The real reason why I keep doing these insane 24-hour digital workplace marathons
It was 4.35 a.m. in the breaking dawn of a new summer morning, June 2008, in the cabin at the bottom of my garden in leafy North London. We’d been on air broadcasting for just over 16 hours continuously, to a dedicated community around the world. On the WebEx screen in front of me was Annalie Killian, then lead digital evangelist for insurance firm AMP, based in Sydney, sharing live from her desktop the latest features of the AMP digital workplace. Both she and the audience were loving what we were seeing and hearing. Talking to me on air via the phone was a caller from Los Angeles, who was part of what would become our “Wide Awake Club”, chatting to Annalie and me about some of the neat services AMP was offering its employees.
Suddenly it struck me. We were firmly into the dark Northern hemisphere hours of what was then called IBF24 (Intranet Benchmarking Forum 24) and I wondered what exactly this was we were all doing and experiencing. It wasn’t radio or television; not a webinar; not a teleconference. It felt then (as it has ever since in the five, soon to be six, “24s”) that this was different, pioneering and valuable. Twenty-four hours online when a worldwide community of digital workplace people could come together in real time; see for themselves what numerous well-known people and organizations were doing behind their firewalls. This was connection – and in the darkness of that night-time London garden, it felt fantastic!
So, on February 26, 2019, at 10 a.m. London time, Digital Workplace 24 (DW24) will launch into the digital ether yet again – and will continue to do so without missing a beat for the next 24 hours. For me, I adore hosting chucks of this “festival, extravaganza, marathon, journey” and acting as Executive Producer, because this is the internet at its very best: bringing people together in real time who could never be together physically; treading lightly on the planet; bringing a sense of the “true face of the digital workplace”; engaging a new younger audience for this growing digital workplace industry; having huge fun with music; showcasing wild card guests; and, overall, helping people both to learn and have a great time.
It’s exhausting to host but it’s also extremely exhilarating. There are things we can do digitally – liberated from the gravitational pull of the physical world – that we are just starting to understand. One of these is to bring into a global conversation people like Lucas Mburu, who runs a pioneering Tech Hub for Save the Children in Kenya, with Professor Ross Parry, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Digital) from the University of Leicester, and Robert Rigo, Digital Workplace Service Owner for Volvo Cars in Sweden, with US Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang, who will stand in 2020 on a platform of universal basic income amidst massive technological disruption in work.
At some point, one of the people listening and watching with colleagues in a meeting room in Mexico City at that company’s “viewing party” will call in and ask a question of one of our studio guests and they will chat to each other – and it will feel powerful, important and easy. That’s the beauty and the privilege of #DW24 and why I am so grateful to all the guests and the community who will tune in.