IT departments in organizations worldwide are battling each day with governance and compliance when it comes to managing their employees use of various software solutions.
The challenges lies in both limiting the use of unauthorized software solutions and the so called "Shadow IT", as well as expanding the use and utilization of the company's authorized software solutions, so the user gets full benefit of the purchased solutions, and the software becomes a help and not a time waster.
On the other side of the IT department are the employees, who often have to deal with undergrowth of tools that often have no glue between them, and where the daily use and utilization is left to the individual employee to understand and interpret.
Some systems are required by the individual employee to use, which often gives reluctant and irritated employees - often so much, that many cheats and find their own unauthorized tools in order to have a more relaxing, daily worklife.
According to a recent IBM survey, 83 percentage of 200 global CIO's admit to be using shadow IT in their organizations, although over one-third of the respondents have said their company did not allow the use of cloud services without the involvement of IT.
Add to that the bring-our-own-device, as well as an explosion in the extent of data in general, and you have the recipe for the perfect chaos - a chaos that is so difficult to sort out, that it is increasingly accepted as a premise, that the company's system portfolio and the use of software are both a daily help and a millstone around ones neck.
Collaboration software providers have for several years tried to market solutions that could replace the fragmented best-of-breed solutions and consolidate them into a one-size-fits-all solution.
It is a nice and appealing thought, but unfortunately also a mirage. Facts are that people are fortunately innovative, and the number of different ways one wants to work in companies are numerous, both with the individual employee and in the various departments, and no tool can handle this diversity.
One thing is organizations use a variety of industry-specific systems that support the company-specific functions.
But alone on collaboration tools we see a total fragmentation, where different departments use different tools for the same purpose within the same company. For example, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive and Box for content sharing and storage, or Yammer, Slack, Teams and Chatter for quick communication.
In addition, more and more types of tools overlap each other in functionality, across system types.
For example, a discussion thread with comments on content can take place in Word Online, in OneDrive where the document is stored, in Teams or in the CRM system where the concerned case is rooted.
This situation is the natural law of digital information society. You can try to control it, but you can't stop it.
As a visionary CIO, you should turn it to an advantage and help create the best possible conditions for getting collaboration and productivity out of your employees’ individuality.
A new generation of collaboration tools are on its way, replacing one-size-fits-all with a true "hub" mindset, where an integration approach is the cornerstone, combined with the opportunity to turn embedded collaboration functionality such as document management, editorial news management, task management, group functionality, etc. on and off - depending on how integrated a solution you want and how much you want best-of-breed or built-in functionality.
In my own business, it has taken us many years of hard-fought experience with complex organizations' collaborative flow to come up with a solution that hits the balance where the fragmented software portfolio of companies - including shadow IT - is accepted and turned into an advantage.
The solution model in our interpretation of the future Digital Workplace Hub consists of key elements such as:
- Unified Enterprise Search (Elastic) which gives the employee one place to search their information across systems.
- A notification center that consolidates system notifications across all integrated systems in one place
- An Activity Feed populated by activities from all integrated systems as well as,
- Widgets, which have designed views of key content from other systems, such as ServiceNow, PowerBI, time tracking, work scheduling, ERP and more, giving a quick overview and access to the individual systems.
Only via data exchange
The future Hub will work exclusively via data exchange between the company's integrated systems, or combined with user-generated content such as user contributions in terms of comments, postings, documents, group work, etc. and, of course, deciding the contributions of news editors, known from more traditional intranets.
Views, configurations and integrations should be made available in department-specific setups, in order for each user or department to receive a welcoming invitation to use their tools in the most appropriate way for both company and employee.
By providing flexible and modern settings for the employee, dissatisfaction with the established solutions are gone, as they are suddenly made accessible and usable at a completely different level, and furthermore employees' own personal favorite tools are put in a more controlled context with the company's infrastructure.
Not just a new take
Is this just a new take on the traditional intranet? Hardly.
The interpretation in an individual company of what an intranet is and should be, is so diverse nowadays, that it makes almost no sense to talk about intranet as a category anymore.
There are limits to how much elasticity there can be in a setting designation, and presumably it is a matter of time before the concept is buried by concept institutions, such as Gartner Group.
The future Digital Workplace Hub gives a very free interpretation of the company's IT department, and the ownership moves with a focus on data and integration, from the communication and HR departments to IT and digitalisation.
”To Hub or not to Hub” is a topical question that IT departments should be asking themselves, and with it comes a self-examination as to whether to restrict and manage its users, or whether to try to create the settings for a symbiosis in which users and departments diversity are accepted and create an environment in which they can contribute in a secure, manageable environment.