Category Archives: Digital Workplace

Document Management is still Most Important Tool (as of 2019)

Image by Tayeb MEZAHDIA from Pixabay

An Interesting article from David Roe, published on CMSWire this week, caught my attention and starting the wheels turning.

Original URL:

CMSWire carries out a great survey every year title the State of the Digital Workplace, and in the 2019 State of the Digital Workplace report, according to David, Document Management was the most important tool in customer’s digital toolbox in 2019.

The interesting followup is that only 12% it was working well.

More then 80% of customers who feel that document management is one of their most important tools appear to feel frustrated by how it is working.  This could be due to a lack of the implementation keeping up with the needs of the business in 2019, or it could be that the original implementation was simply lacking.

How many more years will it be before other tools become more important than Document Management? and which tool or tools may be the most important at that time? Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Microservices are three that David calls out in his article.

I’m not sure how those tools really surpass Document Management, as document management seems to be an application or a solution to users, I think, while AI, ML, and Microservices come across as platforms on which solutions are built.

I do think, however, that solutions for document management that leverage AI and ML, and that are powered by a distributed network of services built on a microservices platform will begin to show up in document management systems soon.

Whether or not customers see those solutions as being built on the listed components or whether they still see the solutions as document management solutions remains to be seen.

One of the other interesting points in the 2019 State of the Digital Workplace Report is that almost 50% of customers feel that their work towards a Digital Workplace is still in its early stages. I see this as meaning that there is much opportunity to get in there and explain how a digital workplace should look and feel and perform, that consultants should not hesitate to ask about a customers plans for their digital workplace.

I recommend downloading the report, and following David Roe and CMSWire. 🙂 …until we meet again.

The Activity Store is the New Source of Truth

The search for a document management solution wasn’t really being undertaken by the right people until you were asked whether or not it could either

  1. Serve as the Source of Truth, or
  2. Respect another repository as the Source of Truth

Life used to be so simple back then. At least, that was how it seemed. It turned out, that even the records management solution was never The Source of Truth – it was only ONE Source of Truth within the organization.

We will forever have to manage many Sources of Truth within our information farms and fields and domains.

It was always easier, though, when we could roll up multiple systems or at least similar systems, into a single Source of Truth.

Printed circuit board futuristic serverThe lingua franca of our information domains has changed, though. It’s no longer documents, or fragments, or reusable content. It is not even the lowest common denominator, the log file, any longer. It is now “Activity”. If that sounds like a vague term, it is only vague until you define it. Create a schema for it, and then every system can feed and consume “Activity” using JSON or other protocol (I’ll bet you still have plenty of systems/applications using REST or Javascript APIs or even .CSV files, don’t you?) and your systems can start to build on each other again.

Microsoft 365, primarily through the use of the O365 Audit Log and the Microsoft Graph, is providing an Activity Store that will power the next generation of applications.

Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services provide solid tools for managing and tracking the IaaS portion of your data center. But there is no comparison to the Audit Log and the Microsoft Graph for making sense of what is happening within your Digital Workplace.

As you build applications, you should be dropping hints, if not writing explicit updates, into the Log and the Graph. This is not only for ISVs, but also for the new breed of custom developer, or even power users.  You can choose to make your app yet another Source of Truth, but if you want your data and function to be incorporated into one of the new style of Digital Workplaces, then you may be better served by leveraging a central Activity Store.

The Activity Store is the new Source of Truth. Are you leveraging it yet? If not, your competitor might be.  There will always be many Sources of Truth. But buyers will be asking if you are yet another, or if you are able to leverage the one that they have.

Changing Workplace Behavior and a Focus on Intranets

I enjoyed reading Paul Miller‘s article about his predictions for the Digital Workplace for 2017.  So much so, that I decided to put down some thoughts that I couldn’t get out of my mind any other way.

Paul Miller, who leads the Digital Workplace Group, has a track record of prediction about the digital workplace over the past years. His entire article is one that I would recommend, and his entire list of ten (10) predictions for 2017 is worth considering.  Perhaps I will spout off about his other predictions at a later date, but for today, I want to tackle two of them, which are front and center with many of the Office 365 customers that I work with regularly.

Paul Miller’s Prediction #2 for the Digital Workplace

2. Focus shifts from “firing up tech” to changing behaviour and culture

This is a striking change that we in the Digital Workplace Group have seen strongly in 2016. For the first time, many large enterprises are most concerned about culture and behaviour change when deploying new digital workplace services – and are viewing turning on the technology more as a “hygiene factor”, particularly as services move relentlessly to the cloud.

For one major pharma client in Germany, their new collaboration services were straightforward technically – but after evidence from their history that simply implementing new technologies doesn’t bring the much-touted benefits to employees, this time they turned to change management and culture as the levers they needed to tackle. This pattern will extend for many organizations and the so-called “soft skills” of digital workplace improvements will take centre stage.

This is absolutely true – that companies are finding it more difficult to roll out applications and technology services to their employees and expect employees to be able to leverage them easily.  The switch in focus to encourage a cultural change among employees is a change that can’t come quickly enough.

This is a representation of the move to a SaaS-based and cloud-based infrastructure. Large application systems that previously were installed using a Big-Bang installation model were replaced by agile development and continuous deployment. Enterprise IT groups that used to deliver employee facing software applications and LOB services via large concurrent deployments are discovering the benefits of continuous deployment. The next phase of realization for this is probably with employees, that will need to transform from learning new application functionality and tools every year or two into a slipstream model of discovering new functionality weekly or monthly.

A focus on modifying culture and employee behavior will have a more productive impact on employee adoption. The tools and applications will still need to be built – and as more employees adopt the new tools, deployment cycles can perhaps shorten and the feature backlog for each app may also shorten.


I also think that Paul’s fourth (4th) prediction is worth some consideration.

4. Intranets keep getting better and stronger

Weren’t intranets supposed to have become extinct by now? Rumours of their demise have been around for 15 years or more. The reality is though that any well-functioning organization of any size still requires a robust, productive intranet, if only as a digital front door to the wider digital workplace.

Whether it is Estée Lauder or Nationwide, compelling intranets that deliver value to the workforce are essential within the context of the broader needs of digital workplaces. Upgrades, new functionality and better mobile experiences will all be part of the enhanced intranets we will see.

I also believe that the concept of Intranets is growing and deserves to be strengthened within organizations. The Employee Intranet is the heart of soul and culture for an organization. Often, as employees work in teams that are more distributed than ever, as organizations change more frequently, and as the nature of work relationships morph through time, employees will rely on the Intranet as a centering force.

It used to be that the Employee Intranet served up the published information to employees, and also provided support for work-in-process scenarios – the ad-hoc collaboration spaces for project teams and for employee workgroups. While intranets were manageable in size, this made some sense, and the cost to apply consistent branding elements across all sites was manageable.

Today, ad hoc collaboration sites find themselves being more separated from the highly structured intranet sites. Employee Intranet sites pay the cost of applying company branding to their pages, while ad hoc collaboration areas need to be spun up and down as projects are created and completed, and can’t afford to pay the “branding tax” for each instance.

I think that as the amount of separation between ad hoc collaboration areas and employee intranets continues to grow, that Intranets will gain strength and find it easier to maintain company culture and focus.

Enterprise IT Groups should consider the employee intranet as a discrete service offering from ad hoc collaboration spaces. Trying to combine them weakens the value proposition of both.


What are your predictions for Enterprise Transformation in 2017? I like Paul’s list – and will give the Digital Workplace Impact podcast a listen.