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Digital transformation isn't a dream — it’s in Estonia. Two decades ago the small Republic of Estonia in Northern Europe began its journey to become the most advanced digital society in the world, where 99% of government services are available online and 98% of Estonians have ID cards providing access to all of Estonia’s e-services — minus the red tape.

Following the economic crisis in 2009, the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund (EUIF), in partnership with major IT company Nortal, transformed the government’s unemployment services from providing basic income support to providing the means to introduce people into society and the labor market. The EUIF platform automatically matches job offers with people looking for employment, increasing the efficiency of the application process, increasing overall income tax revenues to 143 million Euro ($159 million) and providing dignity through work.

Hallmarks of a Digitally Transformed Workplace

This is what digital transformation looks like: an organization-wide culture of automated processes, customer-centric services and agile, seamless information flows. It’s investing in technology and reconfiguring how service providers do things to make experiences and lives better.

The following signs are indicative of a digitally transformed workplace:

  • A customer-driven business model across the whole organization — Customers want the answers they need via their preferred applications. They care primarily about their apps (not the repositories behind them), customizing the apps for their work and personal lifestyle.
  • Automation of all critical business processes — Automated workflows, directed in their decisions by business rules and intelligence, significantly reduces workload and response times, and catches errors and fraud attempts much more accurately than if they were done manually.
  • Analytics that can determine the services and information customers need, based on the history of the user’s past preferences and behaviors.
  • Seamless access to information across channels and solutions.    

All of this requires flexible architecture, where the user’s preferred app can extract the answers they need no matter which repository the information comes from; no matter whether the data is structured or unstructured. Estonia’s unemployment service platform collects data from 13 different databases so that benefits can be more easily determined based on complete and accurate information.

Related Article: Failure to Launch: 5 Causes of Digital Transformation Failure

Where Content Management Fits in Digital Transformation

But a flexible architecture is also a more complex one, which is why content management is the right place to start when building your digital transformation strategy. A content management practice is designed to:

  • Understand the information needs of an organization.
  • Architect an integrated ecosystem of different information sources and formats (documents, videos, emails).
  • Set and apply access controls.
  • Measure the quality of information.
  • Gather accountable owners to manage system performance and communicate with users.
  • Classify and tag information so it can be found and retrieved by services and apps.

Metadata management is critical for sourcing information across disparate solutions and for differentiating active, critical information from temporary or unimportant information.

Layer on top of these capabilities newer, "intelligent" ones, which can automatically classify and tag content or notify content managers of anomalies in the data. Within the decade, using voice-activated devices powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to search for content (“voice searches”) will be as common as searches on a screen. Our own clients expect intelligent content services to help them quickly discover both structured and unstructured data, aggregate it by topic or case and present a meaningful story back to authorized users on their mobile devices. 

Related Article: Use a Chatbot for Digital Governance? Why Not?

New Workplace Needs Necessitate New Governance Frameworks

The new digital workplace requires a more complicated governance framework. A lot more information is at play, some of it now from outside the organization, e.g., social media information as inputs to sentiment reports. You don’t and shouldn’t need to govern everything that’s there. Identify the information that’s subject to regulatory compliance, that’s critical to business operations and shared widely across the organization. Bring in legal counsel and auditors to help draw those lines around what needs to be governed and what business rules and classifications to apply. Then try to routinize and even automate governance processes for those information sets, keeping a focus always on the information and solutions that enrich customer service. Reserve the more time-consuming and manual interventions by the governance working group for exceptions and changes.

For many of our clients, bringing together leaders from the functional areas to analyze their information systems and set new practices is the first time they’ve worked together in a structured way or understood what other teams were doing with information upstream and downstream of their own area. It’s often a powerful turning point in their headway towards a content management program. One of those leaders told me, “I thought we were organizing files. We’ve changed everything.”

That’s what transformation looks like — people relating to their information and to each other in different ways.