Understanding the Digital Workplace: 5 Questions and Answers


Approximately 40% of the workforce [ACP1] in most countries is able to work remotely. This became a necessity when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to stay in their homes. But being able to work remotely and experiencing a well constructed digital workplace aren’t exactly the same thing.

Understand the difference with our five digital workplace questions and answers below.


What is a digital workplace, exactly?

At its most basic level, a digital workplace is the virtual equivalent of the physical workplace. But this, of course, is a gross oversimplification. Evolving from the tangible spaces and systems that dominated our work lives for the last century to an interconnected and seamless online experience is about more than just ‘digitizing things’.

Deloitte says it’s the “natural evolution of the workplace, encompassing all the technologies people use to get work done in today’s workplace – both the ones in operation and the ones yet to be implemented”. This rightly implies that the digital workplace is in constant motion, ever changing as technology and business needs shift.

Gartner defines the digital workplace as a “business strategy to boost employee engagement and agility through a more consumerized work environment.” This one’s interesting. It talks about how the end benefit of a digital workplace is to empower employees to work more efficiently. By “consumerized work environment”, Gartner is saying that the technology that drives digital transformation needs to be as simple and user friendly as the apps and UIs we know and love in our personal lives.

Here at Sinequa, we believe a key part of the digital workplace equation is access to information. A high-functioning digital workplace enables collaborators to easily find the information, knowledge, applications, and people they need in order to work successfully.


What are the benefits of a digital workplace?

A digital workplace has obvious advantages, like decentralizing operations and reducing overhead and risk. And without the geographic limitation of a corporate office building, it also opens the door to attracting talent from anywhere.

But, as Gartner says, the true benefit of the digital workplace is an improved employee experience. Things like no commute, less friction throughout the workday, the ability to work when and how you work best (goodbye 9-5) can all be huge morale boosters and motivators.

Making it easy for employees to find what they need is also a big part of a successful digital workplace. Today, McKinsey data shows that employees spend as much as 20% of their time searching for information. A digital workplace that employs technology that makes it easy to find information across systems, formats, and languages can save employees hours of time and frustration.

That time savings translates into increased employee productivity. The ability to find the right information leads to better insights and more success in their roles. It also frees employees to do less routine work and more creative work, which ultimately leads to higher employee satisfaction and retention.


How do you integrate a digital workplace?

The digital workplace has evolved over the years to include a massive web of technologies. Sharepoint sites, employee collaboration software, customer management systems, business-specific applications, and many more all enable our remote workdays. Each houses valuable data and information, but it can only be surfaced by searching within each separately.

To break down these silos, businesses need secure technology that enables collaboration and access to information. This is where intelligent enterprise search comes in.

Let’s look at a call center example. The average call center agent has to use from 4 to as many as 15 different applications in order to get the customer information they need.[1] That’s a chaotic, frustrating, time consuming experience. With an intelligent search solution, an agent could search a customer’s name and instantly get a 360-degree customer view, including relevant documents, previous call center transactions, chatbot interactions, payment history, etc. This not only reduces the time it takes to serve a customer, but also the number of systems an agent has to learn.

To create a positive enterprise search experience like the example above, clearly understanding the use case(s) of the digital workplace is paramount – what kinds of information is needed, where does it live, how will it be used, and how should it be presented? Collaboration between IT, employees, and management, along with clear guidance and procedures are also key to successfully implementing enterprise search and integrating the digital workplace.


How do you control digital workplace productivity?

Digital transformation requires serious time and resources. To build the most effective digital workplace, it’s vitally important that there are clear goals and objectives driving the effort. It should be easy to explain to the C-suite how each change will impact the business—if it isn’t, reconsider whether it’s truly in line with your goals.

With a clear vision and strategy, you can then work with your collaborators across disciplines to map out how the digital workplace will improve employee engagement in their respective areas. What is needed to reduce routine work and foster creativity and teamwork? How will this impact current processes, organizational structure, and culture? Understanding how employees actually work (not how executives think they work) is crucial in this stage to build a roadmap that will have a real and measurable impact.

Since the end goal is to improve the employee experience, be sure to mitigate employee stress about the transition with training, and by communicating the rules and best practices. Set clear and measurable objectives and identify the analytics you’ll need to monitor performance, for example, tracking time spent in collaboration tools, assessing satisfaction via employee surveys, working with HR on employee retention data, etc.


Why is it so important now?

In December of 2019, Gartner predicted that by 2024 in-person meetings will drop from 60% of enterprise meetings to 25%, driven by remote work and changing workforce demographics.[2] Fast forward to March 2020, when four years of digital workplace evolution happened in about 30 days.

When lockdowns were imposed, everyone who could work remotely, did. Industries and companies that thought they weren’t able to function digitally discovered that they, in fact, could.

But the quickened pace of digital transformation has led to a lot of band-aid solutions. As it becomes clear that will be no return to “normal”, companies are now fully invested in a building a complete digital workplace. In fact, a McKinsey survey conducted in June showed that 85% of respondents have “somewhat or greatly accelerated the implementation of technologies that enable employee interaction and collaboration.” This is good news for employees who have also been asked to adapt must faster than anticipated.

Today more than ever, the digital workplace is not a nice-to-have, but a must-have. The companies that can successfully evolve will see happier employees, increased productivity, and long-term growth.

Insight Demo : Built for Digital Workers in the Digital Workplace

[1] Call Centre Helper magazine

[2] Gartner, Strategic Planning Recommendations, December 2019


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Enterprise Search in the Digital Workplace

easy-enterprise-searchThis article originally appeared on the APQC blog.

Any knowledge-intensive organization of significant size either has a digital workplace or is scrambling to establish one. As Gartner so clearly stated back in 2017, the goal of the digital workplace as a business strategy is to boost employee engagement and agility through a more “consumerized” work environment. Employees should be empowered and motivated to get the information they need and then act on it to further the goals of the organization. The tools and resources provided to employees should seem familiar—like those used outside of work — in order to drive adoption and maximize ongoing productivity.

Building the Foundation

Gartner’s “building block” diagram illustrates the components necessary to enable and sustain an effective digital workplace. Note the “Information” building block, described as data and content being delivered in context. As organizations continue to pursue initiatives around digitization and digital transformation, they often create new challenges for their employees to overcome. Many of these challenges emanate from content and data that is accumulating quickly and constantly across siloed repositories in different formats and languages. For employees, navigating this complexity means wasted time, missed insights, and lost opportunities. The answer to this problem is enterprise search.

Gartner's Building Blocks of The Digital Workplace

Collaboration that Scales

A modern enterprise search platform includes a combination of capabilities that work together to provide information from enterprise content and data. It provides information relevance that is tuned to user needs and can improve through self-learning over time. It can scale in multiple directions, enabling many end-users to simultaneously access relevant information and insights from huge, diverse volumes of content and data. Modern search provides speedy response times, even in the most complex and demanding environments where time is literally money. The user experience can be easily configured to accommodate specialty use cases. Analytics are automated wherever possible, allowing the machine to do analysis while users apply judgment and make decisions.

Driving Business Value

Depending on the environment and application of enterprise search, the business impact can take on different forms. In some cases, enterprise search can drive revenue.  This has been proven in large pharma companies that are able to bring new drugs to market faster and in manufacturing and service organizations that can generate more proposals without sacrificing quality. In other cases, enterprise search drives cost optimization, accelerated productivity, and responsive compliance.


What companies need now is a practical means of connecting the dots to tap the potential value of all the content and data that resides across enterprise systems.  Doing so will address all kinds of business challenges, including those that were unforeseen in the implementation of each individual system.  Intelligent search platforms such as Sinequa can enable organizations to rise to these challenges and help transform the way professionals, businesses, and industries interact and operate in the digital world.


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The Virtuous Circle of Empowering Employees Through Digital Workplace

1 happy employees titre

A “chicken or egg” question

We are continuously told to put the customer first. However, are we not missing a crucial element? Should the employee not be considered as equally important to the customer? Remember what Richard Branson says: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.

Would it be incongruous to talk about happiness at the workplace? Happiness can indeed seem very personal and far from corporate responsibility. However, according to a study from the University of Warwick, happy professionals are up to 12% more productive than unhappy employees. Psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky describes happiness as the experience of positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is meaningful. She suggests that happy people make better decisions. What would that specifically mean at the workplace?

Empowering employees

Part of being happy is feeling “in control”, so empowerment is vital. When employees are emancipated in their jobs, they can deliver the extra mile. Social sciences have demonstrated that empowerment can be explored both at individual and organizational levels. Companies cannot escape their responsibility in that area. The Thomas and Velthouse model of employee motivation shows that empowerment incorporates four facets:

  • Meaningful tasks to accomplish
  • Feeling of competence
  • Work self-determination
  • Personal impact over results

HR and IT must therefore work together in order to create an environment that enables employees to feel as such. HR must promote values such as trust and the freedom to act. And IT must deploy an applicative framework that fosters employees’ autonomy and self-training.

Empowering employees means giving people both the spirit and the tools to solve problems and complete their tasks with minimal manager’s intervention. Organizations have a duty to provide access to knowledge and expertise for staff to make informed decisions and act in efficient ways. Accessing the right information at the right time is an essential component of the employee empowerment.

Digital Workplace is pivotal

One of the objectives is to support data access and break data silos. The more distributed the data, the more challenging it is to find relevant insights. According to McKinsey, employees spend close to two hours per day searching for information! An enterprise search application which connects people to corporate content is a key cog within Digital Workplace services. Such a tool has positive impacts on employees’ morale as people get meaningful information to make them successful in their responsibilities.

But accessing the right digital information is not enough as, from time to time, employees need to connect to peers or experts. Digital workplace is also about achieving a more human work environment contrary to the common belief that technology destroys relationships. For instance, many of our customers have implemented a “Find the People” application which treats people as entities and offers the ability to discover the most knowledgeable people on particular subjects based on project reports, white papers, training materials, internal publications etc. And when the employee has identified a colleague with the right skills, he or she can contact this person. A “working” Digital Workplace has been proven to greatly increase one-to-one interactions.

And without being cynical, is the implementation of a Digital Workplace still an optional pursuit? With the pandemic, companies’ ability to operate as a digital workplace has become essential. Covid-19 has triggered an involuntary trial for teleworking for most of us. Even people normally working in the same office have been separated during the lockdown. The Covid crisis has reshuffled digital transformation agendas for many organizations, and the post-Covid era will not reverse this trend!

What about the customers?

A study by the Work Institute states that the average cost of losing an employee is approximately at 33% of their annual wages. Training and retaining employees through an empowerment culture can save employers a lot of money. Securing a talented workforce plays a decisive role in the performance of any firm as the internal knowledge held by employees is a highly valuable asset.

No need to say that this is even more paramount for customer-facing staff. A single point of access to information through Digital Workplace gives the best chance to provide the right help to customers. In some context, data analytics can also anticipate what customers may require in the near future. Providing relevant information and the ability to solve problems are key success factors for a customer service. To be effective in their roles, customer-facing employees should therefore be well-versed on company’s products and services in order to successfully respond to clients’ questions. If an employee does not find the response on how to address a customer’s concern, he or she should find someone else who can assist – hence the “Find the People” capability mentioned before. And guess what? Employees able to satisfy customer requests can reduce their own stress levels and enhance their well-being. Happy employees make happy customers. And vice versa!

Employee engagement is now considered a top priority by business leaders

A recent survey related to Digital Workplace, sponsored by Sinequa and conducted by the independent organization Drive Innovation Insights (DII), shows the importance of empowering employees.

When assessing digital workplace needs, three metrics stand out as being particularly critical: Employee engagement, Efficiency of collaboration and Increase of intellectual capital. Digital workplace’s spectrum goes beyond efficiency at work. It is above all an essential driving force for the engagement and motivation of employees. Employee engagement is overall rated as the highest quality criteria by C-Level professionals involved in Digital Workplace programs.

It is now clear to executives that engaged employees take positive actions to exceed customers’ expectations. Happy employees definitely make happy customers and further improve a company’s performance!

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Les Misérables and the Digital Workplace

When Optimizing Data Access Shows Soft and Hard ROI

When Optimizing Data Access Shows Soft and Hard ROIs

Les Misérables? Ring a bell?

Of course! This is a famous book by Victor Hugo, and the story is amazing! But what does it have to do with the digital workplace? Let me focus on a specific quotation and comment on similarities with the digital workplace.  It occurs in the chapter where Jean Valjean and Cosette are residing in a house with a garden.  In that part, Victor Hugo explores the multiple dimensions of nature.  What caught my attention is the following question: “Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins.  Which of the two has a grander view?”  The quotation resonated in my mind as it evokes similarities with the digital workplace, particularly in reference to data access.  For large and diverse content, having relevant and timely information is critical to companies.  There are different methods to query the data and the kind of ROI that can be expected varies by orders of magnitude.

The telescope – see far into the universe

What does it mean for the digital workplace? This means breaking internal data silos and opening up global information to your entire organization (any information shared by all, such as policies, procedures, HR information, compliance, etc.).  Having a digital workplace that includes an enterprise search layer that connects people to corporate content is therefore critical.  Every employee can see beyond its reach and access data spread over a wide range of different repositories.  This data is made available to everyone and everyone stays informed.

Such use of enterprise search does not bring a high degree of business specificity.  This is typically a Google-like experience with a simplified interface that is used indifferently by marketing, sales, engineering, or accounting people – any employee.  Working across business units to address multiple audiences (a horizontal approach) – its value can be uncovered by helping a large number of employees to find information; the ROI (Return on Investment) is based on an overall improvement of the company’s productivity.  According to McKinsey, employees spend close to two hours per day search for information.  In addition to increased productivity, such employee empowerment also has positive impacts on a company’s culture and employees’ wellbeing.  This is what we call a soft ROI.  A soft ROI is not easy to measure and rely on in a business case.  Benefits are referred to as indirect.  Having said that, some dollars savings can be estimated through productivity gains.  The main assumptions include the number of employees,  the average salary, and the percentage of working time saved thanks to a simple information finder.  A summary of an ROI that was calculated for a company comprising of 30,000 employees can be seen below.

ROI of Search for Digital Workplace

Assumptions were made regarding user adoption ramp-up schedules, with a greater number of users and a higher efficiency over time.  The ROI in this example is close to 13 million dollars over 3 years.

The microscope – explore what is next to you

How would this translate for the digital workplace? This ability would indeed be very helpful to assist intensive-knowledge workers in their daily tasks.  The term “knowledge worker” was first coined by Peter Drucker who defined knowledge workers as high-level workers who use advanced data collection techniques, statistics, complex correlations, case studies, and a lot more.  Data is key in helping them to perform their jobs.  And guess what? Enterprise search technology can also help in such a context.

As opposed to the simple Google-like experience, the objective here is to design a “Search-based application” customized with business-specific knowledge.  The value resides in the ability to follow a targeted business function along the key phases of its work.  Only enterprise search can index and aggregate very diverse data coming from both structured and unstructured content in order to extract the nuggets of information and provide a unified view on a specific topic (product, customer, company…)  For example, for a bank advisor, it is critical to aggregate internal data such as payments, information from the CRM, transaction history as well as external data, such as market analysis and news, to recommend the most relevant products to a customer.  The ROI is no longer related to a high number of people but to clear business-process improvements.  To do so, we target a precise group of knowledge workers on a designated use case in a specific vertical, a tryptic of “industry, use case, persona.”

Let’s take the example of clinical trials with a large pharmaceutical company.  Clinical trials are research studies that are aimed at evaluating a new drug.  They are the vehicles for evaluating a new drug.  They are the primary way that researchers find out if a new treatment is safe and effective.  In that case, the tryptic mentioned previously would then be “pharmaceutical, clinical trials, researchers.”  A specific “Search-based application” has been designed to dive into clinical data dispersed across millions of files and multiple systems and applications, surfacing insights to support the evaluation of new drugs.  The enterprise search technology had increased speed to market for new drugs.  Knowing that in the pharma industry, the average cost of new drug development is $1.0 billion, any slight improvement in the global process immediately gives better margins leading to bottom-line improvement.  This is what we call a hard ROI.  This type of ROI refers to clear measures that can be quantified in hard dollars.  To give you a flavor of the way the above pharmaceutical company calculated the ROI, you’ll find below some of the assumptions that were made (for your information, clinical trials include 3 main phases):

  • 10% to 14% of all drugs that make it to phase 1 succeed
  • 31% of all drugs that make it to phase 2 succeed
  • 50% of all drugs that make it to phase 3 succeed
  • 32% of drugs make it to phase 3
  • Average trial costs- phase 1: $170m; phase 2: $400m; phase 3: $530m
  • The cost of a trial is between $800m and $1.8b
  • The cost of patient/site recruitment averages $40k per patient/site

Locating key data and deriving insights is a key success factor for researchers.  The “Search-based application” has increased efficiency, shaving months off drug development timeline.  According to this large pharmaceutical corporation, the ROI realized is 25 million dollars per drug.

So, which has the grander view- the telescope or the microscope?

Both reveal worlds that are normally hidden from view.  For the digital workplace and data access, you require them both.  Accessing the right information at the right time is becoming ever more complex, and there are many factors with the potential to make it even more complicated.  Either for corporate content or business-specific data, enterprise search can help with both dimensions.  The ability to retrieve a company’s data assets and provide actionable insights in order to make informed decisions is indeed vital for business efficiency.  By applying methods and technologies, you can be sure that “Even the darkest of night will end and the sun will rise.” Another quote from Les Misérables.

Digital Workplace telescope vs microscope

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Sinequa is Proud to Announce the Opening of its New Office in the Big Apple

Sinequa US Expansion

Earlier this year, Sinequa expanded to a bigger space for its North American headquarters in New York City. The move, which happened in late January, extends Sinequa’s office space from 3,665 square feet to over 8000 square feet, steps away from the legendary Madison Square Garden and major transportation hub, Penn Station.  “Additional space was necessary to meet the needs of a rapidly growing team and extended pipeline of clients,” commented Xavier Pornain, Sinequa’s VP of Sales, NA who is charged with leading the office and Sinequa’s North America growth strategy.  The new location will be the company’s third move since expanding its reach to the North American market in late 2014.

To celebrate the grand opening Sinequa’s, CEO Alexandre Bilger, and COO Fabrice de Salaberry, flew in from Paris to christen the office with champagne, confetti and a few rounds of bonzini foosball.

Sinequa is dedicated to strengthening its competencies and expertise across North America to address the diverse needs of Enterprise Search among its existing fortune 500 clients and beyond.  For more than 18 years, Sinequa has been a leader in developing a next-generation Enterprise Search platform that turns data (both structured and unstructured) into information and insights necessary for organizations to become “Information-Driven.”

“I’m very excited to see our office flourish and grow. The new office comes with lots of conference rooms to meet with customers and partners with plenty of natural light that makes it a great working environment. In addition, it shows our commitment to the U.S. market while accelerating our growth and expansion,” stated Laurent Fanichet, VP of Marketing.

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