Microsoft Ignite just ended in Orlando. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said “computing is not just about the technology industry, it’s about the entire world” and it felt like the entire world was invited – hallways and sessions were packed. Being a conference for IT pros there was a preponderance of bean bag chairs, ice cream, and DJs. I’ll have to keep looking for a conference that has a string quartet before keynotes and fine wines at cocktail hour.
Still, I like the vision of trying to make a favorable impact on the world of work. What Satya described as “experiences that are much more people centric” is not just better or nicer – it is an imperative moving into a future where automation and AI may dominate with non-people centric tasks.
But we are increasingly finding that the ability and desire to apply new technologies to work is the gating factor for enabling the digital workplace, not just having cool technology that makes it easier to collaborate and create content. This is what Gartner calls “digital dexterity”. Satya showed a formula during his keynote that summed this up nicely:
Tech intensity = (tech adoption) ^ tech capability
Still, this being Ignite and not Inspire (the partner conference), the focus was more on the first part of that equation. But having an audience of IT pros is really the perfect time to talk more about how Microsoft and its partners can (and need to!) help set the groundwork for Office 365 before the rollouts occur. This includes surveying workers to determine where their minds are on how they work today (their degree of nonroutine autonomy) and attitudes towards teamwork, social networking, mobile work, and consumer tools. (By the way, Gartner’s Digital Dexterity Index is a great way to evaluate these elements of digital dexterity!)
Addressing digital dexterity also requires training – not just in features/functions of the tools but an overview of the entire digital workplace and its set of tools, when and why to use them, and how they can be used in the context of important business processes. To say nothing of upskilling the workforce – continually. Lastly, this includes metrics and tracking of how they are being used so training or expectations can be adjusted.
I’ll leave a discussion of my other major takeaway from the conference – the importance of Teams in Office 365 – for a second blog post. Suffice to say here that Ignite 2018 wasn’t about major releases as much as it was about showing progress while clarifying positioning and vision for the future of work and Microsoft’s place in it.
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