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Already a year before the Coronavirus crisis, Gartner saw a rise in demand for Working From Home arrangements and observed that professionals already work on average one day a week from home.

Nevertheless, when the crisis unfolded, many traditional companies scrambled to quickly set up preliminary remote working arrangements. Often this meant opting for 'right now' solutions like Zoom meetings, or home computers not properly vetted by the organization.

Now that the initial tide has passed, companies like yours may start to look at more long-term "Digital Workplace enabling" software solutions. That means it's hosted in the cloud, encompasses the required features each line-of-business needs and has robust requisitioning features for user account features, i.e. Sharing, SSO, etc.

Much of this process overlaps with what has long been called Digital Transformation, a topic too broad to cover in any one guide. So instead in this guide we cover specific challenges your organization may face in its Digital Workplace transformation.

1. Fix disjointed data

Here's an open industry secret: nobody knows how many application your organization uses. It could be a figure between 50-200, but in some cases it has known to be 500 applications!

Of course each application in itself will serve a certain purpose in the organization, but they're all siloed so miss context to one another. There is guaranteed nobody in the organization that can seamlessly access all their apps in a unified fashion.

In the 1990s the concept of the Intranet appeared to address this by acting as the one central portal through which employees can do anything they need for their workday. Except 90% of Intranets have and continue to fail.

Infographic showing how a digital workplace encompasses much more than a traditional intranet
All applications are encompassed in the Digital Workplace

The reason is that Intranet portals aren't silo busters, they're just their own silo. It may be a big silo including features like Wikis, Social Networks, and many others. But at the end of the day, the entire range of applications in use – from HR portals for PTO requests, to 3D CAD programs for engineers – is not connected to it.

And that is what the Digital Workplace portal changes.

Most application in this day and age have so called APIs, which is a standardized way to exchange data between applications. Digital Workplace makes extensive use of such APIs to connect anything from an Expense management app, over a CRM to a Shiftplanning app all to the same, central architecture that makes all apps searchable and all their data available to construct Cards with for the Assistant.

2. Reduce the number of logins users need to remember

Three quarters of your users struggle to log into their applications, for a number of hard to combat reasons:

Digital Workplace study: 75% of users struggle to log into multiple applications, resulting in 68% of employees delaying tasks that require them to use multiple applications
  • They may struggle to keep apart which app holds what data
  • They don't know their login information
  • Users may lack training in using applications or integrations between applications, resulting in data not appearing where it should
  • Users may not have the correct permission in the right app and thus not see certain data and don't know how to fix it

This actually results in tasks not getting done as fast they should. Or sometimes it can even derail assignments altogether, as Forrester also found that 38% of users are literally unable to access some data at work (not talking from on the go, from right at their desk).

This is where a Digital Assistant can be the core for your Digital Workplace. It connects to all applications via their API (many out-of-the-box) so you have one central interface for users, where they don't need to remember what application precisely held what data or have to login with separate apps (as all authentications are saved in the Assistant).

3. Cut down on the number of apps people need to use daily

Digital workplace facts: 61% of users use 4+ desktop applications daily, with 1 in 10 using 11+ desktop applications daily

Working from home has, if anything, drastically increased the number of apps and windows people need to juggle to get their jobs done. IDC has found that 13% of knowledge workers use over 11 different applications everyday.

Especially, as with working from home schemes common, there is all of a sudden a barrage of unfamiliar new apps that are touted as being "innovative", users run a rampant risk of feeling disengaged. This is due to a phenomenon known as "innovation fatigue" where users feel the word "innovation" is just a cheap cliche but doesn't actually embrace their needs in a holistic way.

But by providing them a central Digital Assistant that's just for them, you're signalling to your users: "Your time is valuable and it's our mission to make your job as effective as possible."

And that shift in paradigm is one reason why Digital Assistant customers see an average of 17% increase in employee engagement after the deployment.

4. Reduce communication overload

Especially when employees are working from home there is a risk they get inundated with too many mails and chats. Gitlab, the world's largest remote employer, has a dedicated page in their handbook that sets out rules under which Slack chat is supposed to be used. (They probably weren't the only company where Slack was actually causing people to feel more overloaded, not less.)

Of course, this isn't unique to just Slack and on the upside many customers find these chats do foster collaboration and help colleagues socialize. But it's also true that they haven't really achieved to "kill email".

And that is something your company should definitely endeavour to do: maybe not outright kill email, but think of ways to filter the amount of unnecessarily distracting messages everybody receives.

Digital Workplace statistic: 36% of an employee's productivity is wasted looking for and aggregating information
A typical workflow with Digital Assistant is more instantaneous and several steps shorter

One such way could be to offload some of those constant notification mails about new tickets, issues, comments, approvals or requests that everybody receives constantly. This can be done with Digital Assistant that automatically collects notifications from connected business apps and delivers them to users. That allows users to reclaim their inbox for more personal communication with their team.

5. Give users some (personal) space

At most offices where employees have set desks, they can give it a little personal touch, like setting up photos or just having their favourite snack at the ready. Most of us also personalize our devices, i.e. by arranging apps on the homescreen or picking a background on our computer.

But if you think about your digital work-self, there really isn't one place where you can personalize your experience. You may be able to set up bookmarks but that's usually about it.

Digital Assistant's board makes it easy to create a personalized dashboard of information from multiple applications
Completely customizable Board that user's can pin whatever Cards to that they want

With Digital Assistant however everybody gets their own Digital "work place" in the literal sense – it's called the Board. And you can pin any Cards that you select, like or find to it and keep an easy overview over all the apps relevant to you.

I hope this gave you some insight into how you can transform your working from home scheme into a more open, and personalized experience for your users.

Do you think Digital Assistant could help your organization get closer to a more digital employee experience? Let us know in the comments below.

Article by: Henry Amm

I’m the Senior Director for the Digital Assistant Platform. Prevously gained 6 years of experience as an Intranet consultant. Fluent in German.

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