Urban Planning Meets Digital Transformation

Digital transformation should look like a master-planned community, not urban sprawl.


I often find that analogies from personal life are often helpful to understand and think through the challenges we face in our professional environments. For me, all week is spent working on ways to improve the portal/Employee Center experience for our clients, and the weekends are spent pedaling around on my classic road bike.

During a recent road bike excursion around sunny San Diego,I observed all different sorts of neighborhoods and communities. While each area has its own charm and character, the presence or absence of good urban planning is clearly evidenced in the experience of riding through the streets. Some neighborhoods have wide, clean streets, with zoning easily mingling residential areas with shopping and dining. Other areas feel congested, disorganized and make even stopping to look around seem very unappealing. The best of the neighborhoods had great signage, well zoned streets, and felt inviting to porous the main drag and side streets. It was easy to find the top local eateries, locate parking, and access the services a citizen might need.

It occurs to me that the analogy helps explain what enterprise software users experience when visiting various portals, intranet, and internal sites. Some experiences make users feel like closing their browsers or cruising on over to a different avenue to get the information or services they are looking for. Digital transformation, like urban planning, needs to recognize that users have expectations on being able to enjoyable find what they are looking for, and that they have preferences on where to stop and sit for moment. Let’s consider this a bit more to make sure our portal experiences aren’t run-down boroughs that our users want to avoid.

Small Town

The small town has a little bit of charm, and you might like to visit it once or twice. But the small town lacks the goods and services you need to get life done. This is the IT service portal of a couple of years ago.You really only go there when you need something. It’s just a quick stop off point to open a ticket. There is not enough content on these portals to bring you back, so unless you know exactly what you need, you’ll likely never cruise by.

Urban Sprawl

This is when one small town springs up next to another. IT service portal? Sure. Let’s stand up a basic HR portal. And maybe a Purchasing portal. How about legal? Sure. Next thing you know, it’s like driving across a digital version of Dallas. (Apologies to any readers in Dallas). Yes, everything you need is here, but finding it is time consuming, frustrating, and requires good local knowledge of what portal you need to go to.

Master Planned Communities

This is the epitome of what the enterprise portal should be. It doesn’t all have to be built at once, but all roads should lead to and from downtown. This is a central hub. An enterprise portal, build on Employee CenterPro. This allows all users to start their daily work journey in the same location, and then easily navigate to the community they are looking for. It’s a melting pot of rich content, access to services, and even the people needed to help users be effective in their jobs. Even if a user needs to take a trip from the central hub, landing pages, clear navigation, federated search, and even virtual agents can help direct users to adjacent neighborhoods to find what they need.

The goal really needs to be creating a centralized starting point for all users, and then planning out the building process with signage, ease of use, and even user preference (curb appeal) in building a long term strategy. The crew at NewRocket understand this journey sometimes requires a bit of remodeling, even bulldozing of existing portals, but the end goal of a master planned enterprise portal ensures the growth, efficiency, and satisfaction of your work force. Reach out to learn more about our trajectory mapping services.

About the Author

Matthew Allen is the Experience Practice Lead at NewRocket. Matthew heads up the global UX/UI and content consultancy from sunny San Diego. He is passionate about Latin America, cycling, camping, and his family. I also love attending Knowledge conferences and hope to meet you in Las Vegas!

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