A look at Digital Workplace Trends in 2013

It is an exciting time for digital practitioners and 2013 promises to be a turning point for many organizations. The digital workplace concept is gaining momentum as organizations are beginning to realize that work is fundamentally changing

This is one of the opening quotes that can be found in the Digital Workplace Trends Report 2013 created and published by renowned intranet and digital workplace expert Jane McConnel. The report is the 7th in a series of annual survey, until 2011 known as the Global Intranet Trends report, and was based on an online survey with 362 participating organizations from several industries located primarily in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.

Jane was kind enough to let me take a look into the findings of this year’s edition.

In the report, the concept of a digital workplace is defined as follows:

A coordinated, holistic view of information, collaboration and application platforms, services and tools used by the workforce to support their work. It includes managed, collaborative, social and mobile dimensions.

The findings highlight the differences between two major groups: the early adopters and all other organizations. The report sees 2013 as being the year for digital workplace awareness and experimentation for most organizations, while for early adopters change facilitation will be predominantly on the table.

2013 is also expected to be the year companies tackle the mobile access challenge and put some structure & governance, as well as facilitating search and content discoverability, through investments in information organization via actions of information architecture, taxonomies and tagging.

Some key findings I’d highlight from this year’s report:

  • main drivers for tackling on the digital workplace challenge are improved organizational intelligence and improved efficiency & cost savings
  • capabilities related to social collaboration and seen as more transformative regarding the way work currently gets done in companies (commenting, user-generated content, crowdsourcing and social networking) are those where the gap between deployment and adoption is wider. I could argue that several factors might help explain this gap, including the fact that the distribution of participation inside the firewall might not exactly follow the famous 90-9-1 rule but some sort of distribution of participation (through commenting or producing contents) will always exist
  • older technologies such as video or web conferencing and real time messaging seem more mature, both in terms of implementation and adoption, than, for example, activity streams. I think some factors might help explain this: the benefits for each employee are easier to perceive: “I cannot travel to that meeting but I can still attend from a distance via videoconference”, “If it weren’t for the web conferencing functionality I might not even be involved in this discussion”, “Not sure if colleague A is at her desk, I’ll just ping her via the internal instant messaging system since she is connected”. As for activity streams, and as I’ve discussed before, the lack in digital literacy on how to benefit from social tools to get work done might hinder their adoption.
  • when it comes to integrating social into existing business processes, the report states that “very few organizations have embedded social capabilities into enterprise processes”. This is not surprising and supports what other surveys and stories from early adopters have shown. But there is an increasing awareness as to the potential benefits of integrating social capabilities with other systems that support work, while at the same time the embedding of social would help transform existing business processes, though this seems easier said than done.

For a full account of the findings of the report, beautifully organized as highlights ready to use in meetings or other internal discussion sessions, you can purchase the 2013 report here.

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