Jul 2021
6
Mins read

Digital Workplace Platforms. What Are They, and What Outcomes Do They Deliver?

Cloud-native Digital Workplace Platforms are becoming essential in the modern workplace. With so many years of having data and operations on disparate systems, apps, devices, and networks, a Digital Workplace Platform brings a unity that makes doing work digitally - well, a breeze. With go-anywhere architecture, powerful integrations, suggestions, employee collaboration features, and data management, they are as pivotal to doing work as your email used to be.

What is a Digital Workplace Platform?

A Digital Workplace Platform is the overarching cloud-based software used within an organization to conduct business operations, designed to be personalised and accessible to all employees, anywhere, on any device. It’s designed to unify typically disparate business operations: instead of having separate places we have to go to for apps, team communication, collaborative projects, sharing information, news, learning materials, and business data, we use the one platform. A digital hub, if you will.

By bringing together business operations and digital tools in one place, we are able to save manual time and effort, present employees with a cohesive digital experience, plus learn undiscovered insights from unifying our data - and act on them.

An effective DWP enables more “collaborative, agile, mobile, analytical, innovative and creative ways of working.” and is a crucial component in any successful digital transformation program. - A Digital Workplace Is Crucial to Digital Transformation, Gartner, 2019.

What are the top features in a digital workplace platform?

In Designs for the Digital Workplace, a conference paper by Susan P. Williams and Petra Schubert for CENTERIS - International Conference on ENTERprise Information Systems, they outline three key areas that successful DWP implementations always cover.

Organizational strategy and design

The digital workplace strategies must be managed to align with current and business goals. The platform itself needs to be something that can grow as both the company and technology evolves.

  • Provides a coordinated strategy for DWP
  • Designs are planned and managed
  • Designs specific to corporate culture needs
  • Strategy is agile, evolving and future-oriented
  • Compliant with e.g. workplace and information laws

People and work

Communication and collaboration must be natural, intuitive, and aided by intelligent software suggestions.

  • Supports information and knowledge work
  • Contains all tools required for employees to be productive
  • Supports employee engagement, collaboration & information sharing
  • Predictive and intelligent support of work practices

Technology platform

The technology itself must be easy to use, personalized, and go anywhere, even outside the bounds of the business itself.

  • Internally integrated platform: holistic set of tools
  • Externally integrated platform: integrated with other business systems
  • Coherent and usable
  • Supports consumer-oriented styles and technologies
  • Adaptive and tailorable to users’ needs
  • Location independent

What’s the difference between a Digital Workplace Platform and an Intranet?

A corporate intranet is described in Finding ROI, 2003. 

“A private network, similar to the Internet and using the same protocols and technology, that is contained within an enterprise. It may consist of many inter-linked local area networks (LANs), desktop computers, websites and portals, and email system(s).”

Similarly, a corporate portal is described:

“A primary website on the enterprise intranet. A web-based gateway to most, if not all, tools and information on the enterprise intranet. The portal can be a ‘catch all’ for all of the intranet, or a business unit or function specific portal (i.e. Sales or HR portal).”

While a digital workplace platform might look quite similar on paper to the combination of these two technologies, there are a few key differentiators. 

Key differentiators

  • A DWP is cloud-native, so the networking technology is different. This allows the platform to be accessible from anywhere, even if internal networks go down. 
  • A DWP is available on mobile and tablets, with the interface adjusted for the smaller size so that employees can continue to work easily. 
  • A DWP exchanges data with third-party software for ease of work, rather than just houses that software.

A Digital Workplace Platform is like modern intranets, but with far more functionality, and built to integrate expertly with third-party applications, external parties, and advanced document management systems. Whereas Intranets are insular to the company and include employee self-service across corporate information, internal communication tools, and HR systems, DWPs employ a wide range of techniques to be interoperable with external data sources. This may include things such as collaboration on MS Office files, working with Salesforce data without touching Salesforce itself, and sending out emails with Hubspot all from the platform.

What are the benefits of an effective Digital Workplace Platform?

Increased productivity

By co-locating functionality, having cohesive interfaces, intuitive workflows and intelligent auto-suggestions, employees are not only empowered, but able to work smoothly without technology getting in the way. This proves to increase productivity and innovation.

Decreased learning curve 

It’s natural for people to become familiar with (and very comfy in) one suite of software - think MS Office, Google products, or Apple. Learning multiple different products, such as Slack, Asana, and Jira can be laborious on employees, even if the products themselves are great. By bringing in the functionality of outside services into a known environment, employees are likely to feel more at home. When new services are added, there is still that familiar feel, so there is a lot lower learning curve.

Increased employee satisfaction

Rather than being frustrated by software that isn’t as modern or intuitive as their Facebook or Instagram feed, it feels more like these sort of apps. Instead of being hindered by technology, employees are enabled by it. This increases employee engagement, and results in a more positive employee experience.

Increased level of workplace flexibility

Because of the go-anywhere nature of a DWP, employees are able to work from anywhere - you now have the option of going fully or partially remote. Employees are able to access the DWP from work or their own devices.

Connect to company values

A well-shaped DWP will help employees connect to company values through their digital experiences. Given that people are now becoming more focused on choosing to work with companies where they resonate more with the internal values, this is an important benefit.

Companies with a DWP were able to expertly navigate working conditions over Covid

For companies who had already implemented a successful DWP, they were already set up to allow their employees to work from home over Covid. While many were left scrambling, stitching together VPNs, access, security policies, Zoom, and sending out devices, those with a DWP simply said “do you have a computer you can use?”

Now that companies have found they can go almost fully remote, it’s given the decision-makers a lot to think about. With 72% of people wanting a mix of remote and in-person working, according to PwC’s Hopes and Fears 2021 report, combined with the high cost of employee turnover, it would be an oversight not to.

How can remote teams benefit from a Digital Workplace Platform?

Remote teams are certainly the biggest beneficiaries of a successful digital workplace platform. With everything cohesive and in the one spot, even non-tech savvy employees are able to work remotely with ease. In the past, these options were only really open to people who knew their way around a computer well. Now, even your 72 year old temp can manage it. Accessing information has ever been easier.

CentricMinds Digital Workplace Platform

CentricMinds offers a single platform that connects people to work and to each other. It provides full digital coverage across an employee’s tenure, from onboarding, to engaging with and helping build an internal online community, communications, and enterprise software access complete with collaboration tools.  

It’s a platform for organizing knowledge, storing information and communication

The CentricMinds platform allows seamless sharing of information, including files, internal communications, and real time discussions. Instantly you’re able to start an open or private discussion with one or many teammates. Users can like and comment on posts, add Team or Project pages. It’s designed around enhancing collaboration, for remote teams, in office teams or blended work environments and has an app for both Android and iPhone. Productivity tools within the ecosystem include forms and tasks to automate workflows.

Get started with CentricMinds

If you would like to get to know more about CentricMinds, then please reach out for a demo so you can see just what it could do for your company’s digital strategy.