by Paige O'Neill

Where is your company on the path to optimizing a collaborative digital workplace?

Jan 18, 2018
Collaboration SoftwareDigital TransformationIT Leadership

Once you identify where exactly you are, you’ll be better able to see your way forward.

business people conference room collaboration boardroom
Credit: Thinkstock

We all know work is changing. New models are emerging. New demands must be met. And collaboration is more vital than ever, even though it is often frustratingly difficult to achieve. When I talk to CIOs, I constantly hear that they need intuitive solutions, ones that can “converge communication.” They want to be able to easily blend these three elements, all of which are now fundamental to any job: technology, the physical workspace and today’s culture. 

But how can you hit that sweet spot? How do you go about creating a digital workplace that truly facilitates collaboration?

After helping scores of companies find the answers to those questions, I can tell you with certainty that, despite what we’d all wish for, there are no easy, one-size-fits-all fixes… and success won’t happen overnight. Your best bet is to start at the beginning, with an honest evaluation of where your company is right now on its collaboration journey.

Perhaps “a digital workplace” is nothing more than a placeholder on your to-do list. Or maybe you have already invested in some digital tools, but aren’t yet seeing the ROI you expected. Whatever the case, once you identify where exactly you are, you’ll be better able to see your way forward.

To help, Prysm has developed what we call the “Technology Maturity Framework.” Look at the list below and think about where your company fits in among these five stages:

1. Reactive

You are at the start of your journey, unsure about how new collaboration technologies could change your workplace. Would they really create a better employee experience? Improve performance? Enhance productivity? (Yes. Yes. And yes.) You have not drafted a mission or strategic plans for a digital workplace.

2. Exploratory

You recognize the need for change and want to start taking advantage of the benefits of a digital workplace, but have not yet established the path forward. You’re wondering how to broach the conversation with management. What’s the best way to demonstrate the financial impact and explain the concrete benefits a digital workplace can provide?

3. Emerging

You are using the digital workplace extensively in short-term IT planning and business strategy; however, most work environments and meeting spaces remain limited by traditional collaboration tools. You are pulling data together to establish a convincing business case so that you can get the budget and go-ahead you need to keep the organization moving forward.

4. Integrated

You understand the need for an enterprise-wide initiative, but remain undecided about investing in a corporate-wide platform. At this point, you are most interested in learning how to best incorporate your existing technology and other ways you can enhance and scale your physical workspace and culture initiatives.

5. Optimizing

You have redefined your workspace, and digital transformation is a key component of your company’s business strategy. You consider yourself a digital workplace, and there is alignment among IT, people and the business as a whole. Best of all, your integrated technology delivers value.

It’s important to note that within this framework, there is no benefit from skipping between stages. For instance, it is not worthwhile to move from Reactive to Emerging without creating a strategic plan, enlisting support and exploring options in the marketplace. In order to maintan forward progress, you will need to be able to demonstrate the financial impact—both in terms of the revenue that’s lost from poor collaboration, as well as the ROI you can reap from a solid solution. Likewise, you can’t just skip over enlisting support. If you involve multiple departments in the selection of new technology, they are more likely to get excited about the idea of becoming a digital workplace and help drive adoption of a comprehensive strategy for the entire enterprise.

I see plenty of companies that seem stuck somewhere between Exploratory, Emerging and Integrated. CIOs tell me that they have given employees the means to work—like a PC and/or mobile device, online messaging tools, online meeting tools, content repositories, physical spaces, etc.—and still, something remains missing. Engagement is lagging, and productivity isn’t where it needs to be.

If that sounds like what’s happening where you are, take a minute to find your company’s place on the Technology Maturity Framework above. You need to remain pragmatic about your collaboration maturity, even as you stay true to the strategic roadmap you’ve developed. Could it be that you inadvertently skipped a step? If you are prepared for the next move forward, what is holding you back? Maybe you’re a bit apprehensive because you’re not quite sure what the next move should be?

Stay tuned! In my next blog post, I’ll explain how you can keep your organization continuing ahead on its collaboration journey.