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Gartner shook up the enterprise content management industry in 2017 when it introduced the concept of content services and bid farewell to the ECM Magic Quadrant. Now, it has turned its attention to the digital transformation space, at the recent Gartner Symposium/ITxpo it “evolved” digital transformation into ContinuousNEXT.

What Is ContinuousNEXT?

Mike Harris, executive vice president and global head of research at Gartner, explained that organizations need to be more adaptive to change and that enterprise leaders need to bring new practices, develop new capabilities and create new ways to succeed in the digital world and workplace. This, in a nutshell, is ContinuousNEXT.

“The transition to digital is undeniable and accelerating, disrupting both government and business models. These new models redefine the way organizations create, deliver and capture value. They are challenging the way CIOs operate, bringing new mindsets and new practices to IT,” Harris said at the conference. There are five elements that make up the ContinuousNEXT approach:

  1. Privacy
  2. Augmented Intelligence
  3. Culture
  4. Product Management
  5. Digital Twins

In terms of running and managing a digital workplace, all five play a significant role, however, two are particularly important:

Culture - Culture, according to 46 percent of CIOs surveyed by Gartner, is the largest barrier to realizing the promise of digital business. Leaders need to shift decision-making authority so others can take action. CIOs should let the person with the “great idea” become the CEO of their idea.

Too Much Collaboration - For many companies the digital workplace has become synonymous with digital workplace tools through the digital desktop, said Brad Killinger, CEO of Sapience Analytics. The thinking here is that the more digital tools you have to support collaboration, the more productive the workplace will be. In fact, research has found that there is such a thing as too much collaboration because it can be distracting and counter-productive to workplace effectiveness.

“In the digital collaboration tool space, there are now hundreds of offerings — Slack, Facebook Workplace — and yet work hours are getting longer and productivity is dropping,” he said.

“Therefore, improved digital collaboration should not be associated with improved workplace productivity or improved digital experience (employee experience). The goal of a digital workplace is to put in place the means to support — measure — and optimize effectiveness, productivity and employee engagement.”

Often executives make decisions to bring collaboration tools into the workplace without first having an understanding of what factors are really impacting work and the digital experience. Collaboration tools are seen as the great panacea — a digital band-aid to pump up productivity.

“Like any enterprise technology deployment, it is vital to have an understanding of what problem the solution is intended to solve — find the why,” Killinger said. “What are you trying to accomplish? Is productivity faltering due to clunky systems, archaic circuitous processes, unneeded task repetition and redundancy — and are these problems stemming from technology, process, a deficiency in training, or a policy issue?”

Related Article: 9 Technology Trends Shaping the Digital Workplace in 2018

Digital Tools Don't Make a Digital Workplace

If the digital workplace is not simply a compilation of digital tools, what is it? Riversand's global VP of marketing, Katie Fabiszak, argues that the digital workplace is the sum total of all the various apps and programs being run by different people and teams across different regions of a company's geographical footprint — together with all the data being produced.

A digital workplace is also a workplace that has been redefined and harmonized with the use of a systemwide easily accessible digital work-grid made up of compatible technologies and information sharing practices for handling the data output.

To get started, a company has to find the right definition of what a digital workplace means for the organization — no company should try to tackle digital just for the sake of doing it. Define the business goals and how digital will be embodied in the organization. Next, strong executive support and leadership are required — there must be buy-in and participation at the top.

“Ultimately, successful digital workplaces understand it's about way more than just technology — culture and organizational changes are required,” she said.

Jai Davda, director of infrastructure at FormAssembly, offers a list of four elements a digital workplace must have to succeed:

  • Trustworthy Workforce - In a remote workplace, it’s key to hire employees that can be trusted to manage their time effectively and work without constant supervision.
  • Defined Organizational Structure - In addition to building a self-motivated, reliable team, digital workplaces must have a defined organizational structure so that all employees clearly understand their individual roles, place in the organizational hierarchy, and the flow of decisions throughout the company.
  • Strategic Meetings - Successful digital workplaces know how to use meetings to their advantage instead of allowing them to eat up valuable time. Daily 20- to 30-minute stand-ups, for example, are an example of a meeting format that holds employees accountable and keeps projects on track.
  • Smart Technology for Communication - Email alone is not sufficient for digital workplace communication. The ideal method involves using chat software, such as Slack or Flow dock, that enables open, asynchronous communication between team members. This software also provides a written record of work done and decisions made that is searchable and centralized.

Related Article: 7 Ways to Measure Workplace Collaboration and Productivity Tool Efficacy

Measuring Success

Chris Steele, VP of technology at Cisco-owned Saggezza, a global IT consulting firm, has helped numerous companies in different verticals with their digital transformations. Businesses can't examine a single score to understand the value and success of their digital workplace initiative without also considering the driver of that initiative and the problems to be solved, he points out.

This is the very core of the enterprise definition of a digital workplace. While simple tool rollouts may utilize adoption rates as a measure, other initiatives that increase capabilities for multi-channel communication and journey management would have very different success metrics than those designed to improve data availability, access control and retention; as such, any meaningful benchmark is derived primarily from the business case. “I would be very hesitant to trust any one-size-fits-all measurement,” he said. Defining the digital workplace comes down to identifying what it is you want to do or accomplish and what tools can help you do that.