In the preparation of the IOM SUMMIT 2013 we have interviewed Oscar Berg, Strategist & Business Analyst at Avega Group (Sweden) and keynote speaker of the IOM SUMMIT 2013. Oscar is a topic expert in the field of Intranet Management and Enterprise 2.0 (see his profile in our Expert’s Profiles) and well-known for his thought-provoking contributions on “The Content Economy“. At the IOM SUMMIT 2013 he is giving an inspirational talk about the concept of the digital workplace and how the classical Intranet and Employee portal fits togehter with the idea of the social platform.
In our interview we have asked Oscar about his ideas on this topic and the challenges that go along with it.
1) As a key theme the IOM SUMMIT 2013 is discussing the changes for corporate information and collaboration concepts on their way from the classical Intranet towards the Digital Workplace. What is your evaluation of this topic?
Many of these needs will be addressed in the form of services that are provided within the Digital Workplace. The most important thing is to empower employees to get the right job – for the enterprise – done in the best way possible, and all other things should align with this. Collaboration capabilities and corporate information need to be provided in the services where it is relevant to the employee and the organization.
2) How do you define the concept of the Digital Workplace?
I have previously defined it as “a people-centric approach to empower knowledge workers by simplifying the online work environment for people doing information work”. I elaborate on this definition in what I call the 6 pillars of the Digital Workplace: http://www.thecontenteconomy.com/2013/09/the-6-pillars-of-digital-workplace.html
3) In your definition is “social” just a service part of the Digital Workplace. How important are the “social” components for the Digital Workplace?
To me, social is not simply a technology – it is a way to design technology so that it fits with human nature and leverages collaborative human behavior. Thus it should influence all service design and will be an integral part, a characteristic, of most services. To avoid becoming technology-centric, I prefer talk about five principles of social that need to guide the design of the Digital Workplace; openness, transparency, participation, dialog and recognition. For a social business, these principles should guide not only the design of technology solutions and services, but also leadership, performance models, organizational structures, and so forth.
4) In your opinion – what is the ideal development path towards the Digital Workplace?
The ideal – and highly recommended – development path is to establish a process of continuous development that minimizes risk and allows for experimentation, learning and introduction of incremental changes into the business. It can start as a pilot, on a very small scale. This is the direct opposite of buying a product or developing a big solution in a project and then deploying it to users without taking any responsibility or action for making sure that it is adopted and that ways of working are improved, generating the expected benefits.
5) Your idea of the Digital Workplace is very much collaboration-centric. Besides fostering collaboration there are also other objectives for the relaunch of the classical Intranet – as facilitating the learning organization or re-establishing a high level of employer engagement. How is the Digital Workplace paying into this objectives?
The reason for my focus on collaboration is that collaboration is what an organization fundamentally is about – and organization’s reason for existence is to bring people together so they can collaborate on a specific enterprise. Unfortunately, we tend to forget this since so much of this collaboration has been encoded, hidden, automated and steered in our processes and systems. Most collaboration in a large enterprise is running autopilot mode behind the scenes, but in a dynamic, competitive and unpredictable environment we can’t rely only on the auto-pilot for collaboration. Many organizations need to become more agile, innovative and productive to survive in this environment, and for that to happen collaboration must happen more freely – with more flexibility and also at greater scale if needed – proactively initiated and driven by the right people. The Digital Workplace should empower people to do this. The other aspects, such as facilitating learning and making employees more engaged, are all about empowering employees to size up for their tasks and work smarter together. There you have the connection, and the Digital Workplace needs to consider how to support these aspects as well.
6) What are the challenges and success factors on the way towards a successful Digital Workplace?
There are many, but one major challenge – and success factor – is to find ways to coordinate initiatives and harmonize development across a enterprise in order to minimize the complexity of the digital work environment for employees. This is also the main reason why there is a need for a holistic grip on the digital work environment and a holistic concept such as The Digital Workplace.
7) What is your advice to tackle first on the way towards the Digital Workplace?
Priority number one should be to get top executive buy-in and commitment and then establish a common vision, strategy and governance for executing the strategy and realizing the vision.