Digital workplaces have suppliers and customers – building digital bridges
Much of what I read about digital workplaces seems to make the assumption that if an organisation reaches the upper levels of digital workplace maturity, especially in terms of enterprise social network adoption, then business and employee performance will be transformed. This is what I see as a “sceptred isle” approach to digital workplace strategy. In reality every digital workplace depends on building excellent relationships with suppliers and customers and facilitating the flow of information along the entire supply line. A recent column in Forbes by Rawn Shah sums up the importance of these relationships in just 500 words. The column is entitled ‘Building Bridges Beyond Your Corporate Collaboration Island’ and should be pinned to the desktop of anyone engaged in digital workplace strategy and implementation. The second section of the column considers what IBM are doing with Connections to make building these bridges far less of an IT nightmare.
There are also two related reports from Accenture on this topic. ‘Making Cross-Enterprise Collaboration Work’ was published in 2012. In the opinion of the authors of the report, to drive a new era of growth companies will increasingly be required to collaborate with enterprises outside their corporate boundaries. They go on to say that doing so successfully requires coordinated attention to a range of human capital strategy issues covering talent, leadership, culture and organization. The requirement to work with the entire supply chain is also the topic of a recently released Accenture report on the need to link big data analytics.
Many (though by no means enough) organisations conduct employee engagement surveys, and increasingly use these as one of the metrics in assessing the benefits of digital workplace deployment. I would suggest that these surveys need to be extended to the supply chain to see if the organisation is one that others can do business with. It could be that the organisation is far too focused on building a internal collaborative environment which is very difficult for suppliers and customers to take full advantage of. Certainly a digital workplace strategy needs to identify core suppliers and customers and ensure that there are good channels of communication, and even joint application development, to ensure that cross-enterprise collaboration is as effective as it needs to be.