The Organisation in the Digital Age

by | May 13, 2015 | Digital workplace, Information Management, Intranets, Reviews

Jane McConnell (NetJMC) has just released The Organisation in the Digital Age, the 2015 edition of her global survey of the way in which digital workplaces are being implemented. A good place to start this review is with a paragraph from the preface to the report. “Every organization has a digital workplace today. Every organisation has digital platforms, tools and services, that are more or less well organized and coordinated. Every organization has work and management practices, different cultures and leadership styles. In all organizations people work together – sharing information, taking part in projects and collaborating. All these elements combine to form the digital workplace: the intersection of people, organisation and technology”.  Absolutely!

It is virtually impossible to review this report in a conventional sense. The analysis is based on replies from over 280 organisations around the world, which as far as I know remains the largest such survey of digital workplace trends. Jane is also in the position of having a wealth of information from surveys carried out over the last decade, and many organisations have participated on a regular basis. The survey outcomes are presented in the 108 figures and tables. This year Jane has commented herself on some of the trends. This is a valuable innovation as in the past the report was faithful to the information from respondents but now there is the added benefit of Jane’s insights based not only on the survey but on her many consulting engagements.

Another innovation this year is the use of a portrait format for the pages, which for me makes it easier to read on a screen, and the graphics quality is even better than in previous years. The opening section looks at the progress achieved over the last year. This is followed by a section that assesses developments through four business scenarios.

  • The learning scenario – how easy is it for people to learn and develop their skills
  • The customer scenario – what is the level of support provided to customer-facing staff
  • The agility scenario – the extent to which the organization can react to major events
  • The knowledge scenario – how can the knowledge of employees be retained when they leave

There are then three chapters looking at some specific aspects of digital workplaces, including the importance of trust, the collaborative and social dimension, and the extent to which organizations need to embrace an open and informed culture. Then comes a chapter on leadership and transformation, which for me is probably the most important single element of the report, as the maturity of a digital workplace is directly related to the extent to which senior managers support the initiative. Finally comes an analysis of the drivers for the adoption of digital workplace principles and practices.

This 130 page report is priced at £360 plus VAT (€490 or $550) and this is a site license so that you can make multiple copies for your colleagues. This is important because the value of this report is significantly enhanced by being shared and discussed, perhaps even page by page and figure by figure. Even if you are currently sceptical about digital workplaces this report will help you decide whether now is the time to think about changing your mind. The report offers no easy solutions, or a list of “10Things To Do To Be Digital”. The advice is embedded throughout the report and put into perspective through Jane’s own comments on many of the issues. My digital library has almost 100 reports and papers on digital workplace development but none come close to emulating the information and wisdom of this report.

Martin White