business architecture which allows us to frame these discussions with our technology partners. I didn't specifically call out the utility of a good model of the business capabilities you need or want in my previous article, so I'm mentioning it now.

Related Article: How to Apply Governance to Your Collaboration Tools

Moving Your Intranet to the Cloud

Although I primarily work on search at the moment, I am still involved in looking at the future direction and development of our digital workplace, and in particular the utility of SharePoint Online within the Office365 suite. Sam Marshall's "Adding Value to Sharepoint Intranets" was a timely and interesting read in this context, as is the SharePoint intranets-in-a-box report published by ClearBox Consulting. 

This space offers considerable opportunity as Microsoft continues to add new functionality such as the Modern UI, Communications Sites and Hub sites, but as Marshall wrote, SharePoint alone may not meet all your requirements and a plethora of products are out there at various functional and budgetary levels to help you build out your vision.

Viewing these trends as a whole, I think it's safe to say 2019 will be a very interesting year in the digital workplace space.