Winner of Digital Workplace of the Year 2019 – American Express

August 14, 2019 Updated: July 11, 2022 by
The excitement in the room was palpable at the DW Experience conference in Chicago as Gary Kensey, Vice President of Digital Workplace at American Express, stepped up to the podium to accept the prestigious award for Digital Workplace of the Year 2019 from DWG CEO Paul Miller. The Awards are produced by DWG in partnership with SMG/CMSWire, and celebrate organizations and practitioners who have excelled this year in creating well-executed, high-performing digital workplace environments. Now in its third year, the 2019 awards attracted an impressive and diverse set of entries from around the world and across different sectors. However, American Express really stood out from the rest for our judges this year – with high scores across the criteria, but most especially for strategy and governance, business case and user engagement.  DWG CEO Paul Miller commented after presenting the award to the team in Chicago: “American Express has both a remarkable team and approach. It not only has a strong global team at all levels but also employs a unique methodology – ingesting the best from what others are doing, but always viewed through the lens of Amex and the particular character of the company, its values and beliefs.” 

Getting strategy and governance Oh So Right!

The judges were particularly impressed by the strength of the American Express digital workplace strategy, as well as the robust governance (both operational and strategic) that underpins it. Their approach includes:
  • A strategy that is ambitious yet firmly focused on improving people’s working lives through colleague experiences referred to as “journeys” – all brought together in a one-page “Digital Workplace Strategy Placemat” for simplicity.
  • The team have also articulated very clear outcomes that they’re seeking in terms of organizational goals and colleague experience, as well as putting in place a solid measurement approach to track progress.
  • In terms of day-to-day governance, there are robust operational mechanisms in place, along with scorecards to track progress. There’s also a “Digital Workplace Playbook”, which provides resources on how to create and manage products.
  • Strategic governance reaches right up to the C-Suite, with a cross-enterprise steering group of senior stakeholders to ensure there is an holistic approach across digital, physical and cultural aspects of colleague experience.

Putting colleague experience front and centre

The American Express entry also stood out for the team’s relentless focus on improving colleagues’ lives through the digital workplace experience. In fact, in the 2018 awards, it won a Digital Workplace of the Year award for User Engagement, underlining the fact that this is a sustained programme of work. The judges’ comments say it all in this area, including noting the: “Impressive description of the strategy reboot and how the user is placed at the centre of this” and “Great user engagement which includes multiple methods of feedback, usability, research and an early adopter community.” As well as involving more than 1,200 colleagues in the “Strategy Reboot”, the team keep them front and centre throughout the digital workplace lifecycle using a variety of approaches:
  • a “Voice of the Customer Lab” to refresh the strategy
  • storyboards and journey canvasses
  • a UX Center of Excellence, with a focus on exceptional digital experiences
  • a global 1,000+ member Early Adopter Community
  • beta-to-pilot process to engage colleagues through focus groups, interviews and social channels
  • “Global Technology Concierges” to ensure local feedback is fed into ongoing developments.
These engagement efforts not only sound impressive, they are having a real impact on colleague experiences (for example, for journeys relating to running meetings and finding information) as measured by adoption scorecards.

The right digital workplace for the organization

It’s not just that the American Express team have shown they’re really good at the digital workplace – they’ve also demonstrated that they’re doing this in their own unique way which suits their business, culture and people. They’ve also proved that they’re continuing to evolve over time: the award for User Engagement last year, followed by winning the overall Digital Workplace of the Year 2019 is a strong endorsement of the team’s ongoing work. It also tells a great story in terms of the benefits of user engagement! In 2020, perhaps your organization could be a winner? Look out on our website for entries opening early 2020. Read these blogs to help you enter:  RESEARCH AND RESOURCES 


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Categorised in: Digital workplace, Digital Workplace of the Year Awards

Elizabeth Marsh

Director of Research

Elizabeth Marsh is DWG’s Director of Research and author of its latest report ‘Digital workplace overload: How to reduce employee technostress’ (available free on our website). She’s worked as a practitioner, researcher and consultant in the digital workplace field for over 20 years and is a strong advocate for digital literacy and digital wellbeing at work. Elizabeth is currently doing a PhD at the University of Nottingham focusing on employee technostress and the potential of mindfulness to help reduce it. She also co-authored – with Paul Miller – the book ‘The Digital Renaissance of Work: Delivering digital workplaces fit for the future’.

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