Last week in Chicago I was honored to chair ALI’s conference on SharePoint for Internal Communication. The lively group of about 70 communicators, IT professionals and professionals in other related fields participated in a session I led about digital workplace. It was an opportunity for them to step back and consider what digital workplace is and what they already have that might help them get to such an integrated view. I promised the group to blog the results.

First, I share with them our definition of digital workplace:

Eloquor’s definition: The virtual space in which employees work, collaborate, innovate and make decisions online. It either is an adjunct to or entirely replaces the brick and mortar work environment many previously experienced. A combination of technologies, including mobile and search, enable work from anywhere, anytime, with anyone.

Second, I asked them what they have in their environment that makes up the employee’s digital experience that isn’t about SharePoint specifically:

– Jabber
– WebEx
– Yammer
– Customer Relationship Management system (e.g., Salesforce)
– File management: Box, Dropbox
– Huddle
– Outlook
– Skype
– IBM Connections
– Learning Management System
– ERP (e.g., Lawson, SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft)
– Survey tools (e.g., Survey Monkey, Marbella)
– Google apps
– Active Directory
– Single sign-on
– Slack
– Timekeeping
– Microsoft Office Suite
– Concur

Third, I asked them about third party tools they are already using with SharePoint that might enable an integrated digital workplace experience. I’ve added a few additional details here to round the list out:

– Analytics (e.g., Google Analytics, Webtrends, intlock)
Metalogix (includes Controlpoint)
BA Insight

This blog post has several additional ideas that didn’t come up in the session, but I gave them the link, so I should share it with you too. There are many, many third party tools.

Fourth, I asked the ALI participants what exists in SharePoint that they can use to create a robust digital workplace. This was interesting because most seemed stuck on what they could leverage, so I’ve added a few items to this list to illustrate how potentially rich the platform can be:

– Search
– Social

– Discussion/activity feeds
– Communities
– Profiles
– Tagging
– Newsfeeds
– Delve
– Yammer (feeds and groups)
– Blogs
– Wiki
-Follow, ratings, favoriting

– Calendar
– Alerts
– Online forms
– Workflow
– Document repository
– Document retention and discovery management
– Content typing
– Presence indicator
– Web-meeting integration (Skype/Lync)
– Lists (e.g., for project management, decision tracking, dashboards, etc.)
– Collaborative editing

Some of these were favorite features of a speaker. Still, most people aren’t yet considering how their organizations can use them in an integrated way. Shows that so much of digital workplace is still conceptual.

Fifth, I asked about mobile. This topic raised more questions than answers. The following questions were raised as being useful to the discovery process:

– Who is really mobile?
– Where are they in the organization?
– What devices are they really using?
– If using tablets, are they using keyboards?
– How do you push to the right device at the right time?
– What do they really need access to on a mobile device?

Two specific issues were raised as needing to be resolved to make mobile work effectively:

  1. iOS compatibility
  2. Security containers and tools (e.g., Airwatch)

Finally, we discussed three key areas to give focused consideration to:

  1. ROI (e.g., time tracking, productivity, cost avoidance/savings, process improvement, email decline)
  2. Launch/evolution (big bang versus incremental improvement, platform migrations, communication and training to drive adoption through demonstration)
  3. Funding (securing support for large initiatives, day-to-day operations and customizations for individual departments; demands a method for sharing new capabilities and functionality to ensure full leverage)

I left them with a charge to go back with their notes and do these three things:

  1. Identify existing barriers to establishing an integrated, robust digital workplace experience for users
  2. Identify the players who can make a difference with their involvement
  3. Plan the steps to get there, whether in a big bang or incrementally

I hope the exercise was useful for attendees. It was intended to get them thinking beyond the intranet to a broader view of what makes up an employee’s digital experience. Perhaps we’ll have a different sort of dialogue in 2017!