We’re starting to see an increasing demand for our customers to transform the way they interact with their employees, and also their partners. There are a plethora of different names for the solutions which can be deployed including the Digital Workplace, the Social Workplace, the Connected Workforce and many more. At the core of the demand is the need to provide employees with the right tools to produce, access and share the information they require to perform their roles. With the rise of Consumerisation and ever increasing number of productivity and social apps which are available to people in their domestic lives there is a growing need to provide these tools in a business context.
There are a huge number of scenarios where business use of these tools could provide real value:
– consider those industries where organisations work with 3rd parties, especially where the 3rd parties are involved in the construction or maintenance of assets.  Using sync and share technologies they can more effectively and easily share content and access information through multiple devices no matter whether they reside as users inside the firewall or not;
– the use of Gamification to increase the effective sharing of information in knowledge centric industries, e.g. in Life Sciences. My own experience has shown that sharing knowledge and information in these types of organisations is sporadic but we have also seen Gamification being used to increase this;
– the use of microblogging or internal social networks in fast paced organisations, perhaps in situations where there are peaks and troughs of activity in the business and where it is vital to keep employees updated on situations, Policing would be an obvious example but Gatwick Airport used these tools in 2012 during the London Olympics
A lot of the information I have read have suggested the solutions which are required are intranet solutions. I’d beg to differ on this, however an intranet is one of the pillars of any solution to address this. There does need to be an access point but the multitude of access points for this information and the distributed nature of the users means that there will be numerous tools and interfaces. In fact one of the main challenges for organisations is to understand just how their people are accessing and sharing this information. With the huge increase in mobile and number of readily available apps to help users are increasing using their own initiative to provide themselves with these tools. This may, or may not, be a risk to their employers but for one things is sure. Organisations need to find a way to provide these services as easy as they are available in the consumer world but with the control required in the corporate world. Maybe, finally, IT do need to become a much more service provider focussed department who can stand up a collection of different services more rapidly and easily than perhaps has been done previously. Once these services are established then the role of IT is focussed on two areas:
1. Ensuring the successful, secure and ongoing operation of these services
2. Providing the advice and guidance to the business of how these services can be joined to meet the specific needs they have
The latter will enable IT to demonstrate much more business value and will require much more business savvy people in these roles.