Workplace and workforce transformation has been an ongoing journey in the last couple of years, though the widespread proliferation of IT has dramatically altered the conventional ways in which employees connect, collaborate, and communicate with each other.
Moreover, this change has accelerated due to some rudimentary changes in the industry, such as an increasingly aging workforce, with baby boomers continuing to retire, warranting organizations to capture their knowledge, and create a dynamic repository. Additionally, a sudden upsurge in the amount of information out there has made it challenging for employees to find the exact information they are looking for. As an organization’s workplace continues to evolve, and employee expectations shift, organizations that do not embrace the digital workplace risk falling behind their peers.
What is a digital workplace?
All these transformations pave the way for a natural evolution of the workplace to eventually become a digital workplace. Essentially, the digital workplace takes into consideration all the technologies that people use to get work done in today’s workplace. These range from an organization’s finance, HR, and core business applications to email, instant messaging, enterprise social media tools, and virtual meeting tools. An effective digital workplace breaks down communication barriers, transforms the employee experience by fostering efficiency, innovation, and growth. The key to success, however, lies in the effective implementation of a digital workplace strategy capable of driving true cultural change.
An effective digital workplace can resolve the following issues by aiding organizations to:
- Support changes in employees’ working lifestyles that enable them to work effectively
- A unified communication platform to keep employees connected round the clock and provide access to tools and corporate information through their mobile devices anytime, anywhere.
- Enable employees to stay connected in distributed and virtualized work locations.
Why adopt a digital workplace strategy?
A sound digital workplace strategy has historically proved in better talent attraction, increased employee productivity, better employee satisfaction, and improved employee retention. Nowadays, information workers are increasingly preferring newer communication tools, particularly instant messaging, over more traditional ones, such as email or team workspaces.
Given these advantages, more organizations are committing IT budgets to supporting digital workplace strategies that promise to deliver measurable returns. To support such outcomes, organizations need to provide employees with the tools they require to collaborate, communicate, and connect with each other. Organizations need to coordinate your technology groups and investments to avoid the traps of standalone implementations and disparate ownership.
However, at the core of any digital workplace strategy is a scalable digital workforce.
A digital workforce is a team of software robots that can work alongside an organization’s human employees to accomplish tasks and processes that are repetitive in nature, freeing up human resources which can in turn focus on more value-adding tasks.
In the present era, automation is a need-to-have, not a nice-to-have. However, the question is how do organizations go about growing a successful digital workforce using modern technologies?
How to build a digital workforce?
Digital workforce essentially describes a suite of robotic and automated solutions, driving productivity efficiencies at the workplace. Though some of these aforementioned technologies are in their early stages of development, there are quite a few which are already coming to maturity and are undergoing mass adoption by businesses.
In most cases, the digital workforce will not be a physical embodiment of a digital worker. It will rather be a virtual robot (software) running in the background or accessed by consumers and co-workers through a command-based interface.
In today’s digital economy, early movers will always have an advantage, who that have already commenced their automation journey. As workers learn to interact with robots – a relationship that will become mutually beneficial if developed effectively – we will see greater stability and definition of internal governance in the new digital workforce.
For instance, RPA enables the automation of repeatable business processes, eliminating lower complexity tasks currently undertaken by some back office teams. This frees businesses to augment operational activities to optimize the deployment of costly physical workforces in more value-generating tasks. Simple chat bots and RPA follow a set of defined processes and triggers, creating a very reliable solution but limiting the processes that can be automated using this technology.
How to get started?
There are numerous ways to get started with the digital transformation of the entire workplace, especially with automation and robotics. As a starting point, the back-office operations leader can roll it out, or the senior leadership might decide to lead the charge from the front and volunteer their business unit to get started. Another means is to engage with a specialist such as Capgemini to help clients taking formative steps by automating outsourced processes.
- The first step is adopting digital tools that make information more readily accessible across the organization.
- The second is implementing digital self-serve technologies for employees, which help in greater employee augmentation.
- A third step is modifying an organization’s existing standard operating procedures to include upcoming technologies.
Solutions that combine machine learning and natural-language generation have the potential to build a virtual workforce capable of executing more sophisticated tasks, and freeing up resources for more customer-focused operations. These solutions can be deployed only when an organization has the right, digital-savvy leadership, which enforces heavily upon building capabilities for the workforce of the future, empowering employees to work in novel ways. Additionally, organizations will need to invest in and hire for unconventional skills and competencies. Hence, it’s necessary for organizations to develop sound workforce strategies that help in identifying the existing digital skills and capabilities that they currently have – and what all competencies they will need – to meet their future goals and fill the capability gaps.
In subsequent articles, we will see how a clear digital transformation strategy will help in revamping an organizations internal operations and help to reinvent its business model.