The Power and Opportunity of Digital Work Management

Digital work management

As companies race to digitize every aspect of their business—from development to marketing to supply chain and customer experience—they simultaneously have to accelerate the speed at which they conduct business. This is no easy feat.

Digitization creates truly infinite possibilities, which brings new pressures that not every organization is equipped to handle. These pressures include:

With all of this happening simultaneously, it’s no wonder teams feel disconnected and struggle to execute together. As long as work process remains manual and analog, everyone will operate at different paces, all of that data will remain trapped in silos, and leadership will be left flying blind—with no way to plan, execute, and measure work at a strategic level.

While it may feel like a daunting task, getting and keeping up with the speed of business is no longer optional. IBM estimates that by the year 2020, 93% of high-value work will be digital. The urgency and the opportunity to work differently has arrived.

What Not to Do

Many organizations are acutely aware of the pressures that come with digital, but their attempts to address it continues to be tactical and not strategic. They roll out various collaboration and project management initiatives. They adopt legacy productivity tools. They deploy incremental point solutions or they retrofit existing platforms, all the while thinking, “Well, this has worked for us before.”

These initiatives inevitably fail because the tools were not built for the demands of how people and companies must work today.

In the world of modern work, surviving and thriving requires bold, new steps.

A Traditional View

If you think about operating models, there are four basic elements of operations:

1. Your leadership approach

2. The outcomes you’re driving toward

3. Your work execution

4. The cadence at which your outputs are delivered

In many organizations, leadership functions hierarchically, following a “command and control” approach. We have EVPs, middle managers, and front-line employees, and goals cascade from the top, down. This activity produces outputs within projects and initiatives. Work execution happens by function, usually in siloes, supported by various productivity apps. And the cadence is largely driven by quarterly view, driven by traditional financial reporting and quarterly planning.

A Bold, New (Necessary) Way

Leadership must evolve from being command and control to being “transformative,” which requires a complex and very strategic orchestration of a vast ecosystem of people, technology and processes.  The question is: can you as an executive make this shift, beyond digital transformation—and catalyze a comprehensive transformation across the entire organization?

While not new, the story of how Domino’s Pizza transformed its business has become legendary.  The massive shift from a bleak $8.76 per share and a reputation for selling pizza that tasted like cardboard, to a current share price of more than $225 and 12,500 locations in 80 countries, required that every single business unit and leader work together, and work strategically.

In the modern world of work, leadership must look across functions and weave together the pieces that lead to true transformation, across departments, business units, in fact, the whole enterprise. Outcomes are no longer simply the projects and initiatives we churn out. For Domino’s, it was about more than just the pizza. It was also about the ordering app, the store experience, the delivery vehicles, the corporate branding, the social voice, and so on. Today, customers expect integrated experiences that seamlessly blend product, service, and communication at the right places and times across their ongoing journey.

In order to deliver on that kind of outcome, you must evolve your work execution from a siloed approach—where you take care of your one little piece with your old productivity app, this piece with a spreadsheet, and that piece with too many unproductive meetings—to a comprehensive work platform that spans the full experience you’re trying to deliver. Why? Because the new cadence of work is no longer quarterly, it’s continuous. This level of coordination is at the enterprise ecosystem level, with groups and resources coming together to create quickly and with context.  The only way to accomplish this level of constant and creative coordination, and the intellectual property it produces, is up-level your approach, and “platform” work.

This is the new, modern operating model.

A Modern Work Leader

Here’s an example of one of the business leaders of tomorrow championing a shift to this new model of work. A large financial services company we work with launched an initiative around one of their core offerings.

Personalized education was a key part of this initiative. The original process of personalizing the messages and materials each client received was manual and analog and spreadsheet-reliant, processes were slow and inefficient, and it was impossible to keep up with the demand. An advisor would meet with a client, report back and ask for custom content to meet the specific need, wait for that content to be assembled by a relatively small and overloaded creative team, and then they could circle back with the customer. The creative team was customizing individual pitches tens of thousands of times a year.

This company has now completely transformed this process. Partnering with Workfront as their strategic work management platform -- or operational system of record -- They have:

As a result, not only is the customer experience top quality, but the team members work faster, and also feel empowered and proud of their work.

Harnessing the Operational System of Record

Like this example illustrates, an enterprise work management platform enables people to deliver predictable results more quickly. How? By helping teams standardize workflow around best practices, enterprise-wide.

Think of a modern work management platform as the backbone of all your work. It connects all of your other systems and tools in a boundaryless way, exhibiting the following essential features:

A Mandate for the Modern Age

This new model of work both accelerates and orchestrates work with greater precision and certainty, making it possible to see what’s happening across the organization in real-time. It’s modern work management at its finest, where all business activities can be planned, aligned, choreographed, and measured. When you consider two competing statistics from Workfront’s annual State of Work survey—that 64% of workers are asked to innovate at work, while a staggering 58% don’t even have time to think—having a single operational system of record like this is no longer a “nice-to-have,” it’s a true necessity in the modern world of work.