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5 steps for digital workplace transformation

Organizations each have their own challenges in a digital workplace transformation. Here are five tips for a smooth transition toward that digital experience.

As a tech-savvy leader, you are sold on the prospects for digital transformation, the use of technology to enable innovation and creativity within an organization. You recognize that the rapid adoption of cloud computing, content technologies, big data analytics, mobile touchpoints and AI promises to let applications tackle a larger share of workplace chores.

But where do you begin? How do you develop the novel applications that can augment workers' activities and push you toward a successful digital workplace transformation?

Your challenge is more evolutionary than revolutionary. When you launch an innovative digital initiative, you will be part of an ongoing workplace with established players and business practices, if only to disrupt them.

Here are five tips to make that digital workplace transformation.

1. Recognize actionable opportunities

Start by recognizing actionable opportunities within your business operations. Approach the prospects for digital transformation from a business instead of technology perspective. Line-of-business (LOB) teams should lead this effort, coordinating closely with senior IT staffers to identify critical barriers to success.

Of course, each organization faces its own set of challenges. But, at the onset, step back and identify key themes -- accelerating innovation, enhancing productivity, improving governance or reshaping the steps in the customer journey -- that make good business sense. Consider operations as a whole, while focusing on people and processes, and determine your target audiences: employees, partners and/or customers.

Then, engage a cross section of these audiences in conversations about what they are doing and how they understand the underlying business purposes. Develop both the technology and the business insights about what is happening from the participants' perspectives. Listen carefully as they describe their tasks, and be sure to observe how they do their work to determine where bottlenecks occur.

2. Script plot lines

Business-oriented conversations should drive technology assessments. These conversations provide senior IT staffers with the directions to script plot lines, weaving together novel technologies with existing enterprise applications and content repositories to transform digital experiences.

When you launch an innovative digital initiative, you will be part of an ongoing workplace with established players and business practices.

Working collaboratively with business team members, IT staffers should lead this scripting effort. With their technical insights, they are on the hunt for the time-consuming, labor-intensive activities where digital technologies can mitigate risks, reduce costs and perhaps even increase revenues. Some areas of focus include the following:

  • investigating approaches for digitizing manual or repetitive steps embedded within high-value processes;
  • finding ways to eliminate friction;
  • considering more automated ways to support governance requirements; and
  • describing the minimum viable product (MVP) -- what the essential elements of the transformed digital workplace should include -- in operational terms.

Workers expect to be both connected and productive while on the go, but mobile apps are only the tip of the iceberg. A work-from-anywhere ethos begs the question about how LOB teams coordinate tasks to achieve business objectives. Front-end experiences must still connect to back-end applications and content repositories. It is up to IT staffers to clarify the options and identify low-hanging fruit, where novel technology investments will likely lead to sizable business benefits.

3. Trace content flows

Accessing relevant content is often overlooked when scripting plot lines. Content includes the data elements, metadata that labels data elements and the core algorithms for interpreting the two. Content quality, sometimes referred to as data quality, poses perhaps the most substantial challenge to the success of any initiative.

This is where an IT group can demonstrate its expertise. IT staffers should trace the underlying content flows required to transform digital work. A comprehensive content audit is necessary to identify what types of content are being stored in which repositories across an enterprise. Content should flow seamlessly and be readily accessible, rather than being confined to one stovepiped repository or another.

digital transformation chart

Cloud-powered connectivity promises digital workplace transformation by delivering next-generation middleware tools for accessing content within back-end repositories. Not surprisingly, there is an explosion of content services tailored to specific situations. The ability to federate access to multiple repositories on demand -- directly retrieving content elements at runtime, while continuing to store and manage them within their existing repositories -- is the key to success.

For example, Mobius from ASG Technologies amplifies on-demand connectivity through extensive content services. It accesses disparate repositories and produces a consistent view of the multiple content elements. Using these long-standing capabilities, Mobius is introducing embedded workflow capabilities to simplify and transform digital work. Mobius 9.1 links content elements from multiple sources to automate work-related tasks.

Remember, content is the oil for transforming digital work, reducing friction from weaving together novel technologies with existing applications and repositories. Recognize where aggregating content in new ways will become valuable to business operations.

4. Add intelligence

Once you establish a modern content infrastructure and can easily connect to back-end repositories, you have the framework for making front-end investments. To add intelligence to your digital workplace, AI-related services -- accessible through cloud connectivity -- are readily available.

For instance, Box demonstrates how a modern content infrastructure transforms the digital workplace. Box Skills augments the capabilities of Box by adding machine learning, text analytics, speech processing and image recognition services produced by an array of third parties, including Microsoft, IBM and Google. At the same time, Box Relay can use a wide range of metadata and workflow capabilities to link together work activities in innovative ways.

5. Iterate and prepare for serendipity

All in all, it helps to maintain a perspective. You are on a journey, heading in a general direction with no fixed endpoint. Be sure not to overplan or overdesign the steps for transforming digital work. Continue conversations with target audiences, and keep LOB teams involved when scripting new plot lines.

Focus on the content flows necessary to produce the MVP and then on the steps to extend the digital workplace in new directions. Continue to tune and refine in light of experience. Maintain flexibility, iterate through multiple options, test and update. And, with resilience and agility, take advantage of opportunities that you did not initially consider when you began your digital journey.

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