Overcoming the app attack

How a digital workplace can keep your team on the same page

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Chintan Jain

Overhead shot team around a table

We’ve been conditioned to turn to technology for problem-solving. As the wave of digital transformation reaches companies of all sizes, applications are picked up to improve productivity and organizational culture.

Business apps can be a great asset, but these solutions are turning into the problem—there are too many apps. Even in the domain of process management, multiple applications may be used by different departments. The procurement team handles workflows in one app, while the HR team handles them in a different one. And everyone must use a third system for enterprise-wide processes.

Maneuvering around all the apps gets complicated, especially for the technically challenged. If productivity declines 40 percent every time a worker changes tasks, the app flood is generating the opposite desired effect.

What do businesses need, then? A unified digital workplace where all kinds of work are managed collectively.


The problems with too many apps

Ten dollars a month sounds like a steal for a business app, but when the app only covers one function and four more are needed to handle all project tasks, you’re up to fifty dollars a month per user for just one process. Application subscriptions tend to be reasonable, but when dozens are required to cover operations, workflow, and communication, the monthly tech bill tallies up pretty high.

Driven employees want to spend time innovating, not searching for information in a sea of apps. In most cases, apps aren't integrated, so data remains siloed—and so do teams. Employees miss opportunities to offer or receive support from others' developments since they are unaware of work outside their department. When data is spread out everywhere, collaboration is hindered and management can’t get essential reports and analytics without tedious cross-checks.

Laptop screens and mobile phones become crowded and noisy. Having to switch back and forth between tabs can be maddening, and all the jumping around distracts workers, slowing them down. More than two-thirds of workers waste up to 60 minutes a day toggling between apps on the job.

One of the most common complaints is the lack of flexibility in business apps. After an app is implemented, workers realize it doesn't offer proper conditions settings or other capabilities. Sometimes, a project shifts direction, but the new ideas don't fit into the app framework, so the cycle of apps continues.

Across a legion of apps, collaboration policies are blurred, and communication is chaotic at best. Chat applications speed up correspondence but aren't always attached to work. Emails can include documents, but the latest version gets jumbled in the chain. The onslaught of messages between email and chat applications negatively affects efficiency.

Don’t forget the technical issues. IT has to take the time to validate each app, ensuring tight data security and sufficient storage will be provided. Then there’s the problem of shadow IT. When employees aren’t offered the tools they need for work, individual apps fly under the radar, at the risk of company security.  


The solution

What if there was a single platform where several types of work could be managed? Numerous problems would be wiped away in one fell swoop. A digital workplace does just that.

Predictable, system-led processes are managed in an automation module, where streamlined workflows are created by IT professionals or citizen developers. One-time projects are planned in a separate, more flexible module. Cases with recurring beginnings but different outcomes are managed in a third module, and a built-in collaboration tool keeps everyone on the same page, both literally and figuratively.

Dozens of monthly subscriptions across multiple departments are boiled down to one subscription encompassing multiple tools. A fragmented digital culture is exchanged for a consolidated platform where all internal information is readily available. Operating in a central platform reduces digital distraction so employees can focus on one item at a time in the digital workplace.

Communication is incredibly simplified. Correspondence surrounding automated processes take place within the workflow, and the same goes for projects and cases, lightening the load of endless email and eliminating the confusion of figuring out who the next point of contact should be.

Make a move

Despite the old adage, what doesn't seem broken may need a closer look. What purpose does each of your apps serve? How broad are each app's capabilities? What is the total monthly cost of app subscriptions?

Perhaps most importantly — does the plethora of apps empower your employees to excel in high-value work? 66 percent of employees want to integrate all their communication in a single platform to reduce chaos and increase workflow efficiency. Internal insights can be extremely valuable when weighing tech options.

Instead of fighting the app battle, make a strategic move to consolidate work in a unified digital workplace. After all, technology is meant to lend a hand, not weigh us down. The key is selecting the right tool to construct an environment where teamwork and innovation can thrive.