Digital Workplace StrategyIn today’s world, your digital workplace may be more important than your physical workplace.  No one would consider moving into a building that is missing walls or that has a cracked foundation.  But we make this mistake in the digital world all the time.

Investing in digital workplace solutions, such as SharePoint, is the easy part of a digital transformation.  In this article, we will look at the 5 components – 4 pillars and a foundation – that make up any digital workplace plan, regardless of the technology.




A Picture of the Digital Workplace

Let’s take a closer look at the 4 pillars of a solid digital transformation plan, as well as the all-important foundation.


Most intranets start as Enterprise Content Management, or ECM solutions. Managing files, or content, is out of control in most organizations. We recently worked with a client that was trying to simplify their document management and found that they had files stored in 17 different repositories. Those include things like user PC's, file shares, cloud-based file sharing (such as Dropbox or, email attachments, apps that allow file storage (such as project management or digital marketing solutions), and good old fashion paper files. Employees have to search across all of those locations to find the latest version of a file.

It's no wonder that Harvard Business Review reports that people spend nearly 20% of their time trying to find the information that they need to get their jobs done! Managing documents, files and other content is a serious problem for most businesses today.


Collaboration might be one of the most over-used words in the digital dictionary.  But it’s tough to find a better word to summarize this important concept. 

In the book, Boundary Spanning Leadership, the authors note that 86% of business leaders have identified collaboration among the most critical areas for business success, but only 7% of those same leaders consider their organizations to be effective at collaboration!

The importance of collaboration digital workplace SharePoint Office365

A digital workplace should make it easier to collaborate regardless of location.  Collaboration, in part, includes enterprise content management, but also includes other important components such as communicating vertically (top-down and bottom-up), formal and informal communication (such as blogs, social and documents), and intranet sites that span traditional corporate boundaries. Corporate news, people profiles, and community sites are all important parts of collaboration.

Clear and timely communication is critical to everything from growing a company, to managing a crisis, to dealing with an unprecedented level of change.  Some common mistakes we see companies make when it comes to digital internal communications:

  • They don’t prioritize it.  These organizations consider their intranet or enterprise social tools to be a place for employees to collaborate, but leadership doesn’t participate.  Or leadership may start to participate, but because they don’t feel they get the desired feedback, they quickly revert back to only using legacy communication tools.
  • They consider it a broadcasting channel.  It’s important for leaders to be able to communicate their message.  But the best leaders are great listeners – and digital workplace tools allow leaders to listen to more employees at a deeper level than ever before.  How many business crises might have been averted if only executives had a coach that taught them how to use digital tools to listen better?


Process automation has been around since the advent of the vacuum tube.  But a solid digital workplace makes it easier than ever not only automate routine processes, but also to speed the process of collaborating on those processes.  No more emailing a spreadsheet around to get updates, or sending a document to a chain of 3 people while each makes their modifications.  We recently worked with a regional financial services provider that automated over 57 processes in their digital workplace – that kind of automation would have never been cost effective before.

One great way we frequently help our clients to automate processes: go on monthly “ride-alongs”.  Spend a day riding-along with one person to experience their workday.  Oftentimes several time saving automations pop out when you take the time to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.

Forms, lists and workflows are usually good targets for automation within SharePoint, Office 365, or other digital workplace tools.


Enabling data scientists to analyze big data, discover new insights, and aid executives in making better decisions is critically important.  In fact, IBM Research has found that the ability to access data, draw insights out of data, and translate those insights into action is one of the most important differentiators between the fastest growing companies, and everyone else.

Big Data in the Digital Workplace SharePoint PowerBI Office365

Roadmap, Governance and Change Management

What would happen if you took someone out of an 18th century farm and dropped them directly into a 21st century city?  They wouldn’t understand automobiles, traffic lights, road markings, verbal cues ... or even finger gestures!  They would almost certainly hurt themselves or someone else.  If they survived, they would probably flee the city to get back to something more comfortable.

This happens in our digital workplaces all the time.

The foundation that the four pillars sit on is a three piece process: a roadmap that sets a clear vision and long-term milestones, a set of governance documents and procedures that spells out the "operators manual" for managing the intranet, and a change management plan and process that drives adoption and compliance with governance procedures.  It’s about the communications and rules that your people need to prepare for, and adjust to, the new ways that they must learn to work together. 

Most of the marketing around digital workplace tools is, “it’s so easy you can just turn it on and let people start using it.”  Unfortunately, that almost always results in a mess. Transforming into a new way of doing things means learning new rules and habits.


Want to schedule an executive briefing or digital transformation workshop?  Contact C5 Insight for more information.