Another year has passed and it’s been an exciting one – what else. It would be weird to say that nothing has happened and that it has been rather dull. If nothing had happened on the professional front I could at least have reported that I have given up my Munich home base after 39 years to relocate to Switzerland.
But of course stuff has happened…
Over the past 12 months I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with people from various functions, industries, countries and age groups. In pure figures it looks a little like this:
My key learning from all the conversations, thought exchange and conceptual work in a nut shell.
1. Awareness for business productivity & effectiveness
Intranet and Digital Workspace are finally on their way (not there yet though) to be as important to companies as the digital tools connected to their actual business logic. The times where only ERP, CRM & Co. get executive attention seem to be over. Business productivity and effectiveness have moved much higher on the leadership and management agenda. However, the level of investment (aka long term commitment) in information and knowledge work isn’t yet matching the one for enforcing, standardising and improving process & task based work. It’s definitely on the right way but it’s still easier to bump the 120 Million to 135 for an SAP installation than to get 200 grand for a fully functioning prototype of an application that will affect people’s work every single day.
2. IT departments have acquired new terminology
For years IT and management publications have been writing about the re-positioning of the IT departments. It had been predicted that IT will move much closer to the business side of things and argue their value through contribution instead of cost reduction. In many instances I have experienced customer and user centric thinking, which had not just been fluffy marketing talk. The awareness that functionality and up-time don’t really cut it anymore is definitely there. A lot of IT managers have changed from “here is it all, pick what you want” to “we can do almost anything if you let us explicitly know what you are trying to achieve with what you’re asking from us”. Requirements engineering isn’t “feature evaluation” anymore. It’s become the “seeking to understand before seeking to be understood” in business IT.
3. The internal Facebook isn’t the strongest competitor to e-mail anymore
Not ONE single client I have worked for had the “social intranet” vision anymore. It’s now about stealing with pride from all the successful services in the commercial world. The “conversation stream” has moved into the 2nd row on a lot of concept designs appreciated by business stakeholders.
The strongest competitor to e-mail is now a comprehensive and coherent concept for sending and receiving information. It’s less about “connecting the organisation” than about “enabling the individual to keep track of importance, urgency and interdependence”.
Concepts for notification, indication & orientation are becoming more and more important in order to make sure that users will find their way through the increasing jungle of communication & data.
4. The “enabling” intranet seems to be the one that might turn it into something work critical
When I am asked what my vision is for the future of intranets and the Digital Workplace my answer is usually:
The modern intranet or Digital Workplace has to be something that is work critical. It has to cause turmoil if you turn it off. It has to enable individuals to do their job with substantially less effort in order to unleash their potential for collaborative contribution. The modern intranet will make it easy to navigate through the continuously increasing complexity of today’s organisations. It will help people to overcome functional, geographical and hierarchical borders. It will create clarity, comfort and confidence for the every day work and become a motivating factor. It will be valuable.
“Enabling” people to do their job in confidence is an essential part of that vision. Have everything at hand that is required to create a proper foundation for individual success will be an important corner stone for collaborative contribution to corporate progress.
5. If you’re looking for the right anchor for the Digital Workplace…look out for a Lean Management initiative
One of my clients has directly connected the Digital Workplace with an initiative to introduce “Lean” to their organisation (aka continuous streamlining by everyone being in charge to identify areas for improvement). Another business contact has managed to connect the Digital Workplace to tightly to their business logic that parts of the business won’t be able to operate during a down time. I personally think that “Lean” is the right place for modern intranets and Digital Workplaces. It bridges individual enablement and collaborative exchange. It nurtures “us” thinking and creates awareness for the value that everyone can generate by just going through the work day with open eyes. The Digital Workplace can be the channel to collect, distribute, refine and implement everything that is required to be more “Lean”. I like the idea and I will pursue this more explicitly in 2015.
Now I am really curious what 2015 will bring…
Everybody take cover! Here’s an ad:
Even though I might be annoying my followers I would like to use this opportunity to (again) advertise the Digital Workplace Gold Dust white paper in which I have shared a lot of my insight an learning of the past years. If you can be dared please visit my employer’s website and request your personal copy…and sorry again…