Businesspeople dealing with chaos unleashed by rapid technology change need a “productivity anywhere” model.
The traditional, office-based work model has been upended by the pandemic, scattering marketing teams to their homes or other workplaces. The spectacular growth of web-based video conferencing, collaboration and other tools has supported this transformation, blurring the lines between the physical office and the place where creative work actually happens.
A recent Accenture Report found that 63% of high-growth companies have already adopted a ‘productivity anywhere’ workforce model. Meanwhile, most companies are grappling with their own hybrid approach — mixing in-person collaboration with off-site work.
The challenge is how companies adjust both strategically and tactically to these rapid changes that most analysts believe will be a permanent feature in the workplace of tomorrow. While many refer to this new paradigm as the “digital workplace,” defining what makes a successful digital workplace is always challenging. There are dozens of definitions. Some of these definitions focus on specific concepts, while others encompass multiple aspects of digital workplace trends. It’s a broad term and as the concept grows in popularity its definition will continue to develop.
As we look at the digital workplace, we see two key issues that must be addressed to achieve a workspace where marketing teams and companies thrive in this rapidly changing era — technology, chaos and culture.
What is a Digital Workplace?
One way to define the digital workplace is that it integrates the technologies that employees use (from e-mail, instant messaging and enterprise social media tools to HR applications and virtual meeting tools) and breaks down communication barriers, enhancing the employee experience by fostering efficiency and innovation.
Ultimately, digital workplace solutions represent the natural evolution of the workplace, which gathers a set of technologies, platforms, and tools digital employees need to deliver business results.
This includes multiple aspects, such as:
● Social and collaborative tools
● Communication and messaging apps
● Cloud storage tools
● Corporate intranet platforms
● Knowledge management systems
● Documentation sharing and storing
● Content management systems
● Internal and external content sharing tools
● Mobile device integration
● …And many more
While a common definition of the digital workplace is that it creates a centralized hub for employees to access information and perform their work responsibilities, regardless of their location or which device they use, this simple definition ignores the real ability of companies to absorb rapid change.
Chaos of Technologies
Many describe the digital workplace in terms of tools that have solved the basic connectivity and collaboration issues, but in fact this definition doesn’t address both technical and cultural issues that have been exacerbated in the last few years.
A major issue companies are experiencing right now is chaotic workplace tech stacks. This is because companies have had to scramble over the past couple of years to cobble together different tools that enable their teams to perform every single aspect of work from their homes.
For example, most organizations have tools for analytics, collaboration, content management and project management, but these tools are separate.
They may have BI and data management tools for analytics, tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack for collaboration, and still more tools for cataloging data, reports, building models and project management.
The tools are often able to work together through integrations and connectors, enabling teams to access analytics assets while in their collaboration or project management environments, for example. But those integrations and connectors can be clumsy, draining productivity. The result is that a large portion of a team member’s days are spent app switching — going from app to app to figure out where things live and where conversations took place. This is a major time and productivity killer.
Benefits of an Integrated Digital Workplace
A fully integrated digital workplace would provide teams with everything they need to get their work done in a single platform. Conversations about content, for instance, should happen exactly where the content lives, rather than in a separate chat channel. If a data visualization needs to be edited, a team member can leave feedback right on the visualization and then chat further with a team member about it – without ever leaving the platform.
This stream of-consciousness approach enables much longer stretches of uninterrupted productivity than what companies are currently able to achieve. However, this approach requires broad integration with industry standards and open APIs, and might include direct integration with Microsoft platforms such as OneDrive, SharePoint, Azure ML, Microsoft Analysis Services, and more. And Google platforms such as Google Drive, Google Analytics, Google Ads, GoogleML, and Google BigQuery.
The Integrated Digital Workplace in Marketing
If we look at marketing teams, for example, we can see how a fully integrated digital workspace improves efficiency, speed and innovation. Marketing teams are highly collaborative and they rely on many tools – they need to connect with all their sales and marketing systems, CRM systems, ABM systems, digital marketing campaigns, and their internal data. And they need to collaborate with creatives, web developers, SEO specialists and content managers both in-house and with agencies.
With a fully integrated digital workplace, one that integrates data analytics, project and information management, chat, and goals-based strategy benchmarking, marketing teams get a full view of their customer journey and customer acquisition costs to help easily manage campaigns, content, events, design and more. And with a single system to record everything, every individual on a marketing team knows what’s going on and can collaborate on the point of impact to drive results. This means:
· Collaboration between the different marketing channels is in one place – SEO, Paid, Social, Affiliates
· More visibility on team priorities
· All data from the different channels is in one place
· Marketing teams often work with external partners – agencies, freelance consultants — digital workplace solutions can make collaboration with external partners easier
Addressing the Big Issue: Cultural
With the focus on technologies, we often miss the most important factor in the success of any new technology evolution: the cultural and adoption issues. What’s unique with the new digital workplace is that it offers the opportunity to resolve issues that were also occurring in the physical office and are now extending remotely as well.
As noted in a recent Forbes article, “The problems that you had in the physical office, you have the same problems in the digital workplace. Is everyone aligned on objectives?” Does everyone understand the work they need to get done?”
Providing Transparency — A Missing Element in the Physical or Digital Workspace
From a strategy perspective, digital workplaces must do more than just connect people together. They must also address other workplace challenges that were apparent even when everybody worked in the same building. One of these is a lack of transparency across teams.
A lack of transparency can show up in many different forms: not knowing what other people are working on, not knowing which problems need to be solved, what’s expected of them or where the things they need to do their job are. Basically, not having full visibility into the factors that influence success in their roles.
When teams don’t have transparency, they spend a disproportionate amount of time in meetings and reporting on what they’re working on, rather than actually doing the work.
When leaders don’t have the full picture, they often move to one of two sides of the management spectrum. They will either be super hands off because they don’t know that there are issues blocking progress. Or they will end up deep into the weeds where they can see absolutely everything going on but begin micromanaging while they’re there. Neither of these scenarios benefit performance, which requires a balance of both autonomy and mentoring.
New integrated digital workplaces such as Slingshot from Infragistics provide this transparency across teams, and offer more than simple communications or collaboration.
With this digital workplace, you can:
● Collaborate with your team
● Manage and track tasks, projects, and processes
● Have visibility on engagement and progress
● Pinpoint and resolve any issues or delays in time
● Keep all relevant files and drive insights through data
A Digital Workplace That Connects Everyone to Everything They Need to Get Work Done
To boost team results, a true digital workplace connects everyone you work with to everything they need–content, projects, analytics, and chats. It combines all the digital tools a marketing organization needs for its teams to perform at their highest level. By connecting project management, data, chat, and content management all into one application your limit to productivity is endless.