I read with interest Jane McConnell’s blog posts on governance in the digital workplace. Jane’s Digital Workplace Trends 2012 survey showed how a strategic decision-making body can increase the chances of creating an effective digital workplace.
Now, before I go any further I have a confession to make. I was the BT Intranet manager for nine years. During that time I helped transform BT’s intranet into one benchmarked independently and accepted as one of the best globally. I also was heavily involved in developing the wider digital workplace which I define as ‘work is what you do, not where you go to’ to support BT’s ambitions.
My intranet role was in Group Communications as part of a team focused on intranet, internet, web publishing, design and development. Being in Group Communications felt naturally the best place to be to improve the intranet. It was seen by other parts of the business as right too and our authority was accepted and not challenged for managing information online and to work directly with our IT partners on business needs.
However as more tools were used for online processes and activities – room bookings, training, performance management – so the difficulties of managing these became more apparent. To brand these tools with a BT mark was very involved and conflicted with an ‘out of the box’ and ‘no customising’ approaches taken by IT.
Combine that with a defensive reaction to introducing wikis to share knowledge, podcasts to show and tell how to do things and most importantly blogs which made every employee potentially a communicator across the BT and you can see the landscape is changing for communicators.
I believe despite the success of the previous years where most successful intranets have been managed by communications that it is time to think differently as digital workplaces expand that role and function.
The digital workplace is more than a news channel or document store. It can become the natural way of working so everyone is more productive and your organisation more efficient with:
- People working from any location as well as their normal place of work
- Everyone able to collaborate, search and complete tasks
- Individuals choosing tools – RSS, mobile, etc. – that help them
- IT infrastructure giving the same or similar experience
- Physical workplaces to meet future needs and ways of working
- Organisations measuring benefits and encouraging the digital workplace
This expands the role beyond information management traditionally championed by communicators who own the intranet. It also needs more than one person and it needs people who represent other key functions within the organisation.
Who do you think should own the digital workplace?