Thoughts on the next generation of Digital Workplace
The definition of Digital Workplace may vary, but mostly aims to explain the virtual environment which comprises of tools to facilitate people at work, to increase employee engagement and to automate everything thoroughly the organization. Digital Workplace is just a different way to differentiate the computerized environment, but it also contains some significant changes on how people work in a daily basis. Having involved in number of digital workplace adoptions since 2008 with Microsoft SharePoint, I’m now realizing the road map of the maturity of such a so-called “computerized environment” or “digitalized workplace”.
When the definition of Groupware was coined, Lotus Notes became the first commercially available software application that positively improved the ways teams of people worked together in the time of 27 years ago. Groupware is defined with 3’C: Communication, Collaboration & Coordination. They are also main characteristics of a modern collaboration environment, which we love to call a digital workplace.
Over the years, Groupware got fallen into oblivion. It’s perhaps because IBM changes its vision and did not focus seriously on the investment of Lotus Notes. Intranet is the more-expensive term for a computerized environment. In Vietnam, there is a wave (still) of e-Office (electronic office) that still refers to Intranet. It provides a website which presents different type of information of a company inside the corporate network. There are also automated business workflows to simplify the work. Today Intranet is still used commonly even folks don’t know this term is quite old, and what was functioning in a typical intranet is not the same as it’s.
Since someone coined the digital transformation, the digital workplace was born. However, digital workplace sounds like an Intranet. Yes, it does. However, up to the next level of an intranet, a digital workplace does not only have a portal, business workflow but also the ability for people to instantly communicate. Especially, a real digital workplace is an information-centric environment, not only showing typical information such as company announcement, events, new employees but also business data from different external systems, e.g. ERP or LOB. The integration must be seamless without any gap between two systems. For example, if a new employee is added to a Human Resource Management System, his information is supposed to be present in the area of New Employee Welcome in the intranet’s landing page.
But digital workplace is not being stopped. What is the next generation of Digital Workplace? I strongly believe it must be Intelligent Workplace, in which Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning or so on are implemented. Imagine a web-based virtual assistant that helps business users who have no IT background solve computer issues (for example network connection issue…), or guide a new employee what he has to do to complete the on-boarding process. If you pay attention to Microsoft Ignite 2016, you realize that Microsoft is going to transform itself to be an intelligence company. To affirm that, each Microsoft product is going to have AI features. Have a look at Office 365, MyAnalytics recommends you to mostly focus on something to maximize productivity. It’s trying to be your assistant isn’t? As long as a digital workplace has something called “virtual assistant” to reduce human being’s effort, it is an “Intelligent Workplace”.