How digital transformation is the journey to a digital workplace

Digital transformation remains a key buzzword in many Australian businesses however pinning down a precise definition of its meaning is tricky. Research from the McKinsey Global Institute indicates that most businesses aren’t operating at their full potential, suggesting a failure to exploit the full value of going digital.

According to M-Files, the term ‘digital workplace’ rather than ‘digital transformation’ is a better way of describing what businesses are trying to achieve. The digital workplace is what organisations are ultimately trying to achieve as a result of the transformation process. The transformation is the journey a business goes on to reach the destination; the digital workplace.

Nicholas Delaveris, alliance and partner director, Australia and New Zealand, M-Files, said, “Organisations are ultimately trying to achieve a digital workplace through the digital transformation process. However, for many the focus has shifted from the goal to the process and it’s important to recalibrate, shifting that focus back.

“In other words, project leaders should continually look toward what the organisation is looking to achieve, then adjust and prioritise the work they’re doing accordingly. If the goal is to reduce the amount of manual, paper-based processes in the organisation, for example, then project leaders should focus on automation tools rather than on upgrading printers throughout the business.”

The definition of a digital workplace will vary from one organisation to the next however the common denominator is that it will involve paperless processes. It should also include increased control over content through version management, access rights, naming conventions, secure sharing capabilities, and improved information transparency such as the ability to integrate unstructured content with data and address repository proliferation.

A digital workplace isn’t just about replacing manual processes with technology-driven solutions. It’s about business priorities and processes, and empowering people to perform. While this will necessarily require the right technologies, those are just the means to an end, which should be to help employees work efficiently and provide the best possible service to customers.

Nicholas Delaveris said, “Companies struggle to fully leverage technologies when they don’t clearly understand what they want to achieve or where to start. Not having a clear vision of the goal makes the idea of going paperless daunting. The risks are often clearer than the benefits. Therefore, decision-makers need to focus on the destination and take an agile approach to getting there and staying there.”

To understand the destination that the business needs to reach, project leaders should ask six key questions:
1. How does the business want to collaborate with business partners and customers?
2. How can the business help staff deal with ever-increasing floods of information?
3. Does the business want to consolidate to a single content repository versus several?
4. If consolidation is desired, is it possible and at what cost?
5. Does the business prefer a cloud, on-premise, or hybrid approach?
6. Should the digital workplace extend to mobile devices?

Starting with the complex details leads to confusion and can be overwhelming. However, with a clear picture of what the end goal will be, along with the various aspects that must be considered and supported, the journey can be more effectively navigated.

Nicholas Delaveris said, “Businesses should avoid getting paralysed by the different paths that reach to the same destination. Instead, they should devote resources to defining the destination, then create a roadmap to get there that breaks each challenge down into manageable chunks. Then, they need to remain flexible along the way so they can take advantage of new and emerging technologies as appropriate.”