There are a small number of people in any area of endeavour who become recognised as builders of fundamental frameworks that stand the test of time and become the accepted way of managing complex problems. Notable examples include John Zachman for enterprise information architecture,  Edgar Codd for relational databases and Murray Gell-Mann for elementary particles. Jane McConnell, of NetStrategy/JMC,  deserves to be added to that list for her work on digital workplaces. Jane has just released the latest edition in her eight year series of reports that started out with surveying intranet progress and now provide an unmatched level of analysis into the development of digital workplaces. The change in the title this year to Digital Workplaces in the Connected Organisation is one to take note of. The connections do not just refer to internal networks but making customer and supplier facing connections, something that is often overlooked in discussions about digital workplaces.

Jane suggests 5 minute and 30 minute routes through the analysis of over 300 responses from organisations around the world, but in reality you need to take a team of your senior managers away for at least a two-day retreat to work through the report and its implications for your organisation. This report is not just a survey analysis but a synthesis of the outcomes within what is now a well-grounded framework, Hence my references to Zachman , Codd and Gell-Mann. The three elements of a digital workplace emerge as capabilities (individual, business, enterprise),  enablers (process, structure, reach) and mindset (asset, leadership and culture) and each are explored in detail in the report.

One of the many innovations this year is a self-assessment scorecard, which Jane emphasises is not a benchmarking tool. The idea for this came from the very experienced Advisory Board, the members of which made significant contributions to the content and structure of the report, and as a result the value to organisations of all sizes and in all sectors. Digital workplaces are not restricted to large organisations. I also liked the Digital Workplace Maturity Scale on p173. It may be ‘work in progress’ but it already has considerable value. The 23 case studies are also more extended this year.

This report is impossible to review in the length of space I have on this blog. I can only guess at the amount of effort that went into the text, tables, charts and design. The report runs to almost 200 pages and has an excellent contents page that enables you to dive quickly into any of the ten sections of the report. The single user price is €390 and there are other purchase options. No matter where you are on your digital workplace journey, and even if you have not yet started, this report will provide an agenda for discussion and action over the coming year that could transform your organisation and with it your career.

Martin White