The Knowledge Worker Desktop.

The story

“Integration” drives paradigm shift

Demand for white collar productivity and process optimization has filled the desktop with software tools like e-mail, MS Office or similar productivity packages, intranet, electronic case and document management, business intelligence, collaboration tools and information rights management.

This has led to a cluttered and not very effective desktop.

Everyday knowledge workers waste valuable time as they jump between software packages and re-type or copy information and documents – in order to compensate for the lack of integration of their software tools.

Software vendors handle the integration issue by building integration controls into their software or by adding more desktop applications, typically in the form of smart integration tools or work flow engines. This may ease the pain, but does not seem to solve the underlying issue.

Two decades ago business software users were challenged with a similar issue.

Based on best-of-breed IT strategies, the business user desktop was filled with stand-alone applications  for ordering, invoicing, inventory management, general ledger, etc.

These software packages were loosely coupled using integration controls and tools. Then integrated business software – Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) – came along and ERP vendors changed the scene when they offered a single platform for business software users.

Early ERP software probably lacked functionality, but within a short time frame the benefits of “true integration” outperformed the best-of-breed approach, and stand-alone applications were eliminated by a single platform packages.

Taking “process optimization” as the starting point for projects within both governmental and private organizations, cBrain has experienced the difficulties people face working with a non-integrated knowledge worker desktop.

In the autumn of 2006, cBrain was invited to work with one of the largest Danish ministries (the Ministry of Social Welfare).

This resulted in cBrain delivering an integrated knowledge worker platform to support their 400 employees within the department. This newly released software application is referred to as the “Knowledge Worker Desktop”, and initial estimates within the ministry indicate that “once again” real integration offers significant advantages.

On average users save 30-45 minutes per day, leading to close to 10% productivity gain, by replacing their existing best-of-breed software with the Knowledge Worker Desktop – an expected productivity lift, which is achieved before other changes or optimization of existing work flows.

This is a first step, and further productivity gains are expected as the Knowledge Worker Desktop will be used as the platform for future process optimization and new services.

In parallel, the integrated approach offers online/real-time production overview, including the ability to monitor and prioritize “white collar” production by individual people and organizational units thus supporting increased work quality and better work load balancing.

As an extra gain the “truly integrated desktop” – offered by the Knowledge Worker Desktop – also allows for full digital communication, which is a part of the Danish government IT strategy and required by the end of year 2012.

At the core of this achievement is a new sophisticated model for communication and knowledge processing built into the Knowledge Worker Desktop.

This includes various types of electronic communication (in addition to traditional email) integrated with a set of specific knowledge sharing processes like “Distribution of documents for review“, “Passing on documents for further processing”, “Introduction and approval” and “Hearing – review meeting”.

However full digital communication can only be achieved when not only case workers but also management “use a keyboard” and truly participate  in the digital workflow.

This can be achieved with the Knowledge Worker Desktop, as the desktop supports all people roles involved in the digital handling of cases – from case workers preparing a case to management providing comments and approval.

“Integration” was a key driver when Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) vendors came around and changed the scene as they offered a one-single-platform for business software users.

Now “integration” may once again change the software industry with the emergence of integrated software to fuel white collar productivity – when one-single-platforms like “the Knowledge Worker Desktop” replaces and outperforms existing white collar, best-of-breed productivity tools.

Not only governmental users, but knowledge users in most white collar industries like consulting, banking, insurance, etc. can benefit from this new integrated approach.

As knowledge workers across white collar industries replace their personal productivity point applications with integrated solutions like the Knowledge Worker Desktop, this concept may become a new software category which will grow to become significantly larger than ERP – due to the number of white collar/knowledge workers worldwide.