A brief look back: from the enterprise portal to the Digital Workplace
Do you remember company portals, also called intranets? These are static pages whose purpose is to share specific information with the company's employees.
For the most novice, it is necessary to differentiate an intranet from an internet page. The difference lies in the accessibility of the page. Indeed, the particularity of the intranet is that it is only accessible internally, i.e. by the employees of the company.
From the static intranet to the Digital Workplace, a few evolutions have taken place. So how did the Digital Workplace come about?
Several years ago, an intranet was a simple static page whose purpose was to share information with the company's employees. Communication and Human Resources departments circulated documents and/or information to employees in a top-down communication approach. The first intranets were born in the late 1990s, and more specifically in 1996: that's when "Intranet Genie" was released, a product developed by Frontier Technologies that was also the first intranet-type software specifically designed for communication and collaboration between employees.
💡 To go further, find out how to turn your intranet into a Digital Workplace
The intranet has evolved by becoming more dynamic and by integrating new features. After a period of strong development in the 2000s, we can now find corporate social networks with (among others) Yammer and Facebook Workplace, instant messaging (Teams, Slack...), and links to business tools. These developments allow employees to benefit from a unique and fluid digital work environment, accessible from a computer, and also from a smartphone or tablet for mobile employees.
💡 To go further, discover our 7 tips to Boost your internal communication on the Digital Workplace
The objective of the Digital Workplace is now to facilitate collaboration and interaction and to allow employees to feel connected to the company's values, reinforcing their sense of belonging.
In summary, the difference between an intranet and a Digital Workplace is as follows: the former is a relatively compartmentalized internal tool with limited functionality, while the latter is a versatile, seamless digital workspace. In other words, the Digital Workplace is a digital toolbox that employees use every day. The intranet is therefore a part of the Digital Workplace.
What is a Digital Workplace?
The term Digital Workplace has been used for several years, and more precisely since the end of the 2000s. Although it does not have an official definition (yet?), it can be said that it is a digital (or digitized) work environment that :
(1) makes available all individual and collective information;
(2) provides communication tools to better collaborate;
(3) centralizes the business applications that employees need in their daily work.
In other words, it is a set of technologies and digital tools that are useful to employees in performing their daily tasks and that are adapted to the specific needs of an organization. It is a holistic approach that centralizes existing tools and fully integrates with business applications. Thus, the Digital Workplace generally includes the following tools (the list is not exhaustive):
- Cloud storage spaces;
- Chat applications;
- Project management and agenda sharing tools;
- Video conferencing applications;
- Electronic document management tools.
The beauty of a Digital Workplace is that it can be used by everyone in a company, including field employees. This allows all users to be engaged, whether they are on site or not. Furthermore, the Digital Workplace gives all employees the ability to work from anywhere, in a fully secure manner. By making work possible and accessible in a wide range of situations, it enables the digital transformation of companies.
Benefits of the Digital Workplace
The benefits of implementing a Digital Workplace are numerous. We will mention here the three main ones: the improvement of internal communication, the reinforcement of teamwork (collaboration), and the simplification of knowledge sharing. However, it is important to keep in mind that these benefits are not exhaustive, and that each company can find many different interests in the implementation of a Digital Workplace.