James Dellow is passionate about the potential of technology to drive social innovation. 

A self-described "human-centered designer," Dellow understands that while technology holds great promise to effect change, the tools mean little (to nothing) if people won't use them.

In his work as a consultant and researcher, Dellow helps clients through every step of digital workplace creation, from user research to solution architecture to digital workplace adoption and optimization.

What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2016?

During 2016 I've been looking at the marketplace for turnkey intranet solutions for SharePoint and Office 365. 

I have been impressed by the diversity in the ecosystem, but through this process I have also gained a much stronger appreciation of Microsoft's broader cloud strategy. This is a period of a massive transition and I think a lot of Microsoft's customers are still to catch up on the potential and new opportunities in the platform.

What gives you the greatest satisfaction at work?

Working as a consultant in the realm of the digital workplace, I get the greatest satisfaction from helping my clients to navigate the complexity of the human and technology relationship in the workplace. Sometimes the real insight and pleasure for me is understanding what exactly the problem is we are trying to solve together.

Name one work-related moment that surprised or gave you an a-ha moment in 2016.

The launch of Workplace by Facebook this year reminded me that even after all this time there is still room for innovation in intranets and collaboration. But it also reminded me that so many businesses and organizations have yet to really experience the difference that a modern digital workplace can make. 

To quote author William Gibson, "The future is already here — it's just not evenly distributed."

Learning Opportunities

Did you ever take on a job you thought you couldn't do?

No, but I have had some interesting experiences and worked in a variety of industries. 

I once spent five hours underground in a longwall coal mine to do some user research. Until you find yourself in that situation, I don't think you can be quite sure how you will react. Luckily I discovered I didn't mind being deep underground, although it was nice being back above ground at the end of the site visit.

If you had to get rid of your computer or your phone, which would it be and why?

If you had asked me this 10 years ago, I'm sure I would have said my phone. Today I would say my computer, as my phone is my gateway to the cloud. If I need to use a computer, I can log in from anywhere if I have my phone with me.

When you were seven years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be an astronaut. I don't think that is ever going to happen, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that space tourism becomes within my reach one day.

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