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OFFICE 365 33 MIN READ

Evolving in the Digital Workplace Together

Gabrielle Lafontaine
WRITTEN BY GABRIELLE LAFONTAINE
Evolving in the Digital Workplace Together

Technology is changing the world.

It’s changing the way we interact with each other, blurring the lines between our physical and digital selves. It’s had a huge impact on our personal lives, with new apps and devices popping up for everything from food delivery, to dating, and more.

Consequently, it’s also changing the way we work. Technology is empowering employees with the tools and processes we need to get our jobs done. Essentially, the rise of Internet and cloud services has triggered a revolution in the workplace, where collaboration, communication, and productivity are no longer linked to physical workspaces or time zones.

The seamless, integrated, collaboration and productivity tools on the market now are breaking down communication barriers, allowing knowledge to be shared at an unprecedented pace, and are making it easier than ever to forge business relationships.

This revolution is called "the digital workplace".

We’ve collected the thoughts of some of the most influential Microsoft MVPs in the industry on the subject of the "Digital Workplace". We asked them three questions each:

  1. Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

  2. Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

  3. In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

You’ll find in the following article little nuggets of wisdom that will hopefully challenge the way you see the "Digital Workplace" and its impact on your organization.


Participating Microsoft MVPs


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Benjamin Niaulin @bniaulin

Product Manager at Sharegate

Benjamin Niaulin

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

The Digital Workplace, a concept that has been getting a lot of attention these days. Not to be confused with "Digital Transformation", which I believe to be very different.

To me, the Digital Workplace is really about rethinking how we work and where we work. Blurring the lines between the physical workplace, regular office hours and where work actually gets done.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

I think Office 365 is increasingly leading organizations to this change, forcing them to ask themselves difficult questions.

With things like Office 365 Groups, which gives people all the tools they need to get the work done on any device, is one way of doing it. Of course, this includes more than SharePoint or Microsoft Teams... it's really about democratizing some of these services as well.

Effectively changing our traditional workplace into more of a... Digital Workplace.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

I don't think we've heard the last of it, though I don't doubt we may hear about it under different names.

With technology moving at the pace it is today, organizations will be faced with important challenges. Ones that aren't always planned either! I expect we will see a lot of struggle for those IT teams not embracing this change soon.

Back to list of Microsoft MVPs

Vlad Catrinescu @vladcatrinescu

President at vNext Solutions

Vlad Catrinescu

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

The Digital Workplace is a collection of tools that allows to be more productive and to get the job done. Those tools must be integrated, so users do not have to switch context and lose productivity when switching from one app to the other, and they must also be accessible from any device, anywhere in the world.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

In my opinion, Office 365 answers the challenges of the Digital Workplace of today, and it keeps evolving to shape the Digital Workplace of tomorrow.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

The next step in the Digital Workplace is definitely Artifical Intelligence. We've already started seeing this with Bots in Teams, but in the future, Artificial Intelligence will shape how we work, and help us become even more productive.

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Eric Overfield @EricOverfield

President at PixelMill

Eric Overfield

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

A paperless, collaborative work environment that provides anytime, anywhere access.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

Absolutely, the bones are there and the tools get us closer to the end goal. There is room for improvement on guidance and best practices though.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

A combination of AI and machine learning, with an interface through bot frameworks, that provides workers with the shortest path to the resources they seek.

Back to list of Microsoft MVPs

Antonio Maio @antoniomaio2

Enterprise Architect & Senior Manager at Provitivi

Antonio Maio

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

To me, the Digital Workplace means a destination in cyberspace, that I go to everyday, which presents me with the most relevant information I need to get my job done. Its a place where I'm confident that I can quickly find data that's most important to me, where I know that data is secure, where I can easily connect with other people and where I can easily automate tasks that I do all the time.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

Office 365 does respond to daily challenges we see in the Digital Workplace!

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

What I'd like to see next are better options for connecting more disparate line of business systems into the Digital Workplace, as well as built-in support for more complex policies and workflows. If we can bring more of our currently disconnected systems into the Digital Workplace, and automate more complex policies and workflows, it will be better positioned to service our day-to-day needs.

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Richard Harbridge @RHarbridge

Chief Technology Officer at 2toLead

Richard Harbridge

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

The Digital Workplace is a term we use to describe the places and tools users use to perform their work digitally. Within a Digital Workplace you will typically find a digital hub (Intranet/Portal), digital collaboration spaces (Departmental Sites, Functional Areas, Meetings & Teams), and digital solutions (Extranets, Business Process & Forms Automation, etc.)

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

Yes. Not only does it respond to these challenges, but with integration and planning, it can help many organizations meet challenges that exist today and in their future. In other words, it enables our organizations to be more responsive.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

Organizations are focused on getting the "infrastructure" in place. Social collaboration and networking? Check. Modern integrated digital hub/Intranet? Check. But over time they will begin focusing on improving worker outcomes through digital enhancement or optimization. By focusing on adoption (education and optimization) as well as using new intelligence provided by their Digital Workplace (Office 365 Audit Logs, Workplace Analytics, etc.) worker productivity, impact, and capability will be increased to better compete and meet industry demands.

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Susan Hanley @susanhanley

Consultant at Susan Hanley LLC

Susan Hanley

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

The Digital Workplace provides an experience for getting work done through the use of connected devices, software and interfaces that are relevant for each person.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

Many of them. But supplemental software and connections are likely to be required to realize all of the potential opportunities that comprise the Digital Workplace.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

More seamless connections; more integrated experiences; more consistent experiences on different devices.

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John White @diverdown1964

Chief Technology Officer & Co-Founder at tyGraph

John White

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

For me, it's another buzzword. It means the same as e-business did in the '90s.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

It certainly does much better than any other product suite in the market. It doesn't respond to all of them, but the things it does, it does fairly well, and more importantly, those things are relatively well integrated.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

I feel that integration is key. The more products diversify, the greater the need for solid integration. Products like Flow and Power BI really bring this home. With integration we really can have best-of-breed without sacrificing interconnectedness.

One area that shows off integration is AI and machine learning, which is also making its presence felt now in the workplace. Without integration, AI can neither learn, nor predict.

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Chris Johnson @c_f_johnson

Chief Technology Officer at Hyperfish

Chris Johnson

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

A Digital Workplace to me personally is one where someone can work from anywhere, at any time, on their terms and that it is a 1st class experience.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

Yes! A key factor in a Digital Workplace is access to their communication and collaboration tools from anywhere in the world. With Office 365 I can get my work done just as easily from a beach in Mexico, as I can from my office desk in Seattle.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

People need to be able to communicate from across the globe as easily as they do in person. With the advances in augmented reality, I can see some big advances coming in remote communication within the Digital Workplace.

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Mark Rackley @mrackley

Chief Strategy Officer at PAIT Group

Mark Rackley

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

To me, a true digital workplace means that I can do my job anywhere, anytime, on any device. I can be effective on my phone or my computer to easily and quickly do my day-to-day tasks.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

Office 365 overwhelmingly responds to the challenges that arise from the Digital Workplace. With apps like Teams, PowerApps, Flow and the new Communications sites, my options for getting the content I need and collaborating with peers is continually growing. This also creates the challenge of staying on top of the ever-changing landscape to ensure I'm taking advantage of the right tool for the job.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

I see continued improvements and added functionality to the current suite of apps, enabling companies to get off of dying technology like SharePoint Designer and InfoPath, and eventually SharePoint Classic sites while at the same time providing a better mobile experience.

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Jasper Oosterveld @jasoosterveld

Consultant at InSpark

Jasper Oosterveld

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

The Digital Workplace makes my work days easier, efficient and overall more fun. I can use the tools I need to get my work done anywhere, anytime and on any device.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

Microsoft facilitates the Digital Workplace with Office 365. Office 365 contains the tools & services necessary, allowing people to get the job done.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

The next phase is intelligence and bots. Providing me with relevant content & people for my work activities. Bots should make my work days even more efficient, by providing me with answers to my questions and executing basic tasks.

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Maarten Eekels @maarteneekels

Chief Technology Officer at Portiva

Maarten Eekels

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

The Digital Workplace is the set of tools that help an employee to get their job done. These tools are not just software, they are devices, physical workplaces, and work times too. These four pillars need to be geared to one another for the Digital Workplace to really work.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

To some extent, yes! Office 365 provides the right software tools for a compelling Digital Workplace, and makes it possible to access these tools from any device, anyplace, anytime.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

We need to start realizing that a truly compelling Digital Workplace is more than "just" software. We need to start embedding physical workplaces and work times as well. The office, whether that being the kitchen table at home or a fancy office space on the 40th floor, is part of our physical workplace, so part of our digital workplace too. Also, the interaction between employees seems to shift to higher gears all the time. We expect high velocity in our conversations, but we need to be able to spend focusing, too. That differentiation should be part of our digital workplace.

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Adis Jugo @adisjugo

Director of Product Technology at Skybow

Adis Jugo

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

It is a workplace where all I need for work is someone else's computer.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

For the most part, yes.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

Powerful mobile devices which can turn into computers.

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Sean P McDonough @spmcdonough

Chief Technology Officer at Bitstream Foundry LLC

Sean McDonough

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

To me, the Digital Workplace means working with complete location and equipment transparency. My tools are likely in the cloud, and I can sit down at any computer with an Internet connection and be productive. This means my office can be anywhere, too. The Digital Workplace makes the distance between co-workers largely irrelevant, because they connect and collaborate online.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

Absolutely! Office 365 is filled to the brim with the tools of the Digital Workplace. The Office Suite of tools can still be installed on a workstation, and installing from the Office 365 Portal is a snap with click-to-run. If you want a minimal footprint on your workstation, the Office Web Applications give you the lion's share of Office functionality from the equivalent of a web page.

Combining the Office suite with tools like Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, and SharePoint enable numerous collaboration scenarios and address key productivity tasks. And that's even before you factor in the numerous other Office 365 tools like OneDrive for Business, Planner, Yammer, PowerApps, Flow, and more!

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

With all of its tools, Office 365 represents an impressive set of capabilities and a phenomenal value. What I see coming next is the integration of all these tools more seamlessly and effectively. Microsoft has made great progress on this already, but a critical component in the Digital Workplace is the ability to focus on data instead of tools. To the extent possible, we'll see progress that "makes the tools go away" so that we can focus on what we're creating rather than on the tool we're using.

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Marc D Anderson @sympmarc

President at Sympraxis

Marc Anderson

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

First of all, Digital Workplace - like most buzz phrases before it - has become somewhat meaningless. I think the original intent was to help free information workers for the confines of physical interactions and expand technology-enabled productivity. It doesn't mean that technology solves the business problems, but that better technology tools can help support a new way of working. None of this works without the right cultural and incentive shifts. In many ways, this echoes many movements before it, such as knowledge management, which we've been trying to enable since the mid-1990s.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

Office 365 offers capabilities that mostly outstrip the abilities of most organizations, especially larger ones. Microsoft is building capabilities which represent aspirational ways of working that are rare in the real world. This isn't a bad thing, but to many organizations, the mechanisms and techniques in Office 365 feel very foreign - a "not the way we work" perception. I think this is a huge reason for the dreaded "lack of adoption"; the tools don't necessarily reflect the way most organizations actually work, or even the way they may want to work. Ideas at the top about fascinating workplace trends to not usually filter down the common worker very well. All that said, designing for the future of work is the right way to go.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

Everything! And, unfortunately - in some cases - nothing. As a trend, it will continue and some organizations will alter the way they work. The classic technology adopter curve applies here, and there will be laggards and even organizations which simply never see or receive value from these ideas. I believe in an evolutionary approach to change, not a revolutionary one. That, plus the fact that change for the sake of change - without making people more productive and happier about their work - will mean many failed efforts, as we have seen with most trends in the past. Every change agent should look for smaller wins that can really happen, chipping away at older, less productive ways of working rather than trying to change everything.

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Liam Cleary @helloitsliam

Associate Director at Protiviti

Liam Cleary

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

The Digital Workplace is the virtual workplace, the place where people and process are first, with technology enabling all aspects of collaboration seamlessly.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

Some of them yes, however the key to the digital workplace is not always the technology, though Office 365 does offer lots of capabilities. The ability to rebuild, design and implement end user business processes easily is the key, not Office 365 alone.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

We see this happening now, but still has some way to go. The blurring of on-premises applications and cloud services from a process perspective will be next. The joining of multiple services and applications together using a connector type approach will be the next logical step. We all still seek the single pane of glass over everything, as of yet this is not a true reality.

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Jeremy Thake @jthake

Vice President of Product Technology at Hyperfish

Jeremy Thake

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

It is where my colleagues and I go to get our work done, on whatever device we have at our finger tips. It's a place to share our contributions with the rest of the organization easily.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

Office 365 is the best solution for a Digital Workplace because its all-in-one service. It will only get easier over time, as the service integrates even more closely together. Active Directory sign in and the app launcher were the first. Office 365 Groups was the second and Microsoft Teams will really push this further in 2018.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

Digital assistants will start to really leverage the context of all the systems you use in your digital workplace. This is starting to happen with Cortana in Windows 10 with calendar events. I foresee lots more suggestions to help you get your job done, based on who you work with, your profile and the content you access.

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Julie Turner @jfj1997

Principal Architect at Sympraxis Consulting LLC

Julie Turner

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

To me, a Digital Workplace is the distributed connectedness that allows someone to be productive, wherever they are: in the office, across town, or across the globe. In recent years, progressive corporate environments have started allowing and encouraging their workforce to detach from their office chair necessitating tools to allow them to remain connected. For me - coming from a family who owns a small business and being a member of a small business myself, where one person must wear many hats, is often juggling many commitments, and is constantly on the go - the need for this connectedness has always been there. It's only been in the last few years we've seen the emergence of technology (hardware and software) that can help make us really productive while on the go. Of course, there's always more to do.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

For corporations and larger organizations that work mostly amongst various locations of the same organization where authentication is seamless, I think Office 365 is unparalleled and advancing at a mind-blowing rate.
I would say for the small or maybe micro business level, where people are often collaborating amongst many resources that aren't necessarily members of their organization, challenges still exist. Given the general technical and financial limitations of those businesses, the hurdles are harder to overcome.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

The number of tools out there that help with various types of tasks is overwhelming to most people. Refining the story and seamlessness of those various tools, in my mind, is one of the most important directives.

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Paolo Pialorsi @PaoloPia

Senior Consultant at piasys.com

Paolo Pialorsi

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

The set of tools that let you manage your business from wherever you need and with whatever device you like.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

I would say 99% yes. Of course, there is always room for improvement, but for sure Office 365 is nowadays one of the best set of services to build a Digital Workplace.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

Wearable devices and AI will mark the road to the future

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Jussi Roine @JussiRoine

Chief Research Officer at Sulava

Jussi Roine

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

No paper forms, tools readily available for any devices, automated processes and an attitude to work for the future.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

Yes, and no. A lot of the Office 365 tooling is still very 'classic', while the modern does not match what is needed. It's a buffet table of things where you need to understand what you're allergic to.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

Teams.

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Andrew Connell @andrewconnell

Founder & Chief Course Artisan at Voitanos

Andrew Connell

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

A people-first work environment where technology is a core component to collaboration, decision making and enabling workers to get their job done.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

Yes, for the enterprise... not so much for small business.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

Focus on small business, at least from the Office 365 perspective. Office 365 is great for enterprise where everyone collaborates together, but sharing & working with people outside your domain is still a significant weakness of Office 365.

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Darrell Webster @darrellaas

Adoption and Change Management Specialist

Darrell Webster

Describe for us what the "Digital Workplace” means for you.

A Digital Workplace (DW) is not a place of work, but a way of working. It is tools and organizational culture. DW tools support working from anywhere, connecting people with other people and information, be it at a desk, on the road or while waiting for your coffee to brew. DW culture is inclusive, connected and collaborative. The cultural default is to share skills, ideas, observations - information.

Does Office 365 respond to the challenges that arise in the "Digital Workplace"?

Yes, Office 365 provides the tools to cover most challenges for a Digital Workplace. It offers choice of different communication, collaboration and coordination tools. However, it is up to the organization to create the culture and give guidance.

In your opinion, what’s next for the "Digital Workplace"?

Hey, got another minute?

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