As I wrote in the first part of this series, I recently received a review copy of Digital Workplace Trends 2013 by Jane McConnell. Jane has conducted the annual surveys since 2006 and published reports every year since 2007. My last post provided an overview and this one dives into some of the detailed findings. The report is over 150 pages long so I will only scratch the surface. You can purchase the report through its web site, www.digital-workplace-trends.com. If you are serious about making the digital workplace happen in your organization, it is a good move to obtain a copy.
The report is organized into eight sections: transformation, mobile, social collaboration, process, experience, investment, change, and finding your direction. Transformation is going to happen and Jane found that most organizations are moving to the digital workplace concept but at different speeds – only 3% believe it does not concern them. I think this transformation will equal the significance of the industrial revolution and the related thinking of Fred Taylor but reverse many of its impacts. Collaboration tools can turn Taylorism on its head so learning goes up and down the enterprise and the whole structure is connected. The large can become nimble, as IBM has found out. Jane found that “early adopters differ from the majority of organizations in that their senior managers play an active role and are often the driving force behind the digital workplace.” Jane offers a number of excellent case examples in this and other sections.
Jane found that 2012 was the year mobile became a strategic priority for the digital workplace with 41% of organizations planning investment next year. The mobile initiatives tend to be focused on the needs of senior executives, those on the road and the field workers. While this makes some sense, I think that everyone is a mobile worker now, even those with a desk. They often use their mobile device rather than their desktop one, even in the office. I imagine that there are few mobile workers without a mobile device. Jane did find that BYOD is widespread in the early adopters, with over 70% permitting or tolerating it. The others are catching up. However, as I mentioned in the last post, the mobile services offered today are limited in scope, with only 20% of organizations providing task-based or collaborative capabilities. The opportunity for value and competitive edge is very high here with these low numbers.
Jane found a wide range of social collaborative capabilities in place, with a high increase in interest in the past 12 months. This corresponds to the work of Nora Barnes at the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts who has also been looking at the business use of social media over the past few years. For example, Nora found that now 92% of the Inc. 500 are using at least one of the social business tools she studied such as blogs, and networks.
Jane found that the transformative capabilities are those with the highest gap between deployment and adoption. These include commenting, user- generated content, crowd-sourcing and social networking. They are disruptive because they challenge traditional roles and hierarchies in organizations. Yet I would add they are exactly the initiatives that will provide the most value. Like all of the sections, the one on social collaboration is full of useful details that I will let you find in the report. This disruption impacts all of the efforts as Jane found that while early adopters have significantly more deployment, they still struggle with adoption. In many cases, even where social networks are deployed, they are not yet actively and broadly used. I do not see this as a shortcoming of the digital workplace, and a call to return to the old ways, but rather a challenge that the winners will overcome.
Let me digress with a story. When my grandfather was a country doctor in Oklahoma before it was a state, he would drive his horse and buggy for hours doing rounds. When he was finished and exhausted, he would throw the reins over and the horses knew the way home. Then he bought the first car in the county. Part of the deal was that the salesman lived on the farm for two weeks teaching him how to run and maintain the new machine. However, he kept falling asleep at the wheel and the car did not know the way home. Fortunately the roads where still related to the old means of transportation and the car would just stall in the wagon runts. He was ready to go back to the horse when he got the idea to teach one of his daughters to drive the car. She cam along and took over when he got tired. We need to figure out how to get along with our new technology, because, like the horse and buggy, the old technologies days are numbered.
This is enough for one post. I will finish my coverage of the selected details in my next post.