Communicators’ first priority is to communicate. Their first reaction to collaboration between employees using blogs is to increase the frequency of communications and their prominence on the intranet.
But digital workplaces are used by employees primarily to do things or find information or people, not to read communications. They still do read communications but it is not their main purpose or first priority.
This is a dilemma that communications will need to resolve as they find a new role that continues to add value to the organisation that is more strategic. It is NOT a good approach to seek to own the digital workplace from the view of communications being its main purpose. It isn’t.
While communications still has a key role, increasingly it is human resources, knowledge management and business functions that are largely affected by or have a high influence on how the digital workplace is created that are increasingly involved.
A group of senior representatives who are stakeholders in the digital workplace should form something like a digital board, responsible for strategy, high-level decisions, and priorities for collaboration, communications, tools, and mobile use.
This group should have cross-organisational recognition and support that needs to be seen to be acting in their interests. A clear strategy and prioritised action plan for the short term with owners and timescales will achieve that.
But there still needs to be a leader of the digital board whose authority is accepted. The obvious choice would be the CEO of the organisation. However the reality is the CEO probably won’t have enough time to focus on leading the digital board.
The next best solution is for the CEO to nominate someone or, if not possible, for there to be a senior person who is naturally seen as the ideal candidate by other digital board representatives. The main criteria are someone whose finger is on the pulse of the organisation, is involved and aware of the key decisions being taken, and has the respect of everyone involved.
It is essential to have the right people in place who own the digital workplace strategy and future direction it will take that will benefit both the organisation and everyone working in it.
Am I unfair in my views on internal communications?
Who do you believe are the best people and functions to own the digital workplace?