How to Build a Digital Work Hub

Organizations often struggle with a mess of digital business tools. A digital work hub can bring order to the chaos.

Jordan Horowitz, Contributor

June 24, 2022

3 Min Read
picture of a group of workers using tablets and a laptop

Your company most likely has multiple subscriptions to tools like Microsoft 365, Salesforce, and Slack. While you might know how each tool works on an individual level, figuring out how they interact with one another and provide organization-wide value can be a daunting task. Making that determination requires careful analysis, which could require the help of a team of experts.

One expert who’s up to the task is Gartner director of employee experience Joe Mariano, who recently gave a talk at Gartner Digital Workplace Summit. In his presentation, Mariano laid out his philosophy and methods for companies that juggle multiple software platforms. The goal is to build and refine digital work hubs.

Take Stock of Your Tools

When building a digital work hub, the first step is to understand what you have, Mariano said.

For example, while you might think you know Microsoft 365, consider that it had 700 different updates in 2021 alone -- that’s a lot to keep track of! Additionally, besides not understanding all the nuts and bolts of a suite like Office 365, you might not also realize its limitations. Office 365 might meet 80% to 90% of your needs, but it can’t do everything.

Mariano referred to jack-of-all-trades tools like Office as “foundational.” In a pyramid chart, these foundational tools sit at the bottom of the pyramid. Just above the foundational tools are “domain” tools like Salesforce. Like foundational tools, domain tools have multiple uses, but they are more specialized. Finally, at the top of the pyramid are “situational” tools like Slack. Situational tools are the most specialized but also play a key role in the company’s operations.

Related:Is a Hybrid Workplace Making Automation Harder or Easier?

Use the ACME Framework

After you know what tools you have, you then need to understand how best to use those tools.

To help you do this, Mariano pointed to the ACME (Activity, Context, Motivation, and Enabling Technology) framework, which he said “brings order to the chaos.” The ACME framework follows four steps:

  1. Identify the Activity that needs to be improved.

  2. Look at the Context surrounding the activity (e.g., What are you hoping to accomplish with the activity?).

  3. Examine your Motivation (e.g., Why do you want to improve the technology option?).

  4. Use this information to determine the Enabling Technology that will allow you to accomplish your goals.


Collect Data from Users

To get a bit more granular on this process, Mariano described how insights should be collected from the bottom of the organization to the top.

First, “day-in-the-life moments” should be tracked: those needs and frustrations that come up during an ordinary business day. Team leaders and staff should then provide insights about what goes wrong in day-to-day operations and how those issues could be improved (the ACME framework is helpful here). Executives can then give their insights.

Then, finally, a new digital work hub tool can be identified.

Examples of Digital Work Hubs

How would this work in practice? Mariano invented a fictitious company that provides corporate relocation services to illustrate his points.

This company gathered insights from its staff, team leaders, and executives based on day-in-the-life moments. Doing so highlighted several unaddressed issues. In one example, employees said they needed to send client receipts for reimbursement of travel to the finance team. This was then solved by using Box and SharePoint for improved collaboration. In another example, employees said they need it to be easier to work with real estate specialists and coordinate with movers. The solution was to deploy the MangoApps business collaboration platform.

By matching problems with solutions in this systematic way, any company can build and refine their digital work hubs, Mariano said. A company can dramatically increase its operational success as a result.

About the Author(s)

Jordan Horowitz


Jordan Horowitz is a freelance writer and editor based in the Boston area. In his spare time, he enjoys playing guitar, listening to history podcasts, and translating Brazilian songs into English for a YouTube channel that he runs.

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