Many businesses today are experiencing a common problem about how to increase workforce productivity and lower IT costs. The technology infrastructure of business applications driven by siloed departments has become a tangled web that employees find difficult, confusing, and chaotic to sift through, making it harder to do business inside than outside.
This complex infrastructure poses administrative challenges for IT because of separate log-in credentials, interfaces, training, support, and administration. Business applications necessary to automate processes were deployed by functional departments like Sales, HR, IT and others often independent of one another and with no prior planning. Documents and information is spread across departments while news and announcements are disseminated through endless emails that are difficult to find and organize.
This IT infrastructure is what we consider Organic IT - systems and applications that arose naturally as the business grew but resulted in a chaotic array of business applications. As a result, employee productivity is down, IT costs are up, and growth and new business initiatives are neither.
It’s time to step back and look at your IT infrastructure from a different point of view. A lot of industry experts have been talking about and analyzing the impacts of an approach driven by employee access to information, collaboration, internal services and processes that uses a consistent design, user experience, and platform. It’s called a Digital Workplace. And it’s available today, from Microsoft on Office 365.
Siloed Departments Driving a Messy Organic IT Infrastructure
Many businesses expanded with functional departments reporting to an operational executive. Oftentimes the business operates within siloes that are isolated from other departments that set up individual operational applications to manage processes, procedures, and systems.
These operational applications grew organically from each department, expanding outward and driven by back-office requirements. As the business matured, it upgraded and updated with more applications. The problem with this is the lack of scalability across complex functions, such as providing employee services. Also, these applications often do not integrate with front-office applications like email and MS Office that employees use every day.
Now, many businesses are moving to the cloud, which reduces hardware costs but still results in an array of separate business applications. Many businesses continue to add to this organic IT environment every year with new standalone applications.
This model is costly, both in terms of employee productivity, the ability to drive revenue, improve services, leverage new technologies, and the cost of IT to maintain the environment. Specifically:
Every new best-of-breed system (server or cloud) a business brings in compounds the problem. At the end are frustrated employees, little measurement visibility, inability to move ahead with new technologies, and skyrocketing IT costs necessary to maintain many disparate business applications (on servers or in the cloud).
Get Off the Organic IT Addiction With a Digital Workplace
Adding new applications is similar to an addiction. And like all addictions, recovery takes time. It requires businesses and departments to think outside the box but together as a cohesive unit. This is something that cannot be fixed overnight, but it can be addressed overtime. Having solid leadership is essential, as well as education and support of everyone involved. In order to recover, we recommend moving to a Digital Workplace infrastructure. But what is a Digital Workplace?
Now picture this scenario with a Digital Workplace infrastructure in place:
8 am: With a common user experience and within the context of the business and work day, an employee starts work by receiving all the latest news and information and is able to communicate and collaborate cohesively through an Intranet
10 am: From here they can navigate to their department’s operational portal, such as an IT portal, to access their functional applications, team tasks in Planner, or schedule an IT team meeting using Office 365 Groups and Skype for Business
1 pm: The employee is able to review a dashboard that displays IT service metrics
2 pm: They effortlessly access internal services in Employee Central to make a service request to HR, or request time off
3 pm: They access policies through Document Central. Or they might contact another employee from the employee directory using Skype
5 pm: Finally, they quickly and easily access their most recent payroll stub through the MyHR service portal linking to ADP
The point here is that the employee went about the entire work day entirely in a Digital Workplace platform on Office 365. They used an Intranet structure composed of operational portals that fit within the context of the business, integrated with Office 365 Services, and linked to business process systems. All of this was accomplished with a single user sign-on, a common user experience, consistent design across all areas, and accessible on any device. No time was wasted switching between different applications, nor time spent searching for information. And the employee did not have to reference a list of different passwords or quick reference card to use an application.
The business has consolidated 34 separate applications to less than 10 key functional applications used mainly by functional staff and accessible from their Operational Department Portal. As a result, their annual IT administration budget has been cut in half, and they have been able to redistribute 60% of IT staff away from IT administration to more productive endeavors like business analysis activities to expand the Digital Workplace capabilities. Processes are simplified, such as hiring a new employees. Onboarding is reduced from setting up 22 user IDs to two or three for most employees. Executives have access to management dashboards that provide reports across the business.
The business’ “Go Mobile” initiative is now possible because it leverages the Office 365 platform’s mobile capabilities across areas rather than having to figure out 34 applications’ approach to mobile.
The Digital Workplace is not just about moving to the cloud. It’s not just about having an Intranet homepage. The DWP is about changing the model of your IT infrastructure and empowering your workforce through a well-thought-out workplace strategy that leverages a common platform, a portal structure in the context of the business that is integrated with Office 365 tools and your back office. Most important, it’s about transforming the way your business works.
If your business is already using the Office 365 platform then it is ready to start a phased approach to the realization of Digital Workplace benefits. Our goal with this blog series is educate your business on the potential of a Digital Workplace and how you can transition your business to this model to realize the significant benefits associated with it.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Digital Workplace 365 Blog Series where we dive deeper into what a Digital Workplace is, the components of a DWP, and why it is necessary for your business.
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