3 challenges for digital workplace implementation in businesses

André Wei is one of Europe’s leading IT directors and the CTO of French lingerie manufacturer Chantelle. Earlier this year he described the challenges of Digital Workplace implementation within businesses at an IT conference I attended in Paris, one of the few before the dreaded lockdown and its consequences. The Coronavirus crisis, if anything else, has turned the digital workplace from nice-to-have into a must-have. André’s tips will come in handy for all those businesses wanting to catch up with their digital workplace implementation.

3 challenges for digital workplace implementation in businesses

Digital Workplace implementation
The challenges surrounding the implementation of a Digital Workplace are manifold. Chantelle’s André Wei described them to us at the IT for Business morning event on February 26th in Paris

Very often, we are still witnessing the difficulties encountered by users in sharing information, accessing their information systems, connecting to video conferences … “there are many pain-points related to the Digital Workplace” said André Wei, CTO of Chantelle in his introduction to the February 2020 IT for business morning conference. Many other CTOs, and IT users, will readily agree with him.

Let’s face the music, we may well be in the twenty-first century, but all these challenges have been around for ages.

Digital Workplace: different things to different people

The term ‘Digital Workplace’ means different things to different people. At a time where most businesses and users if not all, are moving en masse to online collaboration, there are still, however, quite a few open questions surrounding its implementation.

“Before, the focus was on workstations, but now it’s the Digital Workplace,” added André Wei. Now I understand. Beyond the name change, the onus is on IT departments to foster new ways of working and the fact that everyone, or nearly everyone, in the business environment, is concerned.

As a result, I noticed that the term sometimes was related to the IT infrastructure, at other times collaborative work, or even human and organisational issues. Bottom line, the Digital Workplace is at the heart of all business matters.

Digital Workplace: When the rubber meets the ground field-proofed

Thus, André Wei shared with us his experience upon his arrival at Chantelle in 2017, after a stint with a very agile consulting firm (Bain). Arriving at the time of the budgets, he witnessed a “high mass based on XL files”.

It was for him a “return to the 90s”, and he worked to change that. “The user has applications on his phone and he is used to communicating, so how can we imagine a return to the corporate world? “he added, echoing a post we published earlier.
<3 main reasons for working with Digital Workplace
According to Chantelle’s CTO, there are 3 main challenges to implementing a Digital Workplace, improving business processes and instilling new ways of working.

  • First the efficiency and productivity: we can no longer arrive 30 minutes before the conference to make sure it works. It may sound strange, but collaborators always have trouble with collaboration.

 

<Thirdly, a HR game: for a new employee, going backwards does not look good. When recruiting new talent in marketing and IT, there is a retention issue. During job interviews we are asked: “What is your teleworking policy”, we are competing with these HR issues as well. “Making an ally of HR is a good tactic,” explained André Wei.

In summary, according to André Wei, the implementation of a Digital Workplace goes further than the “simple” transformation of the IS (if one can find it simple at all):

  • It can’t be the whim of a CIO or a CTO – it’s a business issue linked to the technological environment (e-commerce, omnicanality, data, etc.),” described Chantelle’s IT manager, who succeeded in getting things moving by getting a speaker to talk about digital transformation without talking about technology. “This really made things move,” he explained.
  • In order to successfully implement its Digital Workplace, upstream transformation work will also be necessary. It is an effort on the prerequisites that is absolutely mandatory, explained André Wei. In particular on the network: “Without a network, nothing will work and membership will be minimal”. It is a work of infrastructure, but also of data circulation, RPA and automation for the uses. The challenge is to become the IT department that says “yes” and not the IT department that says “no”. “”. A good way of looking at things, in my opinion.

  • Finally, and above all, change management. This is even the heart of the project according to André Wei.

The crucial points of the project

According to André Wei, a project of Digital Workplace goes through the following phases :

1) commitment of Comex as project sponsor in order to allocate means. “They are the first to convince, and it is not necessarily easy to convey the understanding of the importance of the subject.

2) the commitment of the teams who must be behind the project. In particular, the service-desk must follow, it must be in phase with the project and “it is not a small problem”.

3) change support for users (e.g. with champion programmes). “I like to say that there is a story of tone” concluded Mr. Wei, “ISD must add an image to the HR aspect, bring pedagogy and simplicity”.

And as always when we talk about simplicity, it is a very difficult task.

Yann Gourvennec
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