ECM and Digital Transformation

There are lots of tweets and blogs about the Digital Workplace and it really is many things to many people. I would suggest it is seen as a term which is a silver bullet to solve all the ills of current day IT within the enterprise. I’ve seen it used as a term to describe:
– the provision of web conferencing technologies to encourage remote working
– a new interactive and social intranet
– the provision of mobile technology to aid mobile workers 
There is an element of truth in all of these things, they are all initiatives which can improve how workers embrace digital technology to improve their work but on their own they will not achieve Digital Transformation within the Enterprise. On the other hand if an organisation approaches a Digital Workplace Transformation programme with a plan to achieve everything the likelihood is they will fail. Organisations need to define a strategy and a roadmap of projects to achieve this. Its important to note a Digital Workplace is not a pure technology programme but what I discuss here will have a technology bias towards it and in particular I am going to look at the role Enterprise Content Management has in a Digital Workplace Programme…but to begin with the discussion must always be about the business.
When looking to improve your Digital Workplace, or Digital Employee Experience, organisations should be looking to ask a number of questions including:
– How can we improve the productivity of our employees through new digital technology?
– How can we improve the experience of our employees to help them feel better engaged and informed?
– How can we promote flexibility in our workforce in how they access the information and tools they need to perform their roles?
– How can we help our employees work better with their supply chain outside of the organisation?
So what has this got to do with Enterprise Content Management, well if you ignore the ECM term for now and concentrate on what services are required for employees to interact with content:
– employees need the capability to share documents and content both internally and externally
– employees need the capability to access information, in the form of documents, at the point of action
to be honest the cynic in me suggests that these needs have always been there and in fact the technology has largely been there for the past 5 years!
All of these can play a role in the Digital Workplace but need to be considered as part of a business focussed stream, e.g.:
– An example of sharing document and content internally and externally could be the co-creation of a study between a Life Sciences company and the third party they contract to do a study of the effects of potential new drugs
– An example of accessing information at the point of action could be enabling access to asset documentation for field engineers in a utilities company
Its interesting to read EMC ECD talk about the (un)ECM approach to ECM and there is a lot to consider in this approach. Primarily we should be considering that the services we deliver are delivered as a series of lightweight services which can be easily consumed by the workplace. Users need an agile and flexible series of solutions which they can all upon to do their work and to do so without the typical timescales of corporate IT. For me one of the keys will be to handle the tensions between platforms and these lightweight services. Organisations will still need to understand how these services stitch together and there is every chance that they do so through an underlying platform, which could be considered the system of record…..but more on that in a future post.

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