The enhanced Digital Workplace
A Digital Workspace (DWS) or Digital Workplace is a set of techniques allowing a professional to access all his information, to communicate and to collaborate on his projects and activities. The DWS generally integrates a search engine, a document management and a corporate social network. It represents a further development of the intranet, allowing work from home and flexible working in time and space (Wikipedia).
In other words, the digital workplace tries to respond to the promise of “working anywhere and anytime” thanks to the dematerialization of the office and the digitization of exchanges (of documents, messages, conversations, etc.).
Accelerated by the widespread use of social networks, the health crisis and telecommuting habits, digital workplace deployments have become widespread in companies of all sizes, and share the following objectives:
- Optimize internal communication,
- Improve collaboration between colleagues or with partners,
- Increase employee productivity,
- Increase employee satisfaction (and retention).
The article “Technology and Organizational Change: Harnessing the Power of Digital Workplace” [i] offers a rather extensive study of the subject. In particular, the authors classify (and quantify) the main benefits for employees and for their company (if one can separate them so clearly, the company being a social organization).
Digital Workplace: Successful and new frontiers
Digital workplace solutions have progressed enormously in the last two or three years. Image and sound quality, adaptation to network performance, background images, application integration, ergonomic innovations, etc.
Working habits have been established and are now a matter of reflex. As a proof, the difficulty encountered by companies is to make their employees come back to the office!
With an annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 20% and a market estimated at $70B in 2026, there is no doubt that these technologies are and will remain among the stars of information systems. However, there are still a number of obstacles that need to be overcome in order for the promise to be fully realized.
In particular, it is still difficult to move beyond the boundaries of this digital workspace, which is, in the end, quite standardized, even if it is virtual.
- How do you integrate mobile employees?
- How can partners be integrated?
- The business applications that structure the company?
- Interconnecting various communication solutions?
4 ways to increase your Digital Workplace
Here we propose four extensions to the digital workplace perimeter, in as many functional areas. Applications, communication channels, hybrid communications and finally multilingualism.
Interacting with business applications
The digital workplace brings employees together in one virtual place. But what about their business applications (HRIS, Finance, ERP, CMMS, etc.)?
Twenty years ago, each application would have had its own “fat client” (!), with its own specific user experience, vocabulary, etc.
The access client is now replaced by a web interface, which is a real progress. All applications are accessible from the same browser, the dream…
An unfulfilled dream, because you have to connect, identify yourself and remember the interface of each application. Not too much of a problem for specialized users who are permanently connected.
But for the others, it is often an obstacle course, with training sessions that are forgotten, documentation that cannot be found, wasted time, calls to support and, in the end, a rather irritating experience.
Posting vacations, registering for a training course, retrieving a payslip, approving an invoice, finding the reference of an order, opening a support ticket… These processes concern many people in the organization and will be greatly facilitated when they are executed directly from the digital workplace, in the language of everyday life.
Multiplying communication channels
In the same way that it is possible to access the same audio program on different media (FM, DAB, website, streaming site…), users need to have several channels of access to their applications, depending on their job and their place of work at the time (at the office, at home, at the customer’s…).
While the company will choose and generalize a digital workplace application (MS Teams, Slack or Google Workplace for example), each employee will want to select his favorite communication application (SMS, WhatsApp or Messenger) when he doesn’t have access to the “in-house” solution, whatever the reason.
Connecting business applications across a wide range of communication services unites an organization’s employees around its business processes, rather than around any one technology, no matter how powerful.
Connect existing channels for an augmented Digital Workplace
Beyond user-to-application communications, some situations require communication between people using different channels.
For example, a tour operator that organizes long-distance trips will be contacted by its travelers on the most commonly used messenger (WhatsApp), while its support and assistance teams will be connected on their organization’s MS Teams application.
In the same way, the drivers of a logistics company will prefer to communicate by sms with the logistics department, which will be on the company’s digital workplace.
Interconnecting the different communication channels will eliminate silos while allowing each employee to choose the means that best suits their needs and constraints at the time.
Accept different languages
Natural language is, by definition, the universal medium for interconnecting people (read Natural Language, a Child’s Play) since it allows people who don’t know each other to talk to each other, as long as there is a minimum of common context.
Slight problem: there are many languages used in the world and few of us are truly multilingual.
Native multilingualism will allow users to interact with their business applications in the language of their choice… but also, why not, with each other while using their preferred language.
Supported by a rapidly evolving set of technologies, the digital workplace is a tremendous opportunity for productivity and flexibility for companies, and freedom and creativity for employees. Now that it has found its place at the heart of the company, let’s open it up to the vast world. Agora Software has chosen natural language as a universal medium of interaction, to bring users and digital solutions even closer together.
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Illustration: credit ciphr.com
[i] Auteurs : Mohsen Attaran, California State University, Sharmin Attaran, Bryant University and Diane Kirkland, California State University (2019).
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