The modern workplace is coming into its own as more and more companies jump on board with advancements in technology and tools that digitally enable the workforce. Where the conference room used to be the meeting hub, now digital collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams effectively lead virtual “in-person” meetings. Where note pads, folios, and pens dotted tables in boardrooms, now e-pads and screens replace paper with Microsoft OneNote as the preferred mode of notetaking.
Red Level, along with Microsoft, recently hosted the Modern Workplace Summit to help focus Michigan businesses on their evolution to the modern workplace.
“Continual change is the new normal. New systems and practices sweep away old ones with almost predictable regularity,” said David King, President and CEO of Red Level. “Our annual Modern Workplace Summit tackles the necessary efficiencies everyone needs to smoothly transition as a digital workforce.”
Power Summit for IT and Business Leaders Alike
Red Level invited three Michigan-based national and multi-national corporations to share their digital transformation experiences during the opening panel.
In the afternoon, three technology consulting experts showcased some of the tools companies are using to make the transition to modern including Microsoft Teams, Microsoft PowerApps and Flow and Microsoft’s Security Suite.
Transitioning to the Digital Workforce: Kickoff Panel
During the kick-off panel, attendees gleaned a common thread from the conversation: transitioning to a digital workforce takes time, persistence, and early alignment of IT and the business.
With Moderator Jack LaPan, Red Level Director of Products, the Summit launched into full swing with:
- Bill Piper, Vice President of IT with RPT Realty, a national owner and operator of modern and engaging open-air shopping destinations principally located in top U.S. markets. With only two years under his belt at RPT, Piper shared the challenges faced in architecting a quick turn to modernize tech only to have a change in leadership require a re-justification of modernization.
- Rebecca Zultowski, Corporate Communications Specialist with Carhartt, a global workforce clothing manufacturer with 2,200 American workers and 5,000 total associates worldwide. Zultowski shared her experience strengthening the business’s partnership with IT to quash a silo mentality and engage the company with its new Hub Site.
- Chris Stevenson, IT Business Partner with Livonia, Mich. MASCO Corp., a global leader in design, manufacturing, and distribution of branded home improvement and building products. Stevenson brings a breadth of experience aligning IT and business to influence tech solutions that generate business value. At MASCO, his work includes multiple SharePoint migrations, automation of business processes, and development of tech roadmaps utilizing Microsoft Office 365.
Their conversation wove in and around business challenges to reduce and eliminate silos, strengthen relationships across the enterprise, earn trust in the workplace, how to document measured results, as well as how respective Microsoft products and apps helped streamline automation and improve collaboration.
To conclude, Stevenson recommended using Office 365 to drive business value throughout the enterprise, while Piper encouraged partnerships rather than silos. Zultowski, with her line of business perspective, suggested that everyone communicate often and always provides people an understanding of the why of transformation.
Technology Solutions for Business Problems Featured in Afternoon Sessions
Three afternoon sessions drilling into specific areas businesses can gain efficiencies and reduce risk provided information to help small-to-medium Michigan businesses advance their progression into the modern workplace.
Microsoft Teams as a Hub for Teamwork
Ryan Charnock, Red Level Practice Lead for Office 365 and SharePoint, presented a lively session on Microsoft Teams, the hub for teamwork in Office 365. With many companies migrating fully to a virtual workplace, Microsoft Teams solves for the collaboration and communication issues of a dispersed workforce.
Charnock tapped two ubiquitous problems facing workplaces: email overload and the Problem of Proximity. Users want everything closely accessible (rather than ‘far away in a SharePoint portal,’) and easily shareable (hello email overload). How can you solve for that? Microsoft Teams does just that: puts files in an easily shareable location that can be accessed from any device.
Case in point, a local Michigan museum using classic SharePoint had team sites for every exhibition. Each team site consisted of splash pages, folders and every document pertaining to the show. The problem was users were not as enamored of the team sites as those who developed the sites. Then there was the problem of proximity: users wanted their materials and data closer and more accessible.
The solution was to create teams in Microsoft Teams in three simple steps by connecting SharePoint to Office 365 Groups and then into the new environment. Users easily accessed, with less search time, their information locally and gained improved collaboration with Microsoft Teams.
PowerApps and Flow to Transform Business Process
Clay Osborn, Red Level software development team lead, discussed Microsoft PowerApps and Flow as tools to automate workflows across services and business applications.
Too many companies run old technology with redundant manual work processes that drag on efficiency.
Osborn shared a case study on workflow improvement for AJAX Paving by designing a custom app with PowerApps for its truck drivers. The problem involved too much paper, spreadsheets, complexity, and delayed or incorrect time entries that proved chaotic for payroll and users alike.
Using an agile approach, Red Level captured user stories (“As a user, I need to be able to XX because XX”), designed the new app with a user-centric approach, and then used Microsoft Flow, a back-end powerhouse to pull information from their SQL database.
Once built, AJAX realized a broad spectrum of results including satisfaction throughout the company: drivers improved time entry via the new app, payroll personnel got simplified reporting, and automating workflows created significant efficiencies in productivity.
Microsoft Modern Workplace Expert Speaks on Microsoft 365 Security 101
The final presentation of the day was on Microsoft 365 Security 101. Presented by Eric Inch, formerly with C/D/H, now Red Level, and now a Modern Workplace Expert with Microsoft, the session delivered high-level information about Microsoft security.
Microsoft, Inch admitted, is not typically regarded as a security company; yet, the company seeks to change that with its suite of security products aligned with Microsoft and Office 365.
He explained that Microsoft works with governments globally to analyze forensic data with its Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph. Trillions of signals push advance detection of cyber-attacks that allow the company to block hackers and share news of the attacks across the environment.
Inch provided an overview of the intricacies of security from how to identify suspicious employee behavior, email phishing and auto-classification of data to blocking malicious unauthorized apps and the importance of multi-factor authentication.
As the modern workplace continues to evolve, technology will continue to evolve with it. Stay ahead of the curve with a technology consulting partner that understands your business needs.