Industry Insights

The ROI of digital workspaces

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The past 18 months have taught business leaders that flexible work and collaboration environments can be the key to business continuity—whether the business is office-centric, hybrid, or distributed. The proof is in the numbers: In 2020, the collaboration software category exploded, growing five year’s worth of users in the first six months of the year alone. And, in a recent study done by IDC (doc #US48130821, August 2021),  86% of businesses say good collaboration applications help them retain their best talent. 

Digital transformation is the act of transforming an organization into one that can scale all or part of its business and innovate at a pace that is an order of magnitude greater than traditional businesses to create new ways of working.

However compelling the evidence is, digital collaboration hasn’t been smooth sailing for everyone—even when there’s a desire to adopt it. Now, the big question looking at the remainder of 2021 is: How can business leaders design workspaces that foster a culture of collaboration and accelerate digital transformation?

We recently spoke with Wayne Kurtzman, Research Director, Social and Collaboration at IDC, to learn more about what he thinks of digital transformation and how businesses can lean into the future of collaboration.

Based on your research, what does digital transformation mean in the context of the last 18 months and why do so many companies get it wrong?

An important aspect to digital work is to connect coworkers—and make them feel connected to each other and their work. Some companies focused on the work alone and not connecting people—the most important part of starting to transform. Collaboration is what people do together to get work done. Technology, when it is the right solution, helps that collaboration scale.

We also know that a lot of companies are facing hard decisions about whether to return to offices part-time, full-time, or at all—all of which have significant implications on company culture and the social connection between teams.

IDC research shows a key reason many companies fail to digitally transform has to do with culture. Digital transformation requires leaders to balance both the right technology and processes to support a collaborative digital environment. However, once a business has the right technology and processes in place, building a healthy culture of collaboration around those tools is the hardest thing to get right, especially during a period of fully or partially remote work. 

But where organizations continue to see the biggest challenges is enabling teams to work together effectively and trusting distributed teams to do their best work. In fact, enabling digital collaboration is imperative to business continuity—86% of businesses say good collaboration applications help them retain their best talent.

If you had to reverse-engineer a culture of innovation, where do you think business leaders should start?

Across regions, the biggest challenge companies have is communicating effectively. The ability to communicate and collaborate in the context of work requires a mind-shift by leaders at every level of the company. Companies who were able to, in Alvin Toffler’s words, learn, unlearn and relearn were able to be more open minded and found greater results. This often included finding new emerging businesses where they could expand.

We know the pandemic changed how many businesses think about digital workspaces—first because they had no choice but to enable remote work, and now because they’ve seen that productivity actually increased during the pandemic. And the reality is, investing in collaboration can be impactful for core business metrics like: recruiting, retention, employee wellness, and ultimately, revenue.

From your perspective, how should business leaders choose the right technological ecosystem for their business when such a vast array of new features and platforms have recently hit the market?

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the right technology ecosystem for your team.

First, develop a wide group of allies in determining the needs and benefits of the technology. On average, IDC finds that over four line-of-business leaders join with IT when purchasing collaborative solutions. By adding non-manager employees to the discussion, you get better “hands on” views, as well as greater commitment to the solution’s adoption.  

Additionally, look for a technology that enables processes through a central command center. Throughout the day, knowledge workers constantly switch through multiple apps and tools. Rather than adding to that pile, look at technology for a way to reduce the noise in employees’ day-to-day life.

Finally, your tool should meet your company’s needs and abilities: ease of implementation, support for a wide array of integrations, and security, governance and compliance. Look for a strong support team and a track record of a strong return on investment.

Learn more about digital transformation

Want to hear more from Wayne and IDC about digital transformation and collaboration software? Watch the entire webinar now.

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