Volume 15 • Issue 1 • January-March 2019
Copyright © 2019, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
Mohsen Attaran, School of Business and Public Administration, California State University, Bakerseld, USA
Sharmin Attaran, Bryant University, Smitheld, USA
Diane Kirkland, Marketing Department, School of Business and Public Administration, California State University,
Advances in communications, combined with lifestyle trends, point to a future workforce that is more
productive and more capable than ever before. Employees are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with
workplace capabilities as communications and productivity technology advances. Employees feel that
their workplace is not smart enough and they are ready for a workplace that can accommodate their
changing lifestyles. The past few years have seen an explosion in the use of smart workplace technologies.
Interest in exploiting digital workplaces and smart offices is increasing, and deployments are gaining
momentum. Yet the adoption rate is slow, and organizations are only beginning to scratch the surface
in regard to the potential applications of smart workplace technologies. Implemented properly, the
business benefits of digital workplaces can be substantial. This article explores the changing dimensions
of the workplace. It highlights the importance of smart workplace technologies, identifies determinants
of implementation success, and covers some of the potential benefits. Finally, this study reviews the
successful implementation of smart workplace technologies in a small service industry.
Cloud Computing Technology (CCT), Digital Workplace, Digital Workplace Solutions (DWS), Information
Work, Mobile Working, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
There is no particular research stream on the digital workplace although scholars have conducted much
research on the related topics. The purpose of this research is to do a systematic literature review and
explore the practical implications of digital workplace technologies.
The traditional office is transforming and will become obsolete in the near future. Digital workplace
technologies, as portrayed in the sparse academic literature, as well as the wider trade literature, are
Volume 15 • Issue 1 • January-March 2019
found to be able to reshape and decentralize the traditional office. Effectively planned and implemented,
the digital workplace provides more effective ways of working, increases productivity, and raises
employee engagement. The digital revolution is under way however, our research suggests many
companies remain confused about what they need to do to realize these benefits. We found compelling
business results, including increased productivity and revenue growth, realized by organizations that
have adopted digital tools. We also found that most organizations are unprepared for the arrival of
digital workplace. Companies that are not adopting an integrated approach and training employees
with new skills, are failing to capitalize on a significant opportunities digital workplace could deliver.
Although the journey to digital workplace has already started, very few examples of the business
benefits of a truly digital workplace realized by leading-edge companies are reported, and therefore
effects are often anecdotal and notably, are often not fully tested. In our literature search we found
few papers published in peer reviewed academic journals nor as academic working papers exploring
advantages and limitations of firms implementing workplace digital technologies. We urge future
research to test the enabling and constraining effects of digital tools and search for more empirical
evidence of successful implementations of digital workplace in varied organizations. Research is
needed to also recognize the downsides of digital technology usage for close relationships and
A dramatically changing workplace or a true digital workplace is at its very early stages of adoption.
There is a widespread confusion in the marketplace about the true definition of a digital workplace.
A good number of businesses incorrectly believe that email and social media capabilities are the
requisite tools required for a digital workplace. A recent commissioned research found that only 44
percent of companies thus far have adopted digital workplace tools. Based on the business applications
presented in this paper, practitioners would be wise to choose to better understand the potential enabling
and constraining effects of implementing digital workplace technologies in different organizations.
Implementing a digital suite of tools, communications technologies, and enterprise social networks
are by no means a panacea for many organizations. This article presents an important early academic
contribution to a field dominated by narratives and of promises made by consultants. It also delivers
condensed information for practitioners regarding the adoption of an integrated approach for the
design and the implementation of digital workplace.
The 20th century has seen a massive increase in industrial productivity, including a fifty-fold
productivity growth in manual labor. But in most organizations, workplace productivity has not
improved in such a fast pace. Fifty years ago, Peter Drucker said that “knowledge work” is the most
important aspect of work in the advanced economy (Drucker, 1968). The world has changed drastically
since then and the amount of digitized data is increasing at an exponential rate. Additionally, in the
past ten years, office work has been shifting from repetitive tasks to knowledge based, flexible, and
adaptive tasks. It has been proven that employees waste significantly less time and company resources
when they have access to the right information at the right time, and by working in accordance with
The 20th century has seen a massive increase in industrial productivity, including a fifty-fold
productivity growth in manual labor (Drucker, 1999). But in most organizations, workplace
productivity has not improved at such a fast pace. Fifty years ago, Peter Drucker said that
“knowledge work” is the most important aspect of work in the advanced economy (Drucker,
1968). The world has changed drastically since then and the amount of digitized data is
increasing at an exponential rate. Additionally, in the past ten years, office work has been
shifting from repetitive tasks to knowledge based, flexible, and adaptive tasks. It has been proven
that employees waste significantly less time and company resources when they have access to
the right information at the right time, and by working in accordance with productive work
practices (Igloo, 2017). Therefore, increases in information related productivity needs to be the
focus of modern organizations, as much as industry automation used to be in past decades.
“Information Mastery” is considered the Industry Automation of the 21st Century. Infocentric
Research highlights the differences which characterize organizations and work within the
industrial and information age (Schillerwein, 2011) (Figure 1).
Companies are realizing the importance of workplace transformation which reflects modern
work styles, user preferences and maturing technologies. A large portion of work today is
“Information Work”—work that requires information to be executed, and in which information
often determines the outcome of the work (The Work Foundation, 2009). Many enterprises do
not consider information as an organizational resource and therefore do not manage it as such. It
is erroneously assumed that information is managed automatically through technology. This mis-
treatment of information oftentimes has immense effects on employee productivity, efficiency,
effectiveness and profitability.
On the other hand, the proper treatment of information as an important organizational resource is
key in gaining a competitive advantage in a globalized economy. According to widespread
research, quality and productivity are affected by employees not having access to the right
information, such as where, when, and which information is required for the respective tasks
(Igloo, 2017). A meta-analysis of 9 studies on wasted employee time found that an average of
1.1 hours per day was lost on unproductive information searches. This is a tremendous waste of
Figure -1 – Industrial Age VS Digital Age
time and productivity, considering that 1.1 hours per day is more than 12 percent of total work
time summing up to more than 30 work days per year per person (Schillerwein, 2011). In a study
conducted by IDC and commissioned by the Information Overload Research Group, significant
numbers of employees indicated that (Gantz, Boyd, and Dowling, 2009):
1. less than half of the information they need is searchable
2. searching is time consuming and frustrating, and
3. searches for internal information are not successful most of the time.
This study also found that employees waste 25 percent of their time dealing with information
overload related interruptions and distractions. Reducing the time wasted by 15% could save a
company with 500 employees more than $2 million a year. According to this study, a large
percentage of managers and business leaders are also affected by information overload. They do
not have sufficient information across their organization to do their jobs. Over 40 percent of
surveyed managers said they use incorrect information at least weekly and had the information
they needed less than 75% of the time (Gantz, Boyd, and Dowling, 2009). A mature digital
workplace has the potential to revolutionize the way information is treated in the organization
and the way work gets done.
Today’s workplaces characteristics are also changing. A recent study conducted 3801 online
interviews of adults who work more than 35 hours a week across nine different markets. The
report analyzed adults who work in one of seven target industries: Education, Government,
Financial Services, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Media & Entertainment, and Retail (Berland,
2016). The report found that the global workforce is at a tipping point. 44 percent of employees
worldwide feel that their workspace is not smart enough, while more than half expect to be
working in a smart office within the next five years. This study also revealed that half of global
employees currently work remotely at least a few times a week. 50 to 60 percent of the time,
employees of Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are not at their desks. More than 30
percent said that the biggest time-wasters at their jobs were tech-related (slow, glitch software or
devices) and that the technology they had available in their homes was more cutting-edge than
what was available at their place of work (Berland, 2016). Additionally, a study by Wainhouse
Research revealed that the vast majority of meeting rooms have little or no teleconferencing and
collaboration technologies in place and that 34 percent of office meetings start late because of
technical difficulty (Haskins and Nilssen, 2015). A 2011 study by Price Waterhouse Coopers,
identified that by 2020, Millennials (22-37 years old) and Generation X (38-53 years old) will be
50 percent of the global workforce by 2020 and are reshaping the workplace (Price Waterhouse
Coopers, 2011). Millennials are more willing to embrace workplace technology and are more
likely to quit a job with substandard workplace technology (Berland, 2016). These changes in
technology and workforce require a workplace that boosts competitiveness, collaboration, and
agility, and that also reduces the cost of both IT and business operations.
Today’s workplace should provide employees with consistent, consumer-like user experience,
one that is wholly aligned with the way people work today. Business leaders expect their digital
workplace solutions (DWS) to raise employee engagement, enable employees to achieve
business outcomes faster, and empower employees to reduce cost and increase efficiency. These
leaders desire a robust IT service that is aligned with the way people work today, regardless of
platform and location. Employees now expect a digitally-driven work experience that is personal,
Figure -2 - The Rise of Digital Workplace
real-time, mobile-enabled, collaborative, and that exploits consumer oriented styles and
II-DFINITION AND EVOLUTION OF DIGITAL WORKPLACE
Over years, the workplace has evolved from referring to a physical space including offices,
meeting rooms, and desk phones, to being focused on always connected environment with
instant access to what employees need to work. Many office documents and projects have gone
online. Instant messaging has become a popular communication choice within office
communities and email is heavily used mode of correspondence. Figure 2 highlights the
evolution of the digital workplace.
Industry and academia define a digital workplace in several different ways. In the simplest terms,
digital workplace solutions (DWS) create connections and remove barriers between people,
information, and processes as shown in Figure 3. When the barriers are broken, workers do their
jobs more effectively and efficiently, and make the business more agile and competitive (Igloo,
Figure -3 – Breaking-Down Barriers and Creating Connections
The term “Digital Workplace” was coined by Charles Grantham and Larry Nichols in 1993
(Perks, 2015). Digital workplace is defined as collection of all the digital tools in an organization
that allow employees to do their jobs. Those tools include intranet, communication tools, email,
CRM, ERP, HR system, calendar and other enterprise processes or tools which assist in the
general day-to-day functioning of a business (Perks, 2015). Getting digital workplace
transformation right is vital for sustainable business success in a new digital first, consumer-
centric business world. The digital workplace affects physical workplaces, technology, and
people. Changes made in one area may result in changes in another.
Intel defines technology, agile workplace, and collaboration as pillars of a digital workplace
(Constant, 2017). Another study by Infocentric Research, identified a framework for the digital
workplace that includes three building blocks: personal performance, team performance, and
organizational performance as described in Figure 4 (Schillerwein, 2011). These building blocks
provide all of the information and function relevant to a person, team, or organization. They
serve as a depository of all personal and team or project tasks combined, thereby enabling the
ability to watch what is currently happening in all of the projects and activities. These building.
Figure -4 – A Framework for the Digital Workplace
blocks do not exist in isolation from each other within the digital workplace. They blend into
each other based on respective tasks and situations. They serve as a logical framework for
creating the strategy and also concept design of the digital workplace.The digital workplace
encompasses all the information, technologies, collaboration tools, and processes workers use to
get work done on any device, anytime, and from anywhere. The digital workplace should be built
on a consistent and flexible infrastructure needed to access and secure information across
multiple devices, and channels. It should integrate video, and messaging to make life easier and
make knowledge sharing more effective for all workers. Lastly, the platform should provide a
secure access to the information needed on any device. Challenges the organization may face in
the areas of governance, risk and compliance need to be resolved. Figure 5 highlights different
layers of the digital workplace framework as described above.
The popularity of digital workplaces has soared in recent years. This accelerated change can be
attributed to the emergence of three fundamental trends (Deloitte, 2014):
Figure -5 – Layers of the Digital Workplace
1. Information overload: Information is growing at exponential rates. Businesses are
struggling to find, filter and forward information to the right workers at the right time. For
example, declining customer satisfaction resulting from an inability of customer service
agents to access the requisite information to solve their challenge is very high. In a survey
conducted by IDC and sponsored by Xerox, 40 percent of those surveyed said they had the
information they needed less than 75 percentof the time (Gantz , Boyd and Dowling, 2019).
A survey conducted by Omega Management Group Corp. and Coveo found out that 70
percent of customer service agents are facing signiﬁcant challenges as a result of not being
able to ﬁnd necessary customer information. 73 percent of respondents identified improving
information access and quality along with knowledge management as areas they are investing
to improve customer care (Omega Management Group Corp. and Coveo, 2011).
2. The Need for speed: Today’s work environment moves at a much quicker pace than it used
to. Employees are required to work faster, collaborate more effectively, and work more
efficiently to meet deadlines and to successfully do their jobs.
3. Workforce Demographics: Businesses struggle to meet the varying needs of a multi-
generational workforce. Knowledge is leaving the company as the baby boomers retire.
Millennial workers are IT savvy and expect to have flexible working hours and easy to use
III – ADVANTAGES OF DIGITAL WORKPLACE
The digital workplace is widely acknowledged for optimizing workers’ productivity. While there
are few research streams on the digital workplace, scholars have conducted intensive research on
its advantages, such as collaboration, compliance, mobility, reduced stress, and overload
(Koeffer, 2015; Haas, Criscuolo, and George, 2015; Perlow, 2012; Przybylski, Weinstein, 2013;
Reyt and Wiesenfeld, 2015; Sykes, 2011; Turkle, 2015; Mazmanian, Orlikowski, & Yates,
2013; Aaltonen et al, 2012).
One of the major advantages of DWS is reduction of waste in the organization. There are plenty
of distractions and time wasters that take workers away from the task at hand. DWS breaks down
barriers between people, information, and processes, thereby enabling workers to do their jobs
more efficiently and effectively. According to IDC, top time wasters at work are (Schubmehl,
1. Ineffective Meetings – Meetings are costly. On average, a single employee attends 62
meetings per month and spends over 30 hours a week in meetings. According to a research
study, 30-50 percent of time in meetings is considered wasted. Also the majority of meeting
attendees admit to daydreaming during meetings, while over one-third have dozed. This cost
companies on average $9000.00 per employee per year (Infocom, 2018).
2. Managing eMail- A typical office worker spends almost 7 hours per week reading, replying,
and sorting through emails. 33 percent of this time is spent on time-wasting tasks such as
reading “Reply all” and trying to locate the email. IDC estimates that on average, the cost per
employee is $8,000.00 per year (Schubmehl, 2014).
Figure -6 –Average Annual Costs per Employee for Top Time Wasters
3. Searching for People and Information – People and information search are costly for
companies. Workers spend 2.5 hours per week searching for people and information that are
scattered throughout the organization. The annual cost is on average $7,000 per employee per
year (Schubmehl, 2014).
4. Re-Creating Work - A typical office worker spends almost 2.5 hours a day duplicating
work that has already been done. This costs companies on average $5,000 per employee per
year (Schubmehl, 2014).
Figure 6 highlights annual costs of the most costly time-wasters at work. Effectively planned,
communicated, and implemented, digital workplaces reduce costs and delivers compelling
benefits. Integrating workplace technologies like mobile, cloud, analytics and social tools into
workplace will empower employees to work faster and communicate more easily – at anytime,
anywhere. In 2015, Wakefield Research surveyed 500 global C-level executives and IT
decision-makers across seven countries regarding the advantages of a truly digital workplace.
The results were clear and compelling: reduced costs, improved productivity, increased
innovation, revenue growth, and employee engagement (Avanade, 2017). The digital workplace
addresses existing challenges and provides measurable business value. For example, one
company saved 43 minutes each month per manager with improved DWS. The company
estimated an annual saving of $12 million (Deloitte, 2014). A 2011 New Ways of Working
survey, which included more than 100 Fortune 500 respondents, found that between 2008 and
2011, alternative workplace programs resulted in improved employee productivity, increased
business agility, increased employee attraction/retention , improved collaboration, faster access
to customers/co-workers, and business continuity (Miller, 2012).
Additionally, a survey of HR professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management
showed that the majority of respondents thought that flexible work arrangements and digital
workplaces had a positive impact on absenteeism including fewer minor health problems, fewer
signs of depression, fewer sleep problems, and reduced stress levels (Miller, 2012).
Improved productivity of employees is perceived as the main benefit of the digital workplace.
According to several recent studies, a digital workplace in a modern enterprise provides many
advantages for employees and business including increased staff satisfaction, improved
employee experience, closer collaboration, reduced operational costs, enhanced innovation,
improved customer experience, and increased revenue. Figure 7 summarizes benefits gained by
employees and organizations (Gantz, Boyd, and Dowling,2009; Schillerwein, 2011; Miller,
2012; Deloitte, 2014; Miller and March, 2016).
IV – IMPLEMENTATION CHALLENGES AND OBSTACLES
Most existing information management systems deliver only limited value to their organizations.
These systems are products of many years of organic growth and change. They often create as
many new problems as they solve existing ones. These systems largely exist in isolation from
each other. They are mostly static and passive, dated and primitive, and they set an expectation
with employees that the organization need not be efficient. An effective digital workplace cannot
be merely a combination of existing tools. The workplace must be enhanced by context,
structured and unstructured information, and consistent coverage of information flows. In
addition, the lack of a clear distinction between tools and business needs can also make an
information management system ineffective. Without a proper business case, business need, and
goal, technology delivers only limited value. An on-going employee education on the proper
Figure -7–Benefits of Digital Workplace Solutions
usage of workplace technology is a necessary foundation for productivity and quality
There are numerous challenges in applying DWS for businesses in a way that allows for its
significant and rapid growth. For example, the 2017 state of the cloud survey conducted by
Rightscale identified the following as the most important challenges facing businesses
Lack of sufficient internal resources (lack of training/expertise).
Lack of time to implement new initiatives.
Difficulty of managing costs (governance and control).
Security concerns (service traffic hijacking – phishing, buffer overflow attacks, and loss
A recent study by Forester Research identified several reasons for lack of effective employee use
of DWS (Forrester Research, 2017). Among them:
Struggling to log onto multiple apps
Inability to access data and apps inside and outside of the office
Requiring help to access data
Two separate recent studies conducted by Altimeter Group, and Adobe, surveyed enterprises
regarding status of their digital workplace and mobile apps usage and found that (Solis and
Littleton, 2017, Adobe, 2016):
Two-thirds of employees rarely use their enterprise mobile apps.
Two-thirds of large enterprises have no plan to develop their own apps.
Three-quarters of companies surveyed did not have a “clear” understanding of digital
Two thirds of executives surveyed thought their organization needs to pick up the pace
in making the digital workplace a reality.
V–MAKING THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE A REALITY
Intel defines three pillars to making the digital workplace a reality as shown in Figure 8
(Constant, 2017). The following section describes theses pillars in detail:
A. Physical Workplace Transformation – Agile Workspace
The Digital Workplace is about changing the physical workplace and empowering the workforce
through a well-thought-out workplace strategy that leverages a common platform that is
integrated with front and back office tools. Traditional offices are expensive, inefficient,
inflexible and difficult to scale and modify. The digital workplaces should stand up to certain
criteria as discussed in detail below:
1. Digital Environments - Work is shifting from the physical to the digital workplace resulting
in reduced office size. Office configuration is also changing, and its role in the workplace is
being adapted. The nature of work has changed and primary office space is unoccupied
Figure -8 – Pillars of a Digital Workplace
nearly one-third of the time. The Telework Research Network estimates the average business
could save $2,500 to $5,000 a year in real estate and related costs for each half-time
teleworker (Miller, 2012). According to Miller, digital environments, whether they are
repurposed offices, home offices, co-working or “third places” should stand up to certain
criteria. Among the criteria are the quality of digital environments, the ease of intuitive
accessibility, the ease of portability, the ability to operate consistently across the
organization, in one region or globally, how secure they are, and the ability to enable
working beyond corporate borders (Miller, 2012). Physical workplaces and buildings play
important roles in providing more flexible work and facilities, more open and shared spaces,
and more collaboration and interaction. Workspaces should be designed around activities.
Each agile workplace should have special “zones” connecting individuals and offering easier
collaboration. At the same time, agile workplace should also provide a more relaxing and
informal environment. An effective workspace design should provide more mobility and
office dispersion, less paper and less storage, more attractive facilities, and increased
utilization of available space (Constant, 2016).
2. Distributed Workspaces - Because of mobile technologies, knowledge workers are often
absent from the office and spend their working time on the road or at customer or client
locations (Bosch-Sijtsema et al. 2010). The workplace is seen as a place of interaction,
collaboration, knowledge transfer, and communication (Harrison et al. 2004). A workplace is
no longer only the physical office space, but rather a combination of physical, virtual, social,
and mental spaces, which are interlinked with each other to form a collaborative working
environment (Vartiainen 2009) (see Figure 9). The physical space is the environment where
work is conducted, such as the main workplace, home, or the premises of customers and
partners. The virtual space is an electronic working environment such as the Internet which
provides a platform that can be used for collaboration in a distributed workplace. Examples
are e-mail, and more complex collaboration tools such as video conferencing. (Vartiainen et
al. 2007). The social space is the whole social network of team members, managers and
customers. The mental space refers to thoughts, beliefs, ideas and mental states that
employees share through communication and collaboration. The work environment should be
understood as an entity comprising all the previously described spaces. The challenge of
digital organizations is how to make these four spaces support the knowledge workers' tasks
in a distributed work setting. There is no one rule to follow. Organizations should start the
process by analyzing the work of knowledge workers (Ruostela, and Lönnqvis, 2013).
B. Digital Technology Solutions
Having the right technology in place is critical. To support uninterrupted collaboration, the agile
workplace requires a carefully designed IT infrastructure. The cross-functional delivery team
should fix system constraints and upgrade the organization’s network infrastructure to include
the entire backbone and every switch, router, and firewall. The objective should be to shift to
open workspaces, accessible meeting rooms, and modern devices. This shift should include
installation of operating systems that allow for increased productivity and for the attraction of
new talent. Each employee should be provided with upgraded tools, including a universal laptop,
collaboration tools including video-conferencing, and voice-over-internet phones (VOIP) that
ride on the network without constraint. The installation of a low cost, open, easy to use hardware
Figure -9 – Distributed Workspaces
and software and collaboration solution that can be easily upgraded and expanded over time is
highly recommended. The tools needed to support the digital workplace needs will vary,
depending on business and job functions. These tools need to be implemented not in silos but in
an environment that benefit a holistic digital workplace strategy. A summary of suggested tools
divided into different categories are shown in Table 1.
It is suggested that four technologies of cloud computing, big data, mobile and search-based
applications should be integrated to achieve a digital workplace (White, 2012). The following
sections describe these technologies in more detail:
1. Cloud Computing - Technologies like cloud computing and business intelligence have
evolved rapidly and companies are using them to fully reap the benefits of the information
age. According to a 2017 Gartner report, Cloud Computing Technology (CCT) is perhaps the
most promising and anticipated technology to come around in a number of years (Gartner,
2017). For some businesses, making a connected move toward a cloud structure significantly
cut hardware costs. For others, CCT will streamline operations and speed up development
cycles. Properly planned and implemented, (CCT) has the potential to drastically improve
operational efficiency in three types of performances: personal, team, and organizational.
The Software as a Service (SaaS) model of CCT offers applications over a network
Table 1- Digital Workplace Solutions for Managing Various Business Activities
Digital Workplace Solutions
access to online
Accounting & Payroll
and fast way to
Portals and Intranet
Voice over IP (VOIP)
Reduces time and
increase efficiency of
Employee time tracking
Survey and campaign monitoring
access to tools away
from the office
Mobile and smart phone
Laptop and tablet
(Internet), and is accessible via browser or program interface. Since applications are delivered
via on-demand software, they can be deployed quickly. This leads to ease of use and financial
benefits. Companies can use the numerous cloud-based applications and services available for
managing business projects, such as human resources, accounting, invoicing, document storage
and sharing, and online backups, all at an affordable cost. Examples of providers offering this
type of platform are Google Apps (email, calendar, and documents), Salesforce.com, and Intuit’s
2. Big Data Analytics - A big challenge for many companies is proper management of big
data. Data is growing faster than ever before and it is everywhere: documents, the
Internet, social networks, appliances, devices, sensors, etc. It is no surprise that the past
few years have seen an explosion in business use of analytics. According to Gartner
Research, data volume will grow 800 percent over the next 5 years (Gartner Report,
2017). Corporations around the world are using analytical tools, including business
intelligence (BI), dashboards and data mining, to gain a better understanding of their
present customers and to predict who will potentially become customers. Organizations
are evolving from generating static and passive reports to proactive analytics with real-
time dashboards. The factors that have contributed to underlying shifts include large
volumes of data, the Internet, the evolution to the Cloud, and the changing demands of
customers. The Internet revolution has created an environment where consumers want
even more information and have greater expectations. Management wants fast answers,
and analysts expect the data now, without latency. Consequently, a new genre in BI tools
has emerged offering data exploration and rapid prototyping. These new tools empower
users to choose when, where, and how they interact with an organization.
Although most organizations already empower their employees with analytics tools to
access data and improve decision making, many are now embedding analytics into their
core business applications. The objective is twofold: first, to broaden their reach and
second, to improve the timeliness of insights. While embedded analytics is not a new
concept, the technology for the integration of reports, charts, dashboards, and self-service
tools has evolved rapidly over the past 30 years. While current users of embedded
analytics are primarily large corporations, there are numerous additional industries and
organizations where embedded analytics tools could advantageously assist decision
C. Workplace/Enterprise Collaboration
Digital knowledge-sharing platforms have become central to problem solving in geographically
dispersed offices (Hass, Criscuoolo, and George, 2015). Information and its flow through an
organization are important enablers for the successful execution of business strategy. Information
is an integral part of each and every task that gets executed in an organization and the outputs of
these tasks are directly dependent upon information. The amount of digitized data continues to
grow at an exponential rate and workplace collaboration tools for information sharing and
meeting organizational needs are becoming increasingly important.
“Enterprise Collaboration” is defined as a system of communication among enterprise
employees. It may include the use of some or all of the following: a collaboration platform,
social networking tools, a corporate intrane , and the public Internet. Enterprise collaborations
enable employees to share information and work together on projects remotely through a
combination of software technologies, networking capabilities and collaborative processes.
The way today’s knowledge worker collaborates is changing and involves a mix of both in-
person and virtual attendees. Collaboration technologies include video conferencing, document-
sharing, and groupware. Modern collaboration Wainhouse Research surveyed 200 commercial
mid-to-large enterprises (>250 employees) and probed into collaboration tools the respondents
use to get their work done. They found that, on average, over half of meetings include remote
participants attending via audio, video and/or web conferencing (Haskins, and Nilssen, 2015).
Another technology that has drastically changed the landscape for workplace collaboration and
enabled virtual, visual, and anywhere meetings is CCT. In a highly competitive business
landscape, CCT enables dynamic collaboration between workers. Using web-based software,
organizations can facilitate communication between suppliers, customers, and distributors and
use this communication platform to make judgments about a firm’s external environment. CCT
has emerged as an exciting new means for empowering this type of communication. Usually,
CCT is delivered as a paid service in exchange for third-party management of IT infrastructure.
Companies rely on cloud-based workplace collaboration tools to increase employees’
productivity. Mobile and remote end-users can use cloud-based messaging services or team
collaboration platforms to interact and exchange information with multiple contributors.
Collaboration platforms like Fuze, Slack, Workplace, and Microsoft Teams focus on broadly
defined productivity improvements for employees by offering voice and video conferencing, and
messaging. Cloud messaging services are an integral part of an enterprise digital workplace
strategy. Cloud messaging services can assist geographically dispersed organizations to improve
Table 2- Cloud Services for Communications and Collaboration
This platform makes teamwork easy.
“Fun-Free” version supports up to 15
Voice Over IP (VOIP)
Provides access to basic phone systems such
as call routing, faxing and voicemail.
Provides inexpensive collaboration tools
such as shared desktops, white boarding,
and in-app private chat
Skype allows professionals to collaborate
through screen sharing, instant messages,
video conferencing, and audio conferencing
and file sharing.
Allows users create chat rooms, private
chats with small groups, and one-on-one
Provides a rich, free plan and multiple email
templates that help send emails quickly.
Enables running robust and easily-
automated email campaigns.
Managing Social Campaign
Enables management of social campaigns.
Offers tools for listening, publishing,
Surveys and Campaign
Helps employee build, style, test, and share
surveys, and examine the results.
Helps solicit feedback from people using
their productivity and project workflows. Team collaboration tools offer group messaging, file
sharing, and voice and video conferencing support. These same tools also allow in-house and
remote employees to easily interact and exchange information among themselves, and their
customers and partners.
Software services in this category make teamwork easy, fun, and inexpensive. They are easy to
set up and provide collaboration tools such as shared desktops, white boarding, and in-app
private chat. One can easily run and manage robust and easily-automated email campaigns by
creating chat rooms for employees and by creating email templates that help send emails
expeditiously. E-mail Marketing tools can be used for sending promotions, announcements of
new features or services, and discounted coupons to customers. Table 2 provides a list of some of
the cloud services available for communications and collaborations.
VI- IMPLEMENTING A LEADING –EDGE WORKPLACE TRANSFORMATION
A leading-edge workplace transformation initiative should take a holistic and cross-functional
approach, spanning people, places, and technology. However, not all organizations experience
success in implementing digital workplace transformation projects. Increasingly, digital projects
are not strategically focused. All too often, organizations overly concentrate on technology rather
than on the people using the systems. Technology, of itself, will never be the solution to all
problems. As with any new investment, the key is to ensure that selected technology reflects the
overall business strategy, and will significantly add value to business (Perks, 2015). Therefore, a
cross-functional delivery team that includes senior leaders as well as IT, HR and Marketing
should be formed. This cross-functional delivery team should assist future projects by providing
access to expert knowledge, helping with the discovery of project-critical information, and
enabling more efficient ways of working. The team should create a digital workplace strategy
that clearly articulates business focus and guides the development of digital solutions.
A. A Conceptual Model for Implementation
Gartner recently conducted a 12-month long survey of enterprises with cloud management
strategies and identified the three phases of cloud adoption strategy. We adopted this model and
modified it to fit a leading-edge workplace transformation initiative described below and
summarized in Figure 10 (Smith, 2016):
In Phase 1, relevant employees should:
1. Learn about digital technology solutions and perform a detailed analysis of the
applications and services the company requires.
2. Identify the business goals the company is trying to achieve with the digital solutions and
translate them into guiding principles to drive development, and
3. Implement a digital strategy, considering technology implications and alignments with
The workplace strategy should set clear priorities and serve as a blueprint for the roles and
relationships of each department. Define a clear business case and timings for the enterprise
Figure 10- Implementation Phases
digital strategy. Identify which services and digital workplace tools and solutions are needed.
The most impactful deployments start with users fully understanding their desired business
outcomes and then identifying the services that will be offered. This requires asking questions
such as what services users need, how much of each service will be consumed, when each
service will normally be consumed, which users will consume each service, and what is a
reasonable price for each service need to be answered.
In Phase 2, relevant employees should work with the CIO and business stakeholders to
document and analyze the internal processes that will be affected by the selected digital
solutions. During this analysis, they should study the internal processes involved with offering
relevant digital solutions. This might bring to light the need to flatten, reconfigure, realign,
refine, or eliminate inefficient processes and target repetitive manual processes for automation.
The types of security that will be applied to the deployment must also be addressed. Enable and
bring together user-friendly systems, data integration, social, mobile, analytics and cloud
computing technologies to create a digital workplace that responds to the informational needs of
employees. Companies should integrate social collaboration tools like voice, video, messaging,
and workspace tools to make knowledge sharing more effective and they should provide the
requisite platform to access and secure information across multiple devices and channels.
In Phase 3, companies should continually enhance existing solutions, maximize the adoption of
digital solutions, and ensure user adoption. As workers’ needs evolve, these companies should
continually exploit new opportunities and deliver a consumer-like experience and a consistent
user experience across multiple platforms for internal employees. Corporations should simplify
the organizational and cultural changes that hinder the adoption of DWS. They should engage
with users, to understand their needs and articulate how the digital workplace enables them to
work productively. Firms must ensure that employees have access to training that enables them
to use the digital solutions to their advantage, and that technical personnel and trainers are
trained properly to support the digital solutions technology. Lastly, firms must provide policy
training for employees on the type of information they should or should not share, and on the
handling of personal (do you mean “personnel” data?) data, and the avoidance of potentially
damaging their organizational data.
B. Key Factors to Consider
In order to fully reap the benefits in the digital workplace, organizations need to take a holistic
view of the scope of digital work projects and consider the following critical issues:
Take a cross-functional and holistic view of the organization’s digital work place and
involve representatives from key stakeholders on the delivery team
Ensure that the project is enterprise-wide and encompasses a significant proportion of the
Enable employees to have a choice of workplace location
Help to improve employee and customer experiences
Aim to change the way employee actually work
Choose collaborative tools that are easy to use and accessible
VII – Case Example of Success
While many organizations are doing their best to harness the power of digital technologies, some
organizations have pioneered the use of technology to develop successful digital workplaces.
Founded in 1994, in Bakersfield California, Interactive Educational Services or Inc. IES, Inc.
provides expertise in developing and managing online educational activities, certificate programs
and professional designation programs. This small business has successfully migrated to a digital
workplace and uses various digital solutions throughout the company for years. IES, Inc. has
leveraged several systems in a centralized way to make sense of information and support better
In 2002, the company changed its direction and started offering a full range of web development
packages and e-Business solutions to private and nonprofit organizations all around the US. IES,
Inc. is developing new tools, teaming with Web specialists, and forming new alliances that keep
it at the forefront of the web technologies movement (IES web site, 2018). One of company’s
platforms called “Cyberschool” is being used by more than 1,000 schools nationwide. It is a
great platform for improving communications throughout the school district and reaching the
community at large. With more than 2,000 customers in 48 states, IES, Inc. is the biggest web
and Mobile App development company between San Francisco and Los Angeles. IES, Inc.’s
efforts have been recognized in Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines. In 2008, the company was
the Recipient of Goldline Research awards for “The Most Dependable Web Designers” in
California (Goldline Research, 2008) and in 2009 and 2010, IES, Inc. was the recipient of
the “Leading Web Provider” of the Western United States (Goldline Research, 2009 and 2010).
IES, Inc. has helped many companies increase productivity, reduce costs, and improve customer
loyalty by optimizing their web presence. At the same time, the company has combined effects
of emerging Internet technologies, increased computing power, and fast, pervasive digital
communication to spawn new ways to manage talent and assets as well as new thinking about
organizational structure. As a first step in the transformation journey, IES, Inc. identified the
business goals it is trying to achieve with the digital workplace and translated them into guiding
principles to drive ongoing development of solutions. Additionally, IES, Inc. defined the focus of
the digital workplace strategy and aligned it with existing information management strategy. The
main objectives were reduced operational costs, accelerated time-to-market for their portals,
increased agility and flexibility, improved employee satisfaction, improved customer experience,
and increased revenue. While it was important to note which technologies corresponded to
certain use cases and working styles, knowing these technologies in depth helped IES, Inc.
identify areas in its workforce where a lighter-weight, less expensive solution could solve a
The company considered the intranet as a platform that links everything together. Agreed what
were the most common ways that employees wanted to work, collaborate and communicate with
one another. Worked out which tools, apps and services to target and personalized to the right
employees who needed them most.
As the technology landscape continued to evolve, IES, Inc. made CCT the core of its digital
technology upgrade. According to Mike Diaz, IES project manager, since 2002, the company has
been using Web-based cloud services for e-mail marketing, video conferencing, Customer
Relationship Management (CRM), financial analysis, document and spreadsheet creation, and
for bypassing capital investment in servers and software licenses (Site Visit to IES, Inc. February
2018). Since the introduction of CCT, operating costs have reduced and efficiencies have
increased. IES, Inc. has experienced a noticeable increase in office productivity. For example,
between 2014 and 2017:
The time that it takes to design and develop a custom web site decreased by 30 percent
The cost of IT support and customer service decreased by 40 percent
The office productivity increased by 35 percent as measured by fewer number of
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has enabled IES to access many services at a low cost. More
specifically, the company is using the power of CCT to enhance its DWS in the following ways
(Site Visit to IES, February 2018):
1- Communications and Collaborations
Voice Over IP (VoIP).- IES, Inc. is using Asterisk to gain access to basic phone systems
features such as voicemail, call routing, faxing, call recording and dial-in conferencing
for its 15 employees.
Video Conferencing and Meeting Management- IES, Inc. is using Zoom for video
conferencing and Go-to-Meeting for meeting its customers online for demonstration of its
platforms or for providing customer support. Features such as shared desktops, white
boarding tools, and in-app private chat enhance communication with their customer.
E-mail Marketing – IES is using email marketing service provided by Send Blaster for
sending promotions, announcements of new features or services, and discounted coupons
to its customer. IES, Inc. takes advantage of email analytics features provided by the
module to find out whether its messages and or promotions are effective or are falling
In-House and Online Chat with Customers – Rocket.Chat provides IES, Inc. employees
with an easy-to-use and a powerful communication platform. This chat-based
communications tool is designed for teams of all sizes to communicate with one another
thorough the workday. Employees create chat rooms, private chats with small groups,
and share files. The Online feature enables employees to communicate with prospects
while they are browsing the company’s web site.
Help-Desk and Customer Service Ticketing – IES, Inc. staff provides phone, email and/or
help desk support on an ongoing basis. Technical support technicians are available to
work with clients to resolve any and all issues that may be experienced. In order to
streamline support requests and better serve its customers, IES, Inc. utilizes OS Ticket, a
support ticket platform. It features a combination of automation and self-service tools that
reduce ticket workload in order to provide fast customer service. Every support request is
assigned a unique ticket number which can be used to track the progress and responses of
customers online. For each reference, the platform provides complete archives and
history of all customers’ support requests.
2- Security and Network Monitoring
According to Robert Mann, the company IT director, IES, Inc. provides web hosting
services, with solid security and data protection, to all of its more than 2,000 clients. In
addition, IES, Inc. uses private cloud infrastructure. All servers are located in a building off
premises and are managed by the CenturyLink, a secure management service. Private clouds
provide greater control over the cloud infrastructure and are ideal for IES customers. IES ,
Inc.servers are run on a secure, high-end redundant computer network. The hosting service
offers a secure state-of-the-art data center with 24-hour, year-round monitoring system to
ensure maximum uptime and system protection along with daily backups, redundant internet
connections and on-site generators with battery backups. IES also employs the
following cloud software services for the security and maintenance of its CCT (Site Visit to
IES, February 2018):
Network Monitoring- Site 24x7
AntiVirus – Kaspersky and Malware Bites
Server Backup – Storage Craft and Home Written Scrips, for providing automatic
backups and delivering excellent security.
3- Mobile Communications and Social Media Marketing
Mobile Communications - Mobile communications are essential when it comes to
engaging K-12 digital parents and keeping them informed about school events and
activities while they’re at work or on the road. A branded mobile app can deliver the
most often requested school information and news updates. IES develop Mobile App for
its k-12 Cyberschool clients. The company uses two frameworks, Ionic and CF Wheels,
for developing hybrid Apps. Both frameworks offer a nice selection of templates and
fields to help guide IES through the creation process.
Web Analytics - IES is using Google Analytics, one of the most widely used web
analytics service on the Internet. Using this free software analytics, IES’s clients can
track and report website traffic for their web sites. The analytics gives clients insights
into how users find and use their websites. They can sift and sort their visitors with
dozens of dimensions. They can also track ROI for their online marketing.
Social Media Marketing - IES is using a healthy balance of social media marketing
channels, including organic search, email marketing, events, social media and other lead
sources. Moreover, IES is using AdWords – Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
system for its own web site because AdWords delivers measurable ROI. Compared to
traditional marketing channels such as TV and magazine advertising, online marketing is
highly measureable, and AdWords is one of the most measurable and flexible of online
channels. It is transparent, providing a multitude of metrics that allow users to see what
works and what doesn’t.
4- Financial Tools and Employee Time Tracking
IES uses a host of online software for handling of its financial needs. For example, IES, Inc.
uses Approveme to handle its contract management. The software tracks activity and capture
signatures in minutes. It enables IES, Inc. to automate and simplify creation, management,
and storage of the contracts sent and signed by clients. For its payroll, IES, Inc. is using
Intuit QuickBooks Payroll whicht enables the company to create and manage employee
payment records. In addition, IES, Inc. is using an RFID reader for time tracking where
employees can Clock in/out using a Key Fob. The Reader integrates with QuickBooks and
provides a report for quickly understanding and tracking employee timesheets. Additionally,
IES, Inc. uses both PayPal and Authorize.net for merchant gateways for processing of
customers payments in various forms (credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, and PayPal Credit).
5- Web Design and Social Media Integration
IES, Inc. uses many social media tools in order to reach a broader audience and expand its
online presence. The company selects the right channels to boost its leads, and then drive
engagement in its web content through conversation and community (Site Visit to IES,
February 2018). Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter,
LinkedIn and YouTube are great communication and marketing tools and allow IES
customers to give instant feedback on products and services.
IES creates engaging, interactive websites using social media features such as blogs, forums,
wikis, news and announcements, event calendars, media galleries, RSS syndication, sharing
and bookmarking toolbars. These features provide technology solutions to help implement a
social media strategy by “engaging audience” and distributing content across various social
platforms. According to Viking Mann, Marketing director at IES, the company uses Adobe
Suite, including Photoshp for editing and compositing of photos, web, and mobile app
designs and Dreamweaver for design and development of modern, responsive websites (Site
Visit to IES, February 2018).
VIII- SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
The workplace is experiencing an unprecedented transformation driven by technology. In recent
years, work has shifted from the physical to the digital and the popularity of digital workplaces
has soared. Today, global employees still prefer to exchange face to face conversation with their
colleagues. However, the nature of work will change substantially and will likely be very
different in the next 5 to 10 years. Remote teams and better communications technology will
make face-to-face communications obsolete. Employees’ changing lifestyles and their desire to
work outside of the office are driving this evolution. Additionally, the millennial generation, now
entering employment in vast numbers, is reshaping the workplace. They will dominate the global
workforce and are more willing to embrace workplace technology. They prefer to communicate
electronically at work than face to face. They care strongly about having access to advanced
technologies, believe that access to technology makes them more effective at work, and are more
likely to quit a job with substandard technology.
This study concluded that a digital workplace is the foundation for a successful business
strategy- it enhances collaboration and leads to increased productivity. Digital workplace
solutions introduce both challenges and new possibilities to many aspects of physical workplace,
internet architecture, protocols, services, and applications. Managing a digital workplace
program for a large organization can be a challenging task and is growing more complex every
year. To realize the business benefits of a truly digital workplace, organizations need to prepare
for the massive workplace change, use digital workplace technologies, and head in the direction
of creating intelligence context around people. The agile workplace transformation initiative,
discussed in this paper, should provide a balanced work–life program for its employees while
simultaneously advancing organizational goals in productivity, efficiency, and space planning.
Progressive companies provide their employees with easy-to-use hardware and software
collaboration tools that can be upgraded and expanded over time, with minimal training and
efforts. The success of the digital workplace will be constituted by a well-orchestrated approach
that addresses all of steps highlighted in this article.
Finally, the experience of IES, Inc. in implementing digital workplace solutions provides a
guideline for practitioners to better understand the potential enabling and constraining effects of
implementing digital workplace technologies in organizations.
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