This article was initially published on diginomica.com
, on March 6, 2019.
The idea that company
employees discuss and share their inner musings on corporate secrets
when standing around the water cooler is probably more down to the
movies than it is related to any form of reality. But if people are
talking at work, one of the up-and-coming topics these days is their
workflow – or lack of it.
Regardless of whether people talk
at the water cooler, the tea station, or while queuing for lunch, we
all discuss our working life experiences with each other in an
informal way. It’s a sort of supplement – or you might say antidote
– to human resources … and it’s where the crux of working lives is
really played out.
So in an increasingly connected and
digitized world, may we suggest that the thread of water cooler
conversations might be shifting slightly? Armed with new tools to
transform the way many company processes are being carried out,
people may now actually start discussing the state of their digital
workflows and measuring their job satisfaction as a result.
A new yardstick for job satisfaction
People are now
looking at the way work really gets done inside their organization
in a far more granular and analytical way. Regardless of whether or
not an individual is fully aware and cognizant of the digital
workflow that their role may fall into, they are probably in one
What everyone will know, instinctively, is that
there is a flow of work between customers, partners and other
members of an organization. What we can do with digital workflows is
more accurately locate areas where work can be carried out more
More than ever before we also know that people
have more choice about the technology they use every day. We’ve
witnessed the rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to work and the
general consumerization of IT that came with it.
experiences should tell us that if you don’t give people the right
tools, then they will go and look for them. Equally, if you don’t
give people the right applications, engagement systems and wider
workflow patterns, then they will instinctively go and look for
them, or make them.
Unrestrained innovation in a digitally
The shift to digital business brings with
it new opportunities. Non-techie businesspeople are starting to
embrace so-called low-code software application development
platforms that allow them to build elements of app functionality
that work just the way they want them to.
As these new
freedoms play out in the workplace, firms need to think about the
unknown factors. Unbridled and unrestrained innovation is all very
well, but the problem with custom-built point solutions is that they
often do one well, but fail to provide scope for enterprise-wide
scalability or an ability to integrate across the entire
If we think about platform-level technologies, we
can build that innovation factor into software that is digitally
native to the cloud era and so ready for a more structured approach.
Because these applications have been built in a digitally native
territory, they will be able to leverage fully integrated native
device capabilities, such as maps, camera, and so on.
virtuous circle of workflows
If we hinge our business models
around digital workflows that define which data lives where, then we
can more easily react to change and uncover new streams of
profitable operation. Digitizing workflows means we can use defined
data where it has the right impact, but also channel unstructured
data to the data lake.
But even the information in the data
lake need not go to waste – we can apply Machine Learning (ML) to
these data resources and use algorithms to find patterns in business
transactions where we weren’t even looking for them to drive new
business outcomes. This can be a virtuous circle because workflows
can be tuned and changed based upon the new insights uncovered.
The business process you didn’t know about
The best work
processes are very often the ones that you follow, but that you
didn’t even know about. If we define digital workflows and build our
operational models around them, then we can increase productivity
and create great experiences for employees who want to work anywhere
and at any time.
A lot of employees have to take actions
throughout the day that move the organization forward, but often
these same actions prevent them from doing high-value work. It’s
time to transform old, manual ways of working into modern digital
workflows, so employees and customers get what they need, when they
Create a joined-up experience
digital workflow initiatives and getting your transformation started
can be a real challenge and as a result, many companies struggle to
even start their efforts. First of all, we all have disjointed
internal systems and processes that make it hard to connect the
dots. Trying to navigate these can feel like unravelling a ball of
yarn, so the more you learn, the more complicated they seem.
Once you make sense of the systems and processes, you have to
figure out the myriad of tools and solutions that drive these. The
result you should be aiming for is a common, workflow-driven
experience layer that is consistent across the systems in your
Your typical company employee might still be more
likely to discuss holiday plans, managerial peeves and whether or
not Bert or Marjorie (insert name of your choice) in accounts is
being a pain about company car allowances, but the ‘how is your
workflow?’ conversation is coming. Are you digitally hydrated