A sign that says "reader pop. 36" on a quiet road.
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We've had a great year working with our CMSWire Reader Advisory Board. This team, the third iteration of its kind, is composed of practitioners who care about creating great experiences, whether it’s for the employee or customer. They help us craft content themes for CMSWire.com and inspire us with their real-world practitioner stories.

Today, we catch up with our advisors on the employee experience side, discussing challenges and success stories in their arenas for 2019 and what’s exciting them for next year. Later this month, we’ll catch up with our customer experience-focused advisors.

Stacey Blissett-Saavedra, Chief Technology Officer, Brooklyn Defender Services

Stacey Blissett-Saavedra
Stacey Blissett-Saavedra
CMSWire: What was your greatest challenge in the digital workplace as a practitioner in 2019 and why?

Blissett-Saavedra: This year, I have been blessed to have started a new role as CTO for an amazing nonprofit organization. I have been a senior leader in IT leading digital transformation for several years, but this is the first time I am doing it for a nonprofit. Understanding that the digital solutions I put in place can have immediate, significant positive or adverse impact to the lives of our clients has been a new challenge for me. 

CMSWire: What was your greatest success story in the digital workplace as a practitioner in 2019 and why?

Blissett-Saavedra: Three and a half years ago, when I started my first C-suite position, I was determined to make a significant impact to the way the agency interacted with technology. I created a set of ambitious goals. In June of 2019, my technology department finished three major projects under impossible deadlines and successfully completed those goals that were set. This was accomplished only because of my amazing team. 

The most rewarding part of this year was seeing my team grow and progress professionally under my leadership. When I resigned my position as CIO (at the New York City Commission on Human Rights), the Commissioner recognized the amazing talent that existed inside the technology team I had mentored and decided that the best way to ensure the continued technology success in the agency was to appoint one of my direct reports to the CIO role. The greatest reward for any leader is to see the success of the people that work with them, and I got to experience that this year. 

CMSWire: What are you looking forward to in your arena in 2020?

Blissett-Saavedra: There are so many things I am looking forward to in 2020. I am excited to be working alongside amazing executives in my new role. I am excited about learning and growing personally and professionally. I am most excited about the day that one of my solutions makes a direct difference in the lives of one of our clients. There is nothing better than knowing what you do can really help people in a very real way. 

Brad Grissom, Senior Customer Success Manager, Microsoft

Brad Grissom
Brad Grissom

CMSWire: What was your greatest challenge in the digital workplace as a practitioner in 2019 and why?

Grissom: I see customers trying to tackle the increasingly large amount of communication and collaboration applications that they have access to. This isn’t necessarily a new problem, but it isn’t one that is solved easily or quickly. Even beyond apps that crop up through shadow IT endeavors, there still exists significant overlap in applications that many IT shops have access to. 

The key to overcoming this challenge is to develop a comprehensive, overarching digital workplace strategy for the enterprise. This strategy has to be able to account for niche needs, edge use cases, and an ever-evolving landscape of applications and services within the digital toolkit. There isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all solution for most organizations; however, there cannot be complete fragmentation either. The best strategies are flexible and find the right balance that meets the majority of enterprise needs. 

CMSWire: What was your greatest success story in the digital workplace as a practitioner in 2019 and why?

Grissom: I see the greatest success of 2019 as the general, widespread acceptance of two ideas rather than some project milestone or completion achievement. Those two ideas are that the overall employee experience is influenced by, either positively or negatively, digital experience and that the heart of digital experience therefore isn’t about the technology, but more so the capabilities and outcomes that are enabled. Maybe I am a bit naïve in how widespread these ideas have traveled and been accepted, but they are less and less required as starting topics when discussing the importance of the digital workplace. Maybe not everyone has reached this understanding, but the leaders and teams within organizations that are responsible for delivering it have.

CMSWire: What are you looking forward to in your arena in 2020?

Grissom: As always, I look forward to what is coming next. For the digital workplace, I believe we will see the continued progress toward more unified interfaces (a.k.a., the oft coveted single pane of glass). This is eventually going to result in an overall reduction in the amount of apps we use or need to use on a regular basis. 

At the same time, we will need to find the right balance for how much capability we can pack in to a single interface. I hope to see many more integrations built in to products like Microsoft Teams so that it can act as an anchoring point for both information and frontline workers as they start, progress through, and end their work day. We should also see more and more artificial intelligence built in to our digital workplaces, which I think is both exciting and the next leap in productivity. 

Jed Cawthorne, Director, Security and Governance Solutions, NetDocuments

Jed Cawthorne
Jed Cawthorne

CMSWire: What was your greatest challenge in the digital workplace as a practitioner in 2019 and why?

Cawthorne: My biggest challenge as a practitioner at TD Bank was putting in a new enterprise search engine. Why? Well because we had technical challenges that had to be overcome with the vendor and the solution's performance, but these were worked through, and we deployed a capability that was better and faster than what came before it. When I left the bank in September the focus was on the analytics being provided by search, and how to combine them with intranet usage analytics and CMS analytics to provide a comprehensive view of content use.  

CMSWire: What was your greatest success story in the digital workplace as a practitioner in 2019 and why?

Cawthorne: The above: getting a new search engine into production for 45,000-plus users.

CMSWire: What are you looking forward to in your arena in 2020?

Cawthorne: I am no longer really a practitioner, or at least while I remain one, it is no longer my primary function, having moved to a software company in a senior product management role. However, in the digital workplace arena I look forward to continuing discussions we are having with many industry partners on how we can better integrate our cloud document management solution into users digital workplaces.

Morten Dal, Senior Customer Success Manager, Microsoft

Morten Dal
Morten Dal

CMSWire: What was your greatest success story in the digital workplace as a practitioner in 2019 and why?

Dal: 2019 saw momentum worldwide in the sense that, "Work is not a place – it’s an activity." Having joined Microsoft early this year, I can really see how much that momentum, that transformation, is gaining in large, medium-sized and small firms. More and more enterprises are seriously building “great employee experience” as expressed through their focus on technology and innovation, architecture and workspace and the way we work. More and more companies are realizing that this is an important stepstone toward delivering excellent customer experience.

CMSWire: What are you looking forward to in your arena in 2020?

Dal: Connecting first-line workers. The next big wave in digital workspace transitions include connecting and onboarding of first-line workers (blue-collar, field staff, shop staff, medical staff, production workers etc.) 80% of the global workforce can be described as first-line workers.