2018 Contributor Sam Marshall "I'm not too interested in technology per se, but I'm fascinated by how it impacts our lives."

When he's not advising a client about how to improve their digital workplace, you can usually find Sam Marshall on a bicycle. Or eating yak cheese pizza. Or delivering a conference session about SharePoint intranets.

Many of these interests come together in his monthly columns on the site, where Sam brings clarity to what can be complex concepts, discussing technology in terms that are not only approachable, but also place the focus where it needs to be placed: on the people using it. 

'On a Mission to Improve People's Employee Experience'

Who are you, in a 280-character tweet? 

I’m the owner of ClearBox Consulting in the UK. A digital workplace consultant, intranet specialist, SharePoint & Office 365 commentator, CMSWire columnist, serial conference speaker and cycling fanatic. I understand technology, but approach it from the people-side first.    

What attracted you to your field and what still excites you about it? 

I'm not too interested in technology per se, but I'm fascinated by how it impacts our lives. I'm on a mission to improve people's employee experience, and am still excited by the potential here. As technology improves and becomes more ubiquitous, things seem to be simultaneously getting better (easy to use apps, tablet interfaces, bluetooth) and more challenging (relentless notifications, social noise, connecting to bluetooth).

What project are you working on now that our readers should know about? 

We've been piloting a way to benchmark a digital workplace in a one-day workshop and will be formally launching it in 2019. Digital workplace initiatives often struggle in the early days because stakeholders have different perceptions about the as-is and to-be. We bring about alignment by making these views transparent using a simultaneous scoring technique. We can do it all virtually too, which I think is pretty cool.

What story/stories related to your field will you be following in 2019? 

I'll be really interested to see how voice assistants like Alexa and Google expand into the workplace. It's one of those areas where people discover the value first in their personal lives, so the adoption part is easy, but the use cases are still emerging. Integration with IoT appliances have great potential. One day you might be able to get the printer to actually do what you want.

What was your first paying job? 

Unlikely as it sounds, I fireproofed oil-rigs in Norway. They were under construction in a beautiful fjord and I was pinning chicken-wire to the bulkhead before they sprayed on a special cement. It paid well and … err, that's it.     

Speed round!       

  • What word could you happily live without hearing ever again? Brexit
  • What book are you reading now? "How We Got to Now," by Steven Johnson
  • Favorite way to spend a day off? Cycling in the mountains, then beer
  • If you could go back in time, what period would you go to? Victorian England, it was the Silicon Valley of its time
  • Quote to live by: "For every problem there is a solution that is simple, neat — and wrong." H. L. Mencken (sort of — he's misquoted but improved!)