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Ten Benefits of an Office 365 Digital Workplace with Bruce Harple

Bruce is the Vice President of Delivery for ThreeWill. Bruce has over thirty-five years of extensive experience and proven success in IT Professional Services Management, COTS Product Development, Application Management and overall Financial Management.

Danny Ryan:Hello, and welcome to the Work Together Better podcast. This is your host, Danny Ryan. I am here today with our VP of delivery, Mr. Bruce Harple. How are you doing Mr. … why I’m saying Mr. Bruce Harple, I have no idea.

 

Bruce Harple:I like the mister. It makes me feel better. Makes me feel like I am somebody.

 

Danny Ryan:Captain Bruce Harple, how about that?

 

Bruce Harple:There you go. I like that.

 

Danny Ryan:Captain, my captain. I’m here with Bruce. Bruce, just does a bang up job with our delivery organization making things happen every single day that I’m amazed by. I appreciate you taking some time to carve out of your schedule to meet up with me now.

 

Today, we wanted to talk about something related to some of the business planning this year and one of the offerings that we have for folks which is the digital workplace briefings.

 

Let’s get this whole thing kicked off with what are you seeing? Tell me some about the planning. What was going on this year and sort of what are you looking forward to with helping people for this year?

 

Bruce Harple:One of the things that we’re trying to focus on this year is really just trying to understand from our customers what are the key business problems, the challenges, the key drivers and the opportunities they’re facing as they look at this new world and this new world of a digital workplace and moving to the cloud.

 

A lot of this is all about getting from On-Prem to the cloud. We started to pull together in support of the digital workplace briefing, but we started pulling together what are the top ten challenges, drivers, problems that customers are seeing.

 

We wanted to put ourselves in their shoes to understand how can we help them, right? I thought we could start by just maybe talking through, I’ll call it the top 10.

 

Danny Ryan:I love a good list.

 

Bruce Harple:I really love top 10s.

 

Danny Ryan:I love a good list. A top 10, enumerated list. I love them, so let’s start off. Do I need the date, letter, and number one.

 

Bruce Harple:We’re going to start right at the top.

 

Danny Ryan:Number one. Yes. What is it?

 

Bruce Harple:So, number one, and this is no new news. Number one has been around for a long time. Findability.

 

Danny Ryan:Findability.

 

Bruce Harple:Findability. Right.

 

Danny Ryan:I know it’s in there somewhere and I think I’ll recreate it four or five times because I can’t find it anymore.

 

Bruce Harple:So, here’s the scary part, right? Going from an On-Prem cloud relation environment to the cloud, the problem gets worse. Maybe in the On-Prem world you might have been collaborating via SharePoint and you had a single search engine behind SharePoint, right?

 

Danny Ryan:Yep.

 

Bruce Harple:Now, you’re getting to the cloud and Office 365 and I’ve got Yammer search. I’ve got Team search. I’ve got SharePoint search. I’ve got Bing search.

 

Danny Ryan:But, it’s all brought together with Bing.

 

Bruce Harple:I know.

 

Danny Ryan:It’s all brought together. We’ve done some things. I think there are some interesting things that Microsoft is doing with that, so number one’s findability.

 

Bruce Harple:Number one is findability.

 

Danny Ryan:That’s really important.

 

Bruce Harple:That’s a big driver for people.

 

Danny Ryan:Number two.

 

Bruce Harple:These aren’t necessarily in order, but I just put just infrastructure. I think clearly the value proposition for Office 365 as your high very value prop from a cost perspective. People are just looking to move apps and solutions from On-Prem, whether it’s SharePoint or whether it’s custom apps, whether it’s custom web apps or custom client server apps, legacy type apps. Getting them to the cloud.

 

The other part of that is scalability. I mean, for me to scale solutions On-Prem, that’s costly, but to scale in the cloud. To scale with Office 365 or to scale with an Azure, man, it’s a much easier and quicker and more efficient way to scale your solutions and your applications.

 

Danny Ryan:That’s a good bread-and-butter one. Number two.

 

Bruce Harple:It is. It is.

 

Danny Ryan:What’s number three?

 

Bruce Harple:Number three is, I’ll call it related to that. I call it unsupported technology in apps or it’s the legacy apps. We know there’s a lot of legacy apps out there. We all know there’s still mainframe applications to running, but even, there are still VV apps. There are still access applications. Even older technology that are all client-based technology that are still, there’s some business critical apps that are still out there that just don’t scale.

 

They’re not really multi-user type applications and organizations want to figure out how to get that to the cloud to where now I can scale the application more and it becomes a multi-user application versus a single-user or a client-based solution.

 

Danny Ryan:We’ve done things where we’ve inventoried all the apps that people have and try to decide because there needs to be a cost justification for doing the move and there’s different reasons why you would move it over versus not move it over. I think we’ve been fortunate enough to get a little maturity around that as well.

 

Bruce Harple:Absolutely. Absolutely.

 

Danny Ryan:What’s the number? We’re on four.

 

Bruce Harple:Number four. I just call it collaboration, which is pretty broad, but I think in today’s world, I mean, we all work in a virtual world. Even when we work with customers, we might be on a split review or we might have a kick-off meeting and there might be two customers and us on site with a customer and 10 team members are all virtual, in many cases, around the world.

 

Danny Ryan:But this is really you sitting beside me. This isn’t like virtual [crosstalk 00:05:54], is it?

 

Bruce Harple:This is a desk. We’re not virtual. We’re here.

 

Danny Ryan:Good. Let me touch your arm. Yeah, it’s real, folks.

 

Bruce Harple:But the point is-

 

Danny Ryan:It’s not a virtual bruise.

 

Bruce Harple:No, no, but the point is, in collaboration, it becomes much more important and in that disconnected, virtual world. For people to be able to collaborate together around a problem, around a customer, around a development of a product, or whatever it might be, it becomes critical, to be able to do that quickly and efficiently.

 

Because in today’s world, time is of the essence. Time to market. Time to collaborate. Time to concept. Time to envision. It’s just so critical. Collaboration is a key driver for people.

 

Danny Ryan:Absolutely. Number five.

 

Bruce Harple:Number five. I call is single source of data, which isn’t necessarily a problem as we move into the cloud necessarily or move into Office 365 or Azure, but that’s still a challenge for many of our customers today. The best example is customer data, customer information. It lives in multiple places.

 

Which customer address is the right address? Which customer account is the right account? Can you bring that together in a cloud-based environment where you know I’ve consolidated all that data into a single source of the truth, so to speak. It’s a bigger problem than that, but-

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah, well I don’t even deal with that much, on the CRM side, don’t even deal with that much information, but it’s a problem for me.

 

Bruce Harple:Yeah. Absolutely.

 

Danny Ryan:Number six.

 

Bruce Harple:Number six. I just called it mobility. I already touched on it really. The fact that we’re in this virtual, mobile world, where we’re all working from the office sometimes, from home sometimes, from Starbucks sometimes, in the car sometimes. I mean, if you think about it in today’s world, you can really work anywhere, any place.

 

Danny Ryan:Are we nowadays, when you’re saying mobility or mobile, in the Office 365 world, we know they have their built-in apps. Are we creating stuff that works with that? Like with teams? When you say mobility, is it creating responsive websites? It is creating an app itself that’s running like an IOS or Android app? What does that mean?

 

Bruce Harple:Yeah. What I’m really talking about is making sure that the critical pieces of your digital workplace that need to be mobile type components are truly mobile responsive, so that, that user experience, if you have a lot of people who are out there on tablets or on phones and there’s certain business functions they need to perform on those mobile devices, you want it to be a good experience.

 

You don’t want productivity and efficiency to be impacted because I’m now on a notebook or I’m now on a phone. The reality is, there’s a lot of people. There’s a lot of field people, a lot of operational people, and there’s a huge mobile workforce today

 

It really has to do with making that user experience effective and not losing that as you go from a full web browser based, browser based view into a smaller device.

 

Danny Ryan:I’m amazed with how much stuff nowadays that we’re doing through teams as opposed to SharePoint, web-based content. It’s changed.

 

Bruce Harple:It has changed.

 

Danny Ryan:I would say it’s changed for the better and the things that I’m able to do with other people inside of ThreeWill and I imagine everybody else is seeing that same thing. Parts of it will continue to need to be in SharePoint and have the responsive and all the good stuff along with that, but a lot of the team based stuff just seems to be rolled over into Microsoft teams. Number seven. Seven?

 

Bruce Harple:Yeah, number seven. Number seven, I called it Excel collaboration. You did a whole separate podcast on this. I think we called it the modernization of Excel. I mean, I’ve talked about Excel. It’s like the Swiss Army knife to most enterprises.

 

There is so much business functionality built around Excel spreadsheets, it’s phenomenal. We’ve modernized a lot of that. I think now with Office 365 and the move to the cloud, I think there’s tremendous opportunity to really drive that modernization and move from just an Excel-based application to a multi-user, mobile responsive type application that is going to be a much more effective way for people to collaborate.

 

Danny Ryan:Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep. Number eight.

 

Bruce Harple:I call it employee engagement. The world has become more social, as we know. Companies want their employees to engage digitally. We’re very much a digital workforce. We’re all connected. We all have phones. We all have tablets. Getting employees to engage through these digital solutions is critical to organizations. They want that engagement. They want the employees to connect through their digital workplace.

 

We’re hearing that. We’re hearing that we want the adoption by our employees. We want them to collaborate. We want to be able to provide a social platform interaction that they’re used to having outside of the office.

 

Danny Ryan:Yep. Absolutely. If you build it, they will come, not always.

 

Bruce Harple:Absolutely. Absolutely.

 

Danny Ryan:Alright. Eight.

 

Bruce Harple:Eight is, I just call it culture change. We’re seeing a lot of consolidation, a lot of mergers and acquisitions in the marketplace today. We see it all the time with our customers. In many cases, you’re bringing two different cultures together and they could have had two different platforms for collaboration, for knowledge management, for social interactions.

 

Now, they’re bringing these two cultures together and they’re picking a platform and we’re seeing that platform of choice in many cases is Office 365. This drive to bring cultures together, to continue to make sure you drive the employee engagement, and provide a platform that these combined and these integrated culture will use and leverage to facilitate the integration of these cultures. It’s a key driver. We’re seeing it a lot right now.

 

Danny Ryan:These are for the mergers and acquisitions.

 

Bruce Harple:Mergers and acquisitions. Yep, exactly.

 

Danny Ryan:Yep, yep. That makes a lot of sense. Number nine.

 

Bruce Harple:Number nine, I just call it just the Office 365 roadmap. What I’m saying there is, what customers are seeing, we’ve maybe even talked in a previous podcast. There’s this thing called the Office 365 periodic table. The table is all of the functions in Office 365 and there’s 27, I think, in the most current periodic table.

 

The challenge is, you can’t just turn on 27 things and just give it to your business users and say, “Here you go. Here’s SharePoint. Here’s Dell. Here’s Stream. Here’s Swag. Here’s Flow.” That’s not going to work. Those are all architectural pieces that can be enablers of collaboration and communication, but by themselves, they’re not things you can just flip over to your end users.

 

The roadmap just says, “How do I make sense of all of this and how do I go after it,” in a way that my organization can consume and really gain value out of it. That’s my top 10. That’s a lot.

 

Danny Ryan:When you solve that problem, man-

 

Bruce Harple:World peace is next.

 

Danny Ryan:World peace is next. That was 10?

 

Bruce Harple:That was 10.

 

Danny Ryan:That was 10. Alright.

 

Bruce Harple:That was 10.

 

Danny Ryan:If some of these things resonated with somebody or somebody’s ready to talk more about one of these things, what do we do with them?

 

Bruce Harple:Yeah. What we do, as a way to get started, we call this your digital workplace journey. How do I really begin to consume all these pieces in Office 365? What we like to do is really flip the conversation. We do through this digital workplace briefing that you mentioned at the start of the podcast and we really want to flip the conversation to be more of a business conversation and less of a technology conversation.

 

Like I said, Office 365 and all the components of that, I mean, those are just architectural pieces that we can use to solve a business problem. A lot of them, what we try to do in that digital workplace briefing, is really try to educate customers on this journey because it really is a journey to get from where you are today, to where you want to be.

 

We really want to make sure that we focus on making sure that business objectives, those objectives are implemented through technology implementation. It’s really flipping the conversation. The workshop or the briefing really …

 

Some of its education, but some of it focuses on beginning to drive the understanding of business outcomes. What are you trying to accomplish as an organization? What’s important to you?

 

But eventually, what we want to try to do is as part of the briefing, we talk about driving people to assess their different maturity levels with different parts of a digital workplace. The areas within the digital workplace that we drive people to understand, what’s your current maturity level in these areas and then, not only that, but where do you want to get to?

 

So the maturity level could be anywhere from basic or all the way up to strategic. The areas we look at, we look at people and profiles. We look at content management, the user experience. We look at information architecture, search and taxonomy. We look at the social interactions, knowledge management, collaboration, employee recognition, security compliance governance.

 

Danny Ryan:So, we cover all this stuff during a briefing?

 

Bruce Harple:We cover all that during a briefing. Ultimately, we’re trying to get to the point where a customer and us, we can help a customer assess where they’re at today and where they want to get to. We might not accomplish all that in the briefing, but we’re going to put the framework in place because that’s all part of the journey.

 

It’s really trying to understand where am I today, what do I want to accomplish, but also tying that to as a business, what am I trying to accomplish. What are my key business drivers or what are my key business attains because we’re going to take all of that and then we begin to put together the vision. What is your digital workplace vision? How do I get there based on business priorities?

 

It is a journey, but the briefing really provides the framework, I guess. Gets some foundational thinking in place and begins to guide people down this journey of assessing their maturity level and where they want to get to.

 

We do it at no cost, so this digital workplace briefing is something that we do at no cost and it really starts the conversation and gets customers to think differently. Not think necessarily technology, not necessarily to think the functional pieces of Office 365, but really thinking around where do I want to get to? What’s my end state and how do I get to the end state in an incremental way, so it’s not the big bang?

 

How do I deliver value to my organization incrementally and as part of that, I’m really solving problems. Like driving things like employee engagement. I’m driving collaboration. I’m driving knowledge management. I’m driving. I’m addressing a lot of those problems I was describing at the beginning.

 

Danny Ryan:I want this questionnaire and I want to put it on. I would like to have. This is selfish of me, but I’ve worked with some of the other folks to try to get, because I love this idea of maturity levels and where people stand. I think, and it’s great that we go through this in the briefing, but there’s also a component of this that the first step of this is filling out where they are within this whole maturity level.

 

I need this questionnaire and I’ve been trying to work with people. I mean, we’re a small company, so I’ve been going, “Guys, give this to me. I want it.” I think it’s important for people to know where they are. I love the idea of a briefing. These are usually an hour or two?

 

Bruce Harple:About two hours.

 

Danny Ryan:About two hours.

 

Bruce Harple:About two hours.

 

Danny Ryan:It’s free. It’s just something where there’s no obligation. People are just [crosstalk 00:19:19]. What customer? I mean, obviously, we want customers with big budgets to contact us, but no, what are the real? What’s the value that we’re getting out of it? What’s the value that they’re getting out of it? Why would somebody reach out to us to do this?

 

Bruce Harple:Yeah. I think the value that a customer gets out of it, I think customers struggle with, “How do I get true business value out of Office 365?” I mean, people look at it and go, “Man, there’s a lot there.” They can do a lot, but it’s really helping customers figure out, “How do I best apply all these technology pieces that Microsoft has developed?”

 

I mean, Microsoft is a great product company. They’re going to keep adding more-and-more functionality to it, but just because it’s there doesn’t mean it’s good and doesn’t mean it’s going to solve every business problem.

 

So I think for customers, I think, we can help them consume this monster called Office 365 and consume it in a way that they can deliver value to their organization. They can do it incrementally. You don’t have to do it all at once, and we can help build that roadmap for them.

 

Again, we view it as a journey. You’ve got to figure out what’s most important to me. What are my key business drivers and problems I’m trying to solve and let’s figure how we can take this amazing technology and apply it in a way that you can get value out of it and you can begin having an impact on your organization.

 

Danny Ryan:I think with this, we’re talking about generic use cases at a high level. I think a lot of the business stuff. I mean, you could dive down into one particular area of the business and spend eight hours on it because that’s the fact of the matter. I think some of this is just inventorying what are the business cases that we have out there and prioritizing them and saying which ones we want to go after.

 

It’s very easy. I want to solve your business problems. Well, that’s great. I have a set of 40 of them and if I went into any one of them with you, I would blow your mind. It’s just the way the nature of that business is. I think for us, we often go at it from a generic use case collaboration. Here’s the what the organization will get out of this.

 

Because if you go into one of them, you’re digging in, and digging in deep with it, but I think for us, it’s maybe looking at, what are the initial? I understand you’re trying to say what are the initial things we want to try to focus in on and starting to put together a back log of different use cases we can go after and where do we go for initial steps.

 

I think a briefing’s good. Then, what do we do after the briefing and the workshop. We have a digital workplace workshop. [crosstalk 00:22:11]

 

Bruce Harple:We do a digital workplace workshop. I think sometimes, coming out of the briefing, as we talk to a customer, because a lot of times, as we’ve done briefings with customers, the light bulbs begin to go off with customers. It’d be good to say, “Man, I’m at a basic level as it relates to knowledge management. I want to get up to an advanced level.”

 

I think out of the briefing, we can actually work with customers to begin to figure out what areas of this digital workplace are more important. In some ways, we can structure the digital workshop to be more targeted.

 

Because a digital workplace is gigantic. It can be a lot of things to a lot of people. What we want to do is help to bring focus to that so when you get to the workshop, we’re not trying to solve all the problems that an enterprise might have or the opportunities they actually have. It’s, “Let’s figure out where can we focus.”

 

It helps us narrow down where do we start? Then, we can tailor the journey from there.

 

Danny Ryan:Awesome. Alright. I’m trying to keep these below 30 minutes, so we’re good. Any last minute things that you want to add to this?

 

Bruce Harple:No. Good conversation.

 

Danny Ryan:Appreciate it.

 

Bruce Harple:Glad we had time to do another one of these.

 

Danny Ryan:Absolutely. I appreciate you taking the time to do this. Thank you everybody for listening, and have a wonderful day. One last thing actually, before I can jump off. If you’re interested in the briefing, just go to the Contact Us on the ThreeWill website.

 

Just go in there and it asks what are you looking for. Just say the digital workplace briefing. That’ll generate off an email to me. It’ll get the things moving inside of ThreeWill to set one of these up for you.

 

Thanks again everybody for listening and have a wonderful day. Bye, bye.

 

Danny RyanTen Benefits of an Office 365 Digital Workplace with Bruce Harple

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