The Digital Workspace – More than just an intranet

Posted 18 November 2014 12:00 AM by Katya Linossi, Managing Director @ ClearPeople

We are all feeling the impact of the pace of change in the world of technology. An increasing demand for global collaboration and a need for a seamless experience across multiple devices is paramount as so much of our day to day lives has become digitised.

Organisations are witnessing this demand like never before, needing to satisfy not only their own paying customers but also their internal customers (employees) too through digital tools such as the intranet, wikis, instant messaging and search. The term “Digital Workspace” is hence being used more and more frequently to describe the way in which organisations need to work.

So what is Digital Workspace, and more specifically the Digital Workspace Maturity Framework?

A Digital Workspace is more than just an intranet or technology. It is defined by working in a more collaborative, engaging and productive way that enables individuals to work from any place in the world at any time. This is advantageous not only for an organisation in terms of cost savings and increased productivity, but also for their external customers who expect an efficient and timely service. As demand for this increases, some of the tools and processes required for organisations to improve efficiency and share knowledge are now more readily available and easier to use and implement.

When doing research on intranet maturity models, it came to my attention that many of them were either outdated or did not satisfy our clients’ requirements. So I decided to use the best elements of these models to create a more relevant illustration of digital workspace maturity – aptly named the ClearPeople Digital Workspace Maturity (DWM) Framework. This is predominantly based on the Razorfish Intranet Maturity Framework (2006).

Digital Workplace Maturity Framework

The ClearPeople DWM Framework is by no means perfect nor academic. However, it is a useful way to understand what your organisation’s digital workspace is achieving right now, and more importantly, identify what you want it to achieve in the future. The model can also be used to help recognise what tools, technology, processes and people you may need for each stage as the digital workspace grows to have more strategic value within your business. The stages are not necessarily sequential.

Stage 1 – Information Publishing

Traditionally, Stage 1 is your classic intranet, focused on primarily meeting the most basic of employee needs such as the dissemination of news, providing an organisation chart and relevant templates for each department. It has a low level of resources and a very low degree of management is required. For organisations that currently have no digital workspace, this stage can easily be bypassed and they can progress along the maturity scale instantly given that many technologies such as SharePoint for example, include out-of-the-box collaboration and other relevant features.

Stage 2 - Interaction

This is the stage where employees are provided with information and services that enable them to better manage their work. They can now contribute to the digital workspace through available tools like wikis and discussion forums. This stage provides easily measurable benefits that reduce employee overhead, streamline business processes and could result in a more paperless organisation.

Stage 3 – Collaboration

This is where the true Digital Workspace starts by typically incorporating collaboration and social tools so that employees have a single interface through which they can communicate, collaborate and share knowledge with one another via multiple devices, rather than a variety of tools from which to do so. The focus of this stage is collaboration while continuing to improve communication, information-sharing and self-service components.

Stage 4 – Dashboard

This stage includes all features and functionality from preceding stages but is fundamentally concerned with displaying business information (often of a confidential nature) through an intranet interface to specific users (mostly senior level employees). These dashboards give new significance by not only empowering employees to communicate, collaborate or conduct business tasks but also assess the performance of their business units.

Stage 5 – Consolidated Workspace

Unlike the earlier stages, the Digital Workspace responds to the way employees accomplish tasks in the workspace. This stage includes integrating legacy applications into one single, consolidated and dynamic interface. Very few organisations achieve Stage 5 owing to the dramatic organisational and technical changes as well as the investment required.

As aforementioned, the progression through the model is not necessarily sequential, and moving from one stage to the next does not mean that what is done in an earlier stage is no longer required in later stages. For example, the provision of information does not move out of focus once an organisation advances to another stage, but should also be moved to the next stage in its evolution.

In conclusion, the ClearPeople Digital Workspace Maturity Model, like most models of its nature, reflects the broad nature of the Digital Workspace and the changing world of work in general. As businesses aim to satisfy the growing demands of their internal and external customers as technology advances and raises expectations, the Digital Workspace needs to evolve. There is no “one size fits all” approach as all organisations have different requirements and priorities. I believe the model is an excellent guideline in seeing the art of the possible but it is by no means definitive; a detailed discovery phase and user requirements gathering is essential to pin down an organisation’s current situation and future planning.

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