Is the ‘Digital Workplace’ different from being a ‘Digital Business’?

In my previous post Digital Business? Heading beyond the hype I wrote how truly digital businesses were offering their customers a world class experience, leveraging the traditional and digital, and doing so using a collaborative, well informed workforce which was both agile and extremely efficient.

There is often confusion around the terms, digital business and digital workplace, the later being a component of the former. To better understand what makes a digital business, it’s helpful to debunk some of the myths…

Being a digital business is about more than:

  • deploying digital workplace technologies
  • absorbing new technologies
  • publishing updates to and having social media channels
  • spending money on digital marketing
  • having an app
  • having a flashy website
  • allowing employees to contribute toward innovation (or having an ideas hub)
  • having employee blogs
  • allowing employees to bring their own devices to work
  • having a set of social media rules
  • deploying your CRM provider’s mobile application
  • allowing employees to setup groups on publicly accessible products such as Yammer.
  • encouraging employees to share and collaborate with co-workers beyond their immediate teams

So if these are not the hallmarks of a digital business, then what are? Well all of the above are certainly often found as part of digital strategies, but what do truly digital businesses do?

Truly digital businesses:

  • offer customers an experience that is focused on building and maintaining relationships
  • offer outstanding customer service
  • have active, passionate customer communities who love the company’s products and actively contribute towards their development and sales
  • use social media channels as valuable interaction opportunities to understand sentiment, frustration and excitement
  • place an extremely high value on data privacy
  • make heavy use of data analytics across their business to make better business decision
  • trust the data to make strategy corrections
  • employ digital listening to understand what customers and the market is saying about their brands and sectors
  • have deployed the digital workplace internally, retired out of date legacy system
  • have heavily integrated work processes into their collaboration space
  • communities are an integral part of doing work and solving problems
  • have a well informed workforce who understand how their contribution contributes to the success of the organisation
  • have open access to leadership who regularly share their thought process, challenges and experience
  • the workforce use these opportunities to feedback and engage
  • treat knowledge management and sharing as an integral part of doing work
  • demand collaboration from employees, rewarding and penalising those who don’t live by these values
  • have a very agile approach to product development and everyone has some level of innovation responsibility within their role
  • have extremely efficient supply chains
  • have a senior executive who’s entire job is to sponsor and drive the initiative and a team with competencies to execute the digital strategy
  • have a network of digital champions
  • executives and high profile employees have social media accounts and are encouraged to speak about their work
  • every employee is a brand ambassador for the company’s products
  • are happy to seek best of breed solutions, even if it means going outside the organisation for answers

So next time you see a so called digital business strategy, look to see what it covers. The reality is that a digital business (and any associated) strategy needs to cover at least three core areas (anything less and it is probably a digital workplace or social business strategy):

  1. inside the organisation (your employees, includes perspective and former employees);
  2. those the organisations interacts with (your suppliers, partners, governments etc.);
  3. those the organisations sells goods or provides services to (your customers, includes perspective customers).

and depending on your organisation:

  1. those with an interest in your organisation (such as the general public)
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