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- Edward Taylor, Chief Growth Officer at DWG.
Ever wondered what it’s like to join an in-person DWG member meeting? June saw DWG’s first such opportunity in North America in three years. This was a special chance not only for members to celebrate being together, but also to mark DWG’s 20th anniversary and to reflect on all that’s been accomplished as an industry during that time.
In this episode of Digital Workplace Impact, DWG’s Deputy CEO, Nancy Goebel, and Chief Growth Officer, Edward Taylor, shine a light on some 14 takeaways from the New York City event. Hosted by The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., the event provided unique insights, rich dialogues and helpful connections for all those attending.
In addition, DWG debuted an in-person technology lab. This window into the digital workplace of 2025 enabled practitioners to hear more about emerging technology trends, as well as core capabilities that are readily available today. The session was a valuable opportunity for members to gain insights from vendors with a strong track record in organizations of a similar size and reach.
In this whistle-stop review, Nancy and Ed also discuss the latest on DWG’s research, events and future opportunities. To hear more about whether such member experiences might be right for you, listen today, or even consider joining DWG’s London event on September 14–15, 2022.
Show notes, links and resources for this episode:
[00:00:00.250] – Edward Taylor
I think there’s a lot of learnings from those in the room that were at earlier stages of their journeys to sort of say right, well, this is where the bar has been moved to and I think that’s one of the more refreshing things that you get to see with the member meetings is that when you’ve got a host organization that can sort of demonstrate elements of best practice with inside their own digital workplace, it really helps the organizations in the room get a feel for what might be possible within their own enterprises. So I think there’s a huge lot of value that people get from that and obviously you’ve got the sort of individuals that led those programmes in the room so we were able to ask lots of questions and really get into the granular level detail, not just about the capability of the technology.
[00:00:44.570] – Nancy Goebel
Today I had a chance to catch up with my colleague Edward Taylor. Ed is DWG’s Chief Growth Officer and was one of several colleagues who flew in from the UK for DWG’s in person member meeting hosted by the Estée Lauder Companies in New York City earlier in June. People often ask us what it’s like to be part of a DWG member meeting. It is certainly a unique experience and I thought it would be highly interesting to catch up with Ed to have him share a window into the experience along with some key takeaways. The meeting was not only special because it was the first in person meeting in North America in three years, but it also coincided with our 20th anniversary. Importantly, DWG member meetings are very much the unconference. Members always comment on how member meetings are such a great source of insight, conversation and connection. Of course, all of which is done in a very confidential setting and often we have people coming together for the first time and over the two days they really do make such incredibly deep and important connections as part of the peer learning experience. In addition, this member meeting debuted new Technology Lab as a window into conversation about digital workplace 2025.
[00:02:14.810] – Nancy Goebel
So in addition to chatting about the highlights, you’ll also hear Ed talk about some important headlines that came up during the member meeting, including the unveiling of a new piece of member research, an announcement about our next member meeting which will be hosted in London on September 14th and 15th. And finally, he shared wider context around our 20th anniversary celebrations. So be sure to check out the show notes for links to each of those items. The new research is entitled Viva Teams or SharePoint: Understanding how they fit together. The anniversary blog series is entitled 20 Perspectives for 20 years. And finally the save the date for the London member meeting and Technology Lab on September 14th and 15th in London. Join me now in conversation with Ed Taylor. Happy listening.
[00:03:15.080] – Nancy Goebel
So Ed, it’s just terrific to have you back in the studio again, welcome.
[00:03:20.750] – Edward Taylor
Absolute pleasure Nancy. We’ve been looking forward to this one. Already feels like New York was a bit of a distant memory, but such is life.
[00:03:29.190] – Nancy Goebel
Well, one of the ways we can keep things fresh is to have a chat about some of the things that you took away from the first DWG in person member meeting in New York City in mid June. It had been nearly three years since the last North American gathering of DWG members and close to two and a half years on a global level. So let’s just jump in and talk about what the experience was like.
[00:04:01.850] – Edward Taylor
It was fantastic. I mean, physically, getting to America took a bit of time for those travelling from the UK, but it was nice for me because it was the first time that I travelled in a business setting since March 2020, when we’re doing some consulting work out in Houston. So it was nice to sort of feel like we’re getting back into the rhythm of doing member meetings in person. And I actually took the time just to sort of go through and pull together some high level statistics of the session that we had, just to sort of help set the scene a bit for the listeners. So just to give you an idea, we had 21 different organizations attend the member meetings and they represented I’m quite bowled over by this number. They represent a total number of employees of about 1.6 million individuals. So it’s a really interesting group of organizations, predominantly from North America, but obviously with very big global presences. We will have organizations such as Adobe, Campbell Soup, JP Morgan, Koch Industries and other organizations representing sectors like financial services, retail, banking, health care, pharmaceuticals, energy businesses, technology providers, food manufacturers. And obviously, we cannot mention our host for the session, which is Estée Lauder, which is an organization that is very dear to my heart.
[00:05:25.280] – Edward Taylor
And I’ve done a lot of work with Kerry O’Donnell and Nancy Maloney and the rest of the Estate Lauder team over the last couple of years. So it was a really excellent opportunity to sort of get a group of people in a room and start to sort of understand the challenges that they’ve been dealing with over the last two years since we got together. And I think that for me, the sort of key part of the member meeting is just the value of bringing those different individuals together that represent areas like internal comms, HR, IT, diversity, inclusion, and these are individuals who very much manage large scale digital workplaces for organizations that we mentioned have predominantly very large workforces. And so with the member meeting, I think bringing all of those people together, I think the secret source from a DWG standpoint is we have sort of a very thorough process in terms of designing the agenda for those member meetings over two days. And we want to try and get as much value both for the host organization, Estée Lauder, but the participants from the participants from the member meeting to really get the value as well from sort of getting those different organizations together.
[00:06:39.920] – Edward Taylor
And I think the part for me that Paul Miller, our CEO and founder, we sort of always comment on the fact that the first activity that we always do is a live benchmarking activity where we look to get each of the organizations to describe their challenges, wins and technologies that they’re using and particularly focusing on the most recent six months. And Paul and I always comment on the fact that just that exercise in itself that usually takes about 2 hours to go through is probably one of the most valuable things that we do. And we kick off with that because it really helps set everybody up for the rest of the session and really helps introduce people who may not have attended some of the member meetings before. It helps them get a feeling for where they are relative to other organizations in the room and when people starting to share their challenges and their wins. Obviously we might deliberately pick on more seasoned members just to help set the standard for the types of things that we want to discuss, but it becomes quite a cathartic experience for those organizations that may not have been to these member meetings before and really helps them sort of feel that they’re in a comfortable environment where they may want to share about the challenges and the wins that they’re having with inside their organization.
[00:07:53.540] – Edward Taylor
I think that’s a really powerful way to start off a member meeting.
[00:07:57.830] – Nancy Goebel
Yeah, it’s one of those things that it gets people front of room sharing from the start of the meeting, so that really sets the tone for open sharing in a confidential space. But I also think that because the member meetings are about rich content, great conversation and connection, it really gives you the vantage view of where other organizations are so you can cut through to the people you want to spend some more time with over the two days and beyond. Because very often the member meetings are conversation starters for members and they branch off and have deeper follow-on conversations after the fact as well. But then it’s also a window into the trends that we’re seeing. And are there any that stood out for you just in terms of takeaways from that live benchmarking exercise Ed?
[00:09:00.000] – Edward Taylor
Yeah, absolutely. I certainly felt that we’re still seeing a lot of these organizations in a very sort of informal approach to sort of hybrid working and return to the office. I think there wasn’t anybody who raised their hand when we asked if there had been sort of a significant sort of policy that sort of outlined exactly how they were going to sort of deal with hybrid. And I guess that was sort of brought home to me a little bit that we’re dealing with. I’m based in the UK, so I think we’re a little bit further ahead of the curve in terms of the Covid cycle that we’re going through. But certainly in New York, where we were, I feel like the Covid situation is still quite delicately balanced and obviously organizations need a bit more time to sort of arrive at a satisfactory solution to sort of hybrid working. But it was nice to be able to use that session to really get a sense cheque as to what the different organizations appetites were to hybrid work and how they were approaching it. And I think that helps benefit the practitioners who are in the room to sort of get a feel for what their counterparts in other large scale organizations are doing, so they can sort of go back and report to their senior leaders inside their organization to say, as a straw poll, we feel like we’re heading in the right direction in terms of our approach to hybrid, but there’s still work to be done to really start to sort of nail down those challenges.
[00:10:25.010] – Edward Taylor
And again, I think the other big takeaway for me was the real quite heavy investment in sort of technology from different organizations, really accelerating the different services that they’re looking to deploy or already have deployed since the Covid crisis began. And I think that’s been quite interesting and it certainly put a lot more pressure and emphasis on the leaders and practitioners who are managing these digital workplaces, because I think they’ve been thrust very much into the centre ground and are now also starting to sort of play a more active role with other functions inside the organization. I think we’ve always advocated that successful organizations work very well in a cross functional manner and sort of get there if they were based in internal comms, they’re working with their counterparts in HR and IT and vice versa to really get to those higher levels of maturity. And I think that’s certainly something that we’ve seen, I guess, longer term, obviously, with the rollout of huge amounts of technology that then creates sort of knock on effects around how do we govern these new solutions and services and how do we sort of extract the value that the end users need, taking into consideration that we’re working in a very much a hybrid environment, how do we deal with those challenges?
[00:11:45.730] – Edward Taylor
So I think there’s quite a lot of pressure on digital workplace practitioners to succeed and I think the next sort of year or so is going to be really critical, seeing how people sort of approach those challenges.
[00:11:57.630] – Nancy Goebel
Absolutely. And I think other things that the live benchmark highlighted include things like continuing to see a focus on the employee experience at the centre of the work that’s happening. And you talked about that accelerator effect with technology that Covid brought about, and what that means is that there are quite a few teams in the room and across our industry circles that are needing to think about the role of governance and measurement more holistically now, so that teams are working cross lines of business cross-functionally to ensure that the right things are happening. Vis a vis the digital workplace ecosystem or portfolio that demand management is being addressed properly, that data driven decisions are put at the centre of how those portfolios get governed. And then, of course, the whole change management paradigm, because change is constant and moving with velocity, meaning, speed and direction, that ability to help employees navigate the change alongside leaders and the stakeholders who are managing the digital workplace, those things in combination are still critically important, what Shimrit Janes, our Director of Knowledge, would call the whole organizational readiness paradigm.
[00:13:36.090] – Edward Taylor
And I would add to that, obviously, with the increased levels of complexity that’s been brought to the enterprise, obviously we then need to start thinking about how do we retain and attract the necessary talent within the organization to be able to manage it? And I think there are certainly a number of organizations in the room as part of the member meetings that have done quite a high level of recruitment over the last sort of 18 months and have got pretty significant teams now in terms of headcount. I think one organization in the financial services sector has sort of recruited a team of over 50 individuals that covers everything from sort of UX research to sort of applications management, service desk support and so on and so forth. So they’re becoming quite a heavily entrenched function with inside these enterprises. And I think at the other end of the spectrum, you’ve still got a handful of organizations that are running quite lean teams and I think there’s quite a big desire for them to be able to get support from their senior leaders, to actually invest in more head counts that they can adequately manage the new complex that has been brought into the business.
[00:14:41.650] – Edward Taylor
Because I think the danger is that you can roll out new technology in a short space of time if you’ve got a well supported IT team sort of helping you get everything up and running. But the sort of long term management and sort of extracting that value is something that you need dedicated resource to be able to manage. And I think there are a couple of other organizations in the member meeting who highlighted that they’ve recruited dedicated resources to manage analytics. Looking at all the internal data points and I think you touched very much on the sort of measurement side of things and I think that particular business recognises the importance and value of having dedicated analytics resource that can provide insights, can help support decision-making when it comes to further strengthening the capabilities of a digital workplace for a large scale organization. So certainly a lot of change happening. I think there’s a lot of decisions that need to be made as everyone starts to sort of map out what sort of capabilities they want to build to deliver what resources they need to be able to manage it over a longer period of time.
[00:15:45.180] – Edward Taylor
So it’s certainly an exciting period in sort of the sort of evolution of digital workplaces and as the term you referred to as the employee experience is certainly one that’s gathering a lot of pace as well.
[00:15:57.610] – Nancy Goebel
Absolutely. And then on the resource front, the other topic that got a fair amount of airtime, especially in the smaller group discussions, was the idea that there is certainly a shortage of qualified talent in and around the digital workplace as well as organizations at large. And one of the extendors from a resource planning point of view that’s taking on added importance is building cadres of citizen developers. And as an extension of the governance discussions, how do you manage those colleagues and the outputs of the work that they’re doing, whether that’s coming through enterprise sponsored hackathons or day-to-day activities and ensure that all the right things are happening for applications and tools and capabilities that citizen developers are bringing forward into the portfolio? So we know that that’s something that we anticipated when Paul and I published our predictions for the digital workplace this year. And now we’re starting to see a real focus around ensuring that that space gets managed properly as it grows quickly for quite a few organizations going forward as well.
[00:17:25.250] – Edward Taylor
And it certainly will grow quickly with the sort of introduction of sort of low code, no code solutions and services that sort of opens up the possibility for those citizen developers to really start sort of feeding into that. And I think that in itself sort of creates a real need to be able to manage effective governance because there’s no doubt that with the sort of right subject matter experts across these enterprises being able to actually develop services and solutions that can have value to we’re looking at measurements. As an example, it would be quite valuable to be able to sort of get information from a factory floor or a distribution centre or whatever element of your organization is relatively unique. It’s always good to be able to get a handle on what’s actually happening at the grassroots level and so empowering both citizens and developers to be able to sort of actually identify that information and sort of disseminate it across the business in a useful manner. It’s certainly something that’s going to be very important, but I always think it comes back to that sort of governance sort of challenge of can we sort of get hold of that information at a broader level and make sure it’s shared across the business so that its value isn’t just sort of couched in one particular function in the business, it’s actually shared across the whole enterprise.
[00:18:37.520] – Edward Taylor
So I think I’m a big fan of governance, as you’ll probably know, but it’s certainly ones that I think businesses need to be taken quite seriously, that you do need resources in place that can sort of help, sort of move people along in the right way and provide the necessary levels of support and training so they can get the best out of these new tools and services as they start to get rolled out.
[00:18:58.870] – Nancy Goebel
Yeah, absolutely. And I think the other area that we explored a bit that was quite important is that when those of us who have been around for a while started in the digital workplace arena, there was a very heavy emphasis on rolling out tools and capabilities to help people get stuff done and be productive. But increasingly, digital workplace teams need to be centred or grounded around making change happen because things are moving so quickly on a technological level and external factors like Covid were equally accelerators for the pace of change. Being able to help teams navigate things more fluidly and become adaptive to continuous change has taken on added importance. And also the role of digital inclusion is really starting to take hold and thinking about all of the different elements, from accessibility up through cognitive thinking, not just accommodating employees who may have visual challenges or auditory challenges, but a wider set of circumstances to ensure that people can work not only anytime, anywhere, but under any sort of circumstances that are in play. And so you really do start to see that the digital workplace as a focus is branching out to a very diverse mix of required skill sets as well as influence inside of the organizations.
[00:20:57.070] – Nancy Goebel
In the coming weeks, we’ll be talking about digital inclusion and the daisy chain from digital workplace to client facing capabilities to the wider communities. We know that that’s another area that will get continued focus the second half of this year, well into next year and beyond. So the member meetings are always a great window into the trends that we’ll be seeing across our wider industry circles. And I know that we’ve just covered one aspect of the meeting and that’s really what we all took away from the live benchmarking. What other things were grounding points for conversation Ed?I
[00:21:44.280] – Edward Taylor
I think it was obviously we were hosted by Nancy Maloney and Kerry O’Donnell from Estée Lauder, and it was great for them to be able to share the journey that they’ve been going on and actually give the participants in the room a really detailed insight into the journey that they’ve been on in terms of iterating their digital workplace, and building upon the sort of Unily platform that they’ve chosen at Estée Lauder to deliver a much more sophisticated digital workplace for their whole organization. And I think a lot of people got a lot of value out of that and it’s certainly very clear to see that there’s been a lot of hard work that’s fed into the end product. Estée Lauder and I think there’s a lot of learnings from those in the room that were earlier stages of their journey to sort of say, right, well, this is where the bar has been moved to and I think that’s one of the more refreshing things that you get to see with the member meetings is that when you’ve got a host organization that can sort of demonstrate elements of best practice within their own digital workplace, it really helps the organizations in the room get a feel for what might be possible within their own enterprises.
[00:22:53.510] – Edward Taylor
So I think there’s a huge lot of value that people get from that and obviously you’ve got the sort of individuals that led those programmes in the room so we were able to ask lots of questions and really get into the granular level detail, not just about the capability of the technology. Kerry and Nancy highlighted the functionality of Unily, particularly around their mobile capabilities that created quite a lot of interest in the session, but also getting an understanding to kind of the resources profile and the challenges that they had around managing multilingual, looking at onboarding and looking at sort of general content ownership across an organization. That has quite a big challenge when it comes to the different audience groups and the different languages that they have to support and that will cover it in a moment, I imagine, when we discussed the round tables. But I think that whole session sort of learning from our host organizations is really valuable.
[00:23:52.260] – Nancy Goebel
Yeah and I think importantly, it’s not only getting a window into the overall strategy and approach, but really being able to see live what the experience is like. And in this case it was all about enabling, employee engagement and productivity.
[00:24:10.670] – Edward Taylor
Yeah, and I think it was a really good insight into sort of see the core areas that they’re trying to sort of support people with. And I know they’ve made huge strides to sort of develop capabilities around personalisation and targeting so the different functions inside their organization can get access to the content that they need and as you say, be more productive and be more engaged with the information that’s been shared. And I think there’s also with an organization like Estée Lauder, they’ve got some really interesting sort of elements to the way that they approach their work in terms of their history. They’ve been around for a very long time, they were set up by Estée Lauder and I think they’ve got some quite interesting sort of charitable activities that are going on there that really helps add value to the sort of cultural sort of approach at Estée Lauder and I think they’ve done a lot to help sort of share that information with their end user so that if you’re new to Estée Lauder you can sort of get on boarded in a way that sort of gets you access to all of their sort of rich history and culture and get you sort of bought into the business, which I think is a topic that digital workplaces are sort of edging closer towards playing a much more hands on role in being able to sort of articulate and sort of build upon the cultural values of large organizations and help people sort of get up to speed with what they’re really about and what their sort of goals and objectives are.
[00:25:37.430] – Nancy Goebel
And you mentioned something about round tables. What can we take away from those specific conversations that happened in smaller group settings?
[00:25:48.770] – Edward Taylor
Yeah, I mean, the round tables themselves are really useful because it allows the host organization, if they want to, to actually set particular topics to be discussed as we sort of break people into the smaller groups. And so the topics that the team at Estée Lord has selected was supporting multilingual needs and content. That second table is all about what’s new in digital workplace onboarding and I think that was the main emphasis of that table, is about sharing the work that Estée Lauder has been doing on that front, but also learning from what other organizations may have been doing. And the final part of the round table session was supporting global decentralised content ownership. And obviously you can imagine with an organization like Estée Lauder, with them being global, they do have to have sort of a decentralised approach to sort of creating and curating content because they just can’t manage that at a sort of a global level because they’ve got markets all around the world. The actual table that I sat on was supporting multilingual. And I guess the team at Estée Lauder sort of found that quite refreshing because it sort of validated some of their own concerns about the ability for current systems to actually accurately handle translation of different languages.
[00:27:05.930] – Edward Taylor
And we were joined by a number of organizations, predominantly from financial services, who again had global presences around the world. And I guess the general observation that I took away from that particular session was that there’s still a hell of a lot more work to be done on the ability to sort of accurately translate from an automated standpoint, content from English into Chinese or Spanish, for example. That sort of gave rise to an emphasis on trying to recruit in a clever way and making sure that you’re recruiting sort of bilingual individuals into teams so that they can be used in a tactical manner, which is one way of approaching it. I know that one of the financial services business relies heavily upon external third parties to provide translation and I think part of the reason why automation hasn’t been adopted as quickly as you might think is that there’s a real sort of conscious awareness from these organizations to make sure that if content is being translated, the sort of intent of the content and what’s been trying to be articulated to those end users in those other market is received in the way it was intended when it was originally written.
[00:28:19.510] – Edward Taylor
So I think it’s more to do with the respect that people are sharing to their counterparts in other countries and speaking other languages that they want to make sure that they are sort of dealing with them in the right way. So that was my insight. Did you sit on one of the tables?
[00:28:34.340] – Nancy Goebel
Yeah, I sat in on the conversation around governance and we talked a lot about what it takes to be able to manage things from the centre and what needs to happen to get the global local balance right so that you’re enabling local content providers to play a role in helping to surface those all important stories of success, business challenges and key things that people need to know that are happening on a local level and thinking about the importance of extending the principles around putting the employee experience at the centre for content as much as designing the experiences. And that proximity to what’s happening with staff is really an important anchor point to drive the focus of the content day to day so that people understand what they need to think, feel and do as a result of information that’s being shared across the digital plane, so to speak, but then also looking at how different content types need to come together, whether it’s video content, podcasting content, written editorial content, social engagement and collaboration. So it’s very tricky territory to manage and as the digital workplace continues to grow, teams at the centre need to be able to provide stewardship so that the local content providers can be empowered to share the right information day to day at the same time as corporate content being delivered.
[00:30:31.730] – Nancy Goebel
That works in tandem and we developed a checklist of good practice that has been shared with the meeting resources based on the collective input from the team. But we also spun up ideas for three separate asked DWG sessions that will be staging into the fall. So conversation starts in the room but then it gives us a real focus on where we need to facilitate ongoing conversation with the online sessions that we’re running day to day with our members as well.
[00:31:07.970] – Edward Taylor
And I think that’s one of the beauties of having getting everyone together in a member meeting setting is that it helps us sort of queue up content that we know is of abundant value to those participants and it helps us sort of really refine the content that we’re producing so that we know that we are getting people the right information. I think that again is one of the valuable things that we get out of the member meetings as it helps us make sure that we are on point with the right sort of content to help meet the needs and requirements of our members, not necessarily just in the room but also the 70 other organizations that form our member base. So I think those sessions are really powerful and you kind of think 20 minutes worth of round table has resulted in quite a heavy volume of content being produced that again provides huge amounts of insights and is validated and fed into by relevant individuals who are right at the front line with dealing with some of these challenges.
[00:32:06.130] – Nancy Goebel
Absolutely. And the other thing that I think is worth mentioning is that because we plan those round tables with the member host, one of the things that affords us the opportunity to do is tap the DWG team to curate resources that we can share as takeaways for those conversations as well, so that we’re really linking not only the conversation that’s happening and sharing the good practices and recommended thinking points coming out of the conversation specifically, but then also giving members resources that they can dip into after the event so that they can continue their own learning and bring those messages back to their teams as well as planning those follow on sessions.
[00:32:59.090] – Edward Taylor
I couldn’t agree more and I think it’s another sort of value add points of sort of the member meetings is that it’s that sort of learning that people are getting as part of it and then obviously the continued learning that we’re providing by producing that additional content. So I think people do get a lot of value and insights out of those sessions.
[00:33:18.900] – Nancy Goebel
For sure DWG did something highly unusual as part of this two day event. Tell us a little bit about what was unique and special.
[00:33:30.120] – Edward Taylor
Looking at the venues that we’ve got, I think that creates a lot of value. We were in New York, it was great food, which is always a good thing. And I think what was quite unique is that just the sort of camaraderie that you can have with people outside of the sessions that are sort of formal and part of the agenda. I have so many useful conversations with people who went around the room and sort of sense checking with the content on point and with people getting what they want. And it was just really refreshing to be able to get insights from people and sort of have that sort of one to one interaction with different leaders from different organizations. And I think what was also quite nice is just the way that we as DWG representatives able to introduce people to different organizations and allow them to have conversations around particular topics and challenges. So taking those insights from the benchmarking live and sort of doing the cross pollination of sort of introducing people is really valuable and helping them get insights. So I think that’s really useful. Obviously we shared Paul did a really interesting session on our sort of trends and milestones over the last 20 years because I think one of the big things I don’t think we’ve mentioned yet is that this member meeting also coincided very nicely with our 20th anniversary celebrations for DWG.
[00:34:47.150] – Edward Taylor
So Paul was able to provide some insights and milestones over the last 20 years of working with DWG and the work that we’ve done over the last 20 years. So from my perspective, I’ve only been in the business for eight years or so. I can’t remember how many you are up to?
[00:35:06.890] – Nancy Goebel
Up to 15. Hard to believe.
[00:35:08.080] – Edward Taylor
15. There you go. So you’re a bit further down the road than I am. But again, it’s sort of amazing to sort of see how the business has been able to sort of iterate and evolve from sort of starting off very much in the intranet world and now sort of evolving into sort of the digital workplace group and sort of focusing on a broader set of services and capabilities. And I think Paul starts to sort of touch upon more of the work around the Nature of Work book that he himself and Shimrit published, which again is sort of looking more around the interactions of people, the environment that they’re working within, the systems that they’re using, from the perspective of being a living organism. And so I think that again, shows that DWG as an organization is really focused on making sure that we as a business is sort of iterating and evolving as the sort of environment that we work in, sort of changes and evolves as well. So it’s important that we’re able to constantly bring new insights and sort of move in the right way. What things do you spy that you thought of particular interest to you, Nancy?
[00:36:15.290] – Nancy Goebel
Well, in terms of the 20th anniversary celebration, of course, that added a special note to the two days. If you break down days one and two, respectively, day one allowed us to reflect on everything that we’ve accomplished as an industry over the 20 years that DWG has been in play. And day two was really all about looking ahead to digital workplace 2025 and the importance that things like beauty and space and intelligence will all have as we continue to evolve into the digital workplace of the future. And of course, we had something quite unique that we did as part of the member meeting experience and that was to launch a technology lab. And for those who have been around DWG circles for 20 years that we’ve been in play, would know that we have historically had a vendor neutral setting for our members to come together. But for some time now, just as they did before we launched into consulting, our members have said to us that getting deeper, richer insights into what’s happening on the technology side or the capability side of the digital workplace is important to them. So let’s talk a little bit about the tech lab.
[00:37:52.490] – Edward Taylor
Yes, the tech lab is an idea that came about probably about two years ago now, which is feels like a long time ago and obviously we have to change a few things as a result of Covid. But the real intent with the DWG technology labs was to bring our practitioner audiences, both within our member world, but also the sort of broader practitioner groups that follow us through our publicly available channels, be it through LinkedIn, our website, podcast, et cetera, et cetera. We wanted to sort of give them an opportunity to get insights into vendors that have a strong track record in organizations that are of similar size and reach to our members. So Fortune 500 organizations put to 100 type businesses and we wanted to sort of allow them to get those insights in an environment that was hosted by DWG. And so over the course of the Covid period into 2021, we were able to launch tech labs that were delivered online and we had a variety of organizations and technology providers talking about some of the projects that they’ve been doing, but the intention was always to be able to do in person sessions for the tech labs and obviously this time in June 2022 were able to get back together and add it as part of a half day session with the member meeting in New York.
[00:39:22.890] – Edward Taylor
And I think one thing to sort of clarify is that DWG, as you say, we’re very much on technology agnostic side of things and want to make sure that members are always able to get the insights that they need and can make informed decisions and choices about what they do. And so the key element with the sort of tech labs is that we have sort of a no financial incentive programme with these organizations. It’s very much about allowing them a platform to share their services and capabilities with those members and practitioners and really allow them to make their own decisions on what might be the best solutions for their organizations. And so at the tech lab that we’re able to host in New York, we were joined by five different organizations BeeZee, Interact, Unily, Workgrid and tyGraph, and we’re able to sort of rotate groups of around five to six people around the room and they got to meet each of those different organizations. And I think what was quite interesting in terms of some of the insights was that the practitioners obviously valued the opportunity to sort of get to grips with different types of technologies in the room and sort of understand their capabilities in a bit more detail.
[00:40:39.060] – Edward Taylor
Some organizations are already clients of these businesses, so it was nice to catch up with experts and practitioners from those organizations so that they could get a handle on the road map and changes and updates that might be coming down the pipeline. But it’s also quite interesting to sort of see some leaders sort of knowing full well that they were never going to be able to implement some of these technologies because of pre-existing commitments to other services. But it did give them insight that they could then go to their current provider and say, I’ve just seen XYZ capability from this particular organization. I want you to try and replicate that. So it was sort of quite a nice journey to go through. I think there were a few sort of concerns at DWG that it was going to be sort of too noisy or whatever, but I think the room was the perfect size and speaking to the organizations that are presenting that wasn’t a problem. Perhaps we sort of forced people to really focus in on the topics and discussions that were taking place and that ran for a half day and I know one of our colleagues who hosted the session best went to every single one of those sessions, found it sort of really valuable and sort of a really good opportunity to sort of get to grips with lots of different technologies.
[00:41:46.050] – Edward Taylor
And I think that’s just another example of how we as an organization at DWG is looking to sort of evolve and iterate the sort of services and offerings that we can bring to the table and I think providing more content around the different technologies that fall within this ever evolving space of the digital workplace is super important because you step back and look at the different technologies that were just featured in that session, you’ve got organizations providing different sort of capabilities across different areas, so I think it’s really useful to get those insights.
[00:42:19.700] – Nancy Goebel
Yeah, I think that’s really well said. So ultimately it was a window of opportunity to see different technologies in action, to understand what the emerging trends are as well as core capabilities that are readily available today, to link that with members who have got the experience firsthand with some of these different capabilities and also to hear some really smart questions being asked from other members in the room because it’s all about the peer learning experience and figuring out how to get ahead of the blind spots that do come up day to day because things are changing so rapidly in our space.
[00:43:02.750] – Edward Taylor
It also helped, from our perspective, validate that we’re providing content that people want to hear as well because I think it was new for us and we were very pleasantly surprised that the reaction was resoundingly positive from the organizations that participated in it. So we’ll be very much looking forward to hopefully running something similar when we get our sort of member meeting up and running in London in September.
[00:43:28.930] – Nancy Goebel
Terrific. And so, of course, any good celebration has some special takeaways and I know that DWG unveiled a new piece of research at the end of the two day event. Can you tell us a bit about that?
[00:43:44.410] – Edward Taylor
Sure, yeah. Our colleague and very well regarded analyst Steve Bynghall has produced a report called Viva, Teams or Sharepoint: Understanding How They Fit Together, which I think is a very timely piece of research that is sort of leveraging a number of different case studies from different organizations and sort of helping people sort of really get to grips with how you might want to plan a deployment of those three different services and how they all might want to sort of work together and sort of start to get a better perspective on what best practice might be. If you’re an organization looking at the three services around Viva, Teams and Sharepoint. Because I think if you’re looking at it from, sort a relatively mature base, it could probably be very daunting to sort of get to groups with how you actually get the best out of those individual platforms and then how do you actually then sort of merge that into a more cohesive experience where each of those different services are playing to their strength. So I think there’s a lot to learn from that research and I think Steve has sort of been able to leverage some interesting case study examples from organizations like Avanade, BCD Travel and an organization that we’ve worked closely with called Play’n GO on the membership site.
[00:45:00.610] – Edward Taylor
So, really interesting piece of research. I mean, just looking at the programme that we’ve already done in 2022, we’ve been quite busy and we’re sort of just over the halfway mark for research, but we’ve already published, we’ve got 1, 2, 3, 4 – 4 individual pieces of research that covers hybrid work, reimagined that, and has been very popular. We’ve also been looking at understanding business intelligence and sort of helping people get to grips with business intelligence, which touches on that whole sort of analytics and measurement piece and the wider sort of organizational strategy and how that can support it. And then again, another area that was really interesting, that was written by a colleague of ours, Patrick Bergman, called Connected learning: How the digital workplace supports the learning organization, which I think, again, ties in very neatly to that point you made about sort of the need for organizations to be able to deal with change on a regular basis. And so making sure that your organization can learn and sort of get the best out of those technologies is going to be really important. And then the final piece of research was looking at sort of five year trends from the DWG Awards that were launched in 2007.
[00:46:09.370] – Edward Taylor
So this is just looking at sort of our back catalogue of some of the best digital workplaces that we’ve observed over the last five years and sort of taking out some key highlights and observations that we’ve taken from that. And I think that starts to then show everybody at a high level where the maturity has been growing across different disciplines and capabilities over the last five years, which will no doubt continue to accelerate and move into other more complex ways. So, yeah, very busy, I think.
[00:46:36.730] – Nancy Goebel
For sure. And of course, the report that we released as part of the member meeting marked our hundredth research report since the inception of DWG. So that equally felt like an important milestone as part of our 20th anniversary celebration.
[00:46:56.990] – Edward Taylor
I think our director of Research, Dr. Elizabeth Marsh, deserves a huge round of applause for that because that is a hell of an achievement. And having written just one research paper for Elizabeth, I can sort of highlight that she’s very rigorous in the types of research that we undertake and it certainly reminded me of going back to my university days of trying to write a dissertation. So I think Elizabeth needs a lot of credit for the sort of high standards that she maintains in our research because they are exceptionally well regarded by our members and anybody who gets to sort of interact with them.
[00:47:34.370] – Nancy Goebel
And of course, this was the first of two in person member meetings planned this year, with lots of things happening virtually in between. But the 20th anniversary celebration continues into September in London and that will be on the 14th and 15th. Tell us a little bit about that.
[00:47:55.870] – Edward Taylor
I’m delighted about to say that we’re working with the lovely Susan Quain at Fidelity International. She’s going to be hosting us for the member meeting in London, is going to be taking place on the 14th and 15th September, as we did in New York. There will be an opportunity for a tech lab probably on the afternoon of the 15th September. So we’d certainly encourage members who are local to London or able to fly in from anywhere in the world to join us in London. And if you’re sort of new to the podcast or have been a listener for a while and you’re interested in joining us, a guest, do feel free to get in touch with us through our website, where there’s a page under our events section. You’ll be able to make a request to join us as a guest and we’d be very happy to have people join as part of that and sort of see us in action at a London member meeting. But I think it’s really something to be excited about because I know this will be the first time that we’ve been to London in a long time. I think the last time we were in London for a member meeting was 2019, which feels a very long time ago.
[00:48:59.950] – Nancy Goebel
It does, for sure, but we look forward to more great conversations, content and connection as part of the September session and that helps us continue to extend that 20th anniversary celebration. But in between, our marketing team has launched a phenomenal blog series, around 20 perspectives for 20 years. So we’ll make sure that we include that in the show notes, along with the link to the application for a guest place for the London member meeting. And of course, our members can just dip into the extranet to get more specifics about that session as well. And what have we missed in our final moments together, Ed? We’ve covered a lot of territory.
[00:49:51.240] – Edward Taylor
I don’t know, I think we’ve covered a lot of ground. I was sort of looking at my notes and going. Yeah, I think we’ve done a pretty thorough job. I think it’s just sort of say that I think having just spent I think we’ve probably talked for over 40 minutes, it just goes to show how much ground gets covered over two days. And I know that we always joke about the fact that member meetings look quite daunting and sort of take a lot of time to organise and I think people could come out of it the other end, but they go so quickly and I think that’s probably one of the nicest things when we’re putting these together, that we have a very good time at member meetings. And I think people come there with a lot of positivity and leave with lots of ideas and sort of hopefully have sort of an energising effect on the work that they’re doing and sort of feel sort of really focused on the months ahead because it’s clear from the benchmarking live session that we did, people are very busy. So I think being able to take two days out of their schedules to sort of get a bit of a boost, some insights from other organizations, have a bit of fun outside of the agenda on a social level is really valuable to everybody who gets to participate in their member meeting.
[00:51:01.990] – Nancy Goebel
Well, that’s a great closing thought for our time together, Ed. You know, it’s always a pleasure to have a chance to catch up with you, and to do that with the backdrop of talking about takeaways from our latest in person member meeting was just great fodder for conversation. So thank you for taking some time out of your schedule to catch up.
[00:51:26.030] – Edward Taylor
Not a problem.
[00:51:26.860] – Nancy Goebel
Hopefully we can do this again after September in London.
[00:51:30.930] – Edward Taylor
I should think so, I should think so.
[00:51:35.210] – Nancy Goebel
Digital Workplace Impact is brought to you by the Digital Workplace Group. DWG is a strategic partner covering all aspects of the evolving digital workplace industry, not only through membership, but also benchmarking and boutique consulting services. For more information, visit digitalworkplacegroup.com.
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