Simple Steps for Reaching Your Workplace’s Digital Potential

by Colin van Oosterhout

posted on 08-24-2018

The other day, a colleague mentioned that her twin sons had recently left on a school-sponsored bike tour. It’s an off-the-grid team-building exercise, so for most of the day they aren’t allowed any of their usual electronics. Not surprisingly, the boys aren’t pleased about having their gadgets taken from them, and the whole episode got her thinking about the impact of technology on her families’ lives. Not only does the digital connection bring fun and enjoyment to her sons, but it also lets her share their joy when they are able to send messages and images from their trips. The experience can be so immersive that it’s almost as if she’s with the kids when they’re out and about. Digital technologies also enable her to engage fully at home because she doesn’t have to worry about missing an important email, or looking out for the mail to deliver a contract needing a signature.

The same benefits are true for workplaces in the midst of digital transformation. There are opportunities to foster engagement, both internally and externally. Organizations use analytics and automation to personalize customer journeys at scale, while they’re also taking advantage of similar technologies to enhance their own employees’ engagement with their day-to-day work.

It’s no secret that engaged employees are more productive, efficient, and loyal. Organizations with high employee engagement perform more than 200 percent better than those with low engagement, with workers becoming 8 percent more productive, 15 percent less likely to leave, and capable of generating more than twice as much revenue.

But despite these clear benefits, many businesses still struggle to keep their employees engaged. In 2017, fewer than one in seven workers reported feeling engaged with their daily work, citing a lack of clear communication and accessible information as the prime culprits.

As the 2017 Gartner Digital Workplace Technologies report demonstrates, it’s time for digital workplace programs to expand beyond conventional IT services. Here’s a closer look at the report’s findings, along with recommendations on reaching your own workplace’s digital potential.

Unsilo your IT department

Back in the days of conventional IT, services like hardware provisioning, network security, and data storage were handled by one department, which enforced a single set of strict parameters for the organization’s technology policies. Everyone working for the company, from executives to freelancers, had to go through IT’s approval chain, using only the hardware, software, and web services expressly approved by the admins.

In a digital-first workplace, on the other hand, this siloed approach to IT just doesn’t cut it. Data and analytics aren’t one department anymore. They’re handled differently by teams in every area of the business, demanding a radically new approach to technological infrastructure from the strategic planning level on down.

For example, 34 percent of a group of global leaders surveyed in 2014 said they expected a full 50 percent of their employees to be working remotely by 2020. Managers are increasingly overseeing their teams remotely, with 50 percent of managers in the U.S., U.K., and Germany now allowed to work from home — the number is growing across developing countries too. And with millennials demanding flexibility as a core job requirement, we’re only going to see more work being done out of the office. Not only is it nearly impossible to control which hardware and software these remote workers use, it’s often impractical to give them direct access to the office network. Increasingly, organizations are adopting cloud-based collaboration solutions to meet the needs of these workers.

In fact, the 2017 Gartner Digital Workplace Technologies report forecasts that, by 2022, at least 50 percent of organizations will use collaborative document editing as the standard interaction method for document creation — and that these cloud office solutions will not only make it easier for vendors to introduce new functionality, but will also encourage users to change their behavior, collaborating from anywhere in real time.

But flexible IT infrastructure is just one component of employee engagement. To enable your workplace to reach its full digital potential, you’ve got to look beyond IT services and approach your data itself in a qualitatively new way.

Shift focus from teams to individuals

Team collaboration is crucial for any business’s success, but, at the same time, today’s individual workers are more autonomous than ever before, handling workloads that would have taken an entire team’s attention just a decade ago. The key differentiator, of course, is technology, particularly in the areas of data analytics, predictive modeling, and intelligent automation.

This means it’s time to expand the focus from team productivity to also include individual engagement and empowerment. Technology should support not only departments and teams, but also individual workers. The tools these individuals use should streamline their daily tasks, take repetitive work off their hands, and provide them with clear overviews of their work through easily accessible analytics, modeling capabilities, and automation. This can help them to support a team environment and help participate in cross-team successes.

For example, when Lufthansa AirPlus adopted Adobe Sign, the company not only increased efficiency and reduced turnaround time, but it was able to expand its digital transformation across teams, all while staying in compliance with audit trails.

When businesses shift from conventional IT infrastructure to flexible, accessible, collaborative systems, the benefits are measurable: stronger employee engagement resulting in improved efficiency and productivity, and delivering greater revenue over time. In short, empowered workers are effective workers. By providing them with the tools they need, you put your business in position to achieve its full digital potential.

Gartner predicts that, by 2022, information will proactively find more employees more often providing the insight needed to progress decisions and actions, and reducing reactive searching by 20 percent. By that same year, a full 70 percent of organizations leveraging collaborative work management systems will report that their teams are significantly better performing.

Topics: Future of Work, Digital Transformation

Products: Sign, Acrobat, Document Cloud