When we talk about Digital Workplace, it feels like something so abstract in a just-out-of-reach kind of way. I speak with clients who want a new, feature-rich intranet, but when I bring up the digital workplace concept, I get the patronizing smiles and nods as if I am selling them a rocket ship to Mars, when all they think they want is a "better intranet".
In my opinion, this is because many of these clients simply do not understand that what they are asking for is a digital workplace. And it is not their fault, it is the failing of all of us in the industry of digital transformation who have so easily hidden behind jargons and marketing-bloated buzz words.
Digital transformation and digital workplace are concepts that are already here, the question is how can we embrace it further. No CIO or similar wakes up one morning and says "we are now doing digital transformation." Elements are already available or in use in the organization, but mostly they are not fully ingrained in the day-to-day processes. That is what most Digital Transformation Consultants bring to the mix, we help (at least we like to think we do) companies align their people, processes, and technology. THAT is digital transformation.
But a digital workplace concept has a much harder time of being accepted. Many people are willing to accept the idea that digital transformation reimagines the proverbial production line for business processes. But in that scenario, where does digital workplace fit? In a simple way, digital workplace involves everything that an employee at that production line interacts with.
In another example, let's take the modern car. In this case, I am talking about the final product and its usage as a car - not the automotive industry or a specific car's assembly line, but the user-experience of owning and driving a car.
Digital transformation is responsible for many of the features in a modern car. From automatic headlights to computer-controlled throttle responses to optimize fuel economy; traction control systems to remote starters; rain-sensing wipers to radar-guided cruise control. These are all great systems that make the car operationally better.
In the same vein, digital workplace is what makes the drivers' environment seamless. When a driver enters the car with a given key fob, the seats and other setting adjust to the driver. The Android Auto or Apple CarPlay systems connect to their phone, check their appointments, and offer to navigate to the location of the first meeting of the day. Text messages are read out as they arrive, and - ideally - the car drives them to the office. A digital workplace is much more than an intranet - just as your car's interface with you is much more than just the dashboard.
Digital transformation makes the company operate better, optimizing how people and technology interact.
Digital workplace makes the person operate better, optimizing how they interact with technology and processes.