This is the third in a series of five blog posts about some of the likely headline trends for 2015 in the intranet and digital workplace space.
One of my headline trends in the intranet and digital communications space is that interest in the “digital workplace”, particularly among the global intranet community, has been gaining momentum in 2014 and this is likely to continue in 2015. The term is being used more frequently and there is also more focus on taking a more strategic and holistic view of the digital experiences of employees.
However this does need to be put in perspective. The “digital workplace” is still a niche term and overall awareness is limited. Solid action and initiatives are even rarer, although I think this will grow in 2015.
But what is the digital workplace?
One of the problems around the term digital workplace is that there is no one accepted definition of it, although it obviously implies workplace technology. DWG, a company I work with extensively, defines it as:
“..the collection of all the digital tools provided by an organisation to allow its employees to do their jobs.”
But the term does mean different things to different people, and it easy to get into semantic knots trying to get an exact definition. However most definitions focus on or imply the value which can be gained from a more integrated and holistic user experience among employees of the workplace technology provided by organisations across different digital channels, applications and devices. There is value for employees themselves and for organisations.
Increased interest in the term
Some of the growing interest is specifically in the use of the term. A look at Google Trends shows that there has been an uptick in searches using the term since 2012. Although the numbers are still relatively small in comparison to a term like “intranet”, the upward trend is very clear.
It’s on the vendor agenda
An increasing number of organisations are also using the term. In recent years within the “intranet industry” both the Digital Workplace Group and Jane McConnell’s influential annual publication Digital Workplace Trends have rebranded to reflect the term.
However despite being a relatively specialist term which emerged from the intranet space there are now additional uses from a number of consultancies including PwC, Deloitte and Accenture. Perhaps the most significant organisation to use the term is Gartner who is now producing reports and even has a conference dedicated to it.
Interestingly if you look at the URL of this “digital workplace” topic page from Gartner it looks like the term may have replaced “High Performance Workplace”.
There are also some instances of use among software vendors and smaller agencies. Some of these are hosted intranet providers while others are increasingly describing Office 365 implementations as the “Digital Workplace”.
An intranet team rebrand?
There’s also a growth in interest among intranet team themselves. I have observed this in my conversations with intranet teams, in the appearance of the term on social media and in the tracks of some of the intranet conferences last year. I expect this will carry on in 2015.
Some previously intranet-related job titles are also changing to include “digital workplace” and there even a few digital workplace initiatives out there. While these are still limited, I suspect there will be more use through 2015 by intranet teams who wish to more accurately describe their wider remit. Initiatives such as Jonathan Phillips’ Institute of Digital Workplace Professionals also may increase awareness among the global intranet community.
But there is still a long way to go. For example it was encouraging to see that some of the top 14 most popular posts on DWG’s external blog were focused on the digital workplace, but the majority still covered intranets.
A growing awareness of the concepts behind the digital workplace
Although this post have specifically focused on the growth in interest in the term, I think there is also an increasing awareness of the importance of the user experience of digital channels which aren’t the necessarily the traditional “publishing-content-to-a-desktop” intranet.
The growth of mobile and social digital experiences at work, the emphasis on more integrated digital experiences from vendors (think how Office 365 has overtaken SharePoint), the increased awareness of the power of “digital transformation” from the C-suite. The digital workplace might not be your preferred term, but we are collectively starting to think about how we can deliver the experience of workplace technology in a more holistic and integrated way. I’m optimistic that this thinking will grow in 2015.