Dynamics Matters Podcast: Ep 16 - How to create a modern workplace

With special guest Sergio Giusti, Modern Workplace Practice Lead at HSO.

This episode covers:

✓ What exactly is a Modern Workplace

✓ What technology is used

✓ How do you get value from it



Welcome everyone to the HSO Dynamics matters podcast.

Your regular sonic dive into the world of Microsoft technology related matters and much more besides.

I’m Michael Lonnon, and today I’m joined by HSOs Modern workplace practice lead, Sergio Giusti.

When I first joined HSO I heard the phrase Modern Workplace used in reference to Microsoft technology. I thought it was a new technology I wasn’t aware of. It wasn’t.

It’s an amalgamation of the most important Microsoft tools in creating an efficient and well-functioning workplace.

Assuming I wasn’t the only one slightly confused by the terminology I thought I’d have a chat with Sergio to dig into exactly what is a modern workplace, in more detail.

So, grab a brew, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Michael Lonnon  – 00:12

Microsoft 365 or Office 365?

Sergio Giusti – 00:14

Microsoft 365?

Michael Lonnon  – 00:17

I thought I’d caught you out on that one. That’s the name change isn’t it? So Office 365 has now become Microsoft 365 effectively.

Sergio Giusti – 00:25

Yes, sort of. Prior to that happening there was a product called Microsoft 365 which is why it’s a little bit confusing. When they changed Office 365 to Microsoft 365, all they really did is bundle the things together. You’ll still hear references to Office 365 within Microsoft 365.

Michael Lonnon  – 00:58

Just to make it simple. So they’ve bundled it all together. They’ve bundled Office 365 effectively, SharePoint, Teams, Power Platform and they’ve called it the modern workplace haven’t they?

Sergio Giusti – 01:09

Sort of. I don’t know if it’s Microsoft themselves specifically have called them that. They certainly market that as do we and other vendors. Really, the modern workplace is just a buzzword. It’s like a catch all or just a way that we want to try and work. It’s how we want to work for our business, for our users, for our processes, for our systems, to make sure that we are secure and compliant, and to make sure that we can offer our users what they want. In this day and age, most users want to be able to work anywhere and on any device. They don’t want to be bogged down by process that’s stopping them from being productive.

Michael Lonnon  – 02:04

It’s about being efficient isn’t it? It’s about making work simpler.

Sergio Giusti – 02:07

Correct. It’s about making not just work, but your company, the way everything you do in your company more flexible, easier, more productive, more secure, more compliant, more collaborative, all of these things.

Michael Lonnon  – 02:24

Yes so it’s everything. That’s the dream for every organisation I’d say. That’s really where modern technology is driving that behaviour isn’t it? It’s driving efficiencies and improvement in the way that you can collaborate and all those sorts of things. That’s why they call it the modern workplace because that’s what it’s about, isn’t it, modern technologies driving all those changes.

Sergio Giusti – 02:52


Michael Lonnon  – 02:52

When organisations are trying to get value out of these particular tools that sit within the modern workplace, in Office 365 you’ve got Teams, SharePoint, you’ve got all these other tools, bits and pieces but not every organisation or employee knows they have access to the certain things. Is there a requirement or need from businesses to try and understand exactly what they have and how to make it easier for users to take advantage of these things do you think? Are they getting the most value out of it?

Sergio Giusti – 03:31

I think it’s absolutely necessary. It’s correct what you’re saying. A lot of businesses have bought Office 365 simply to do a migration of their exchange mailboxes into Outlook online. They’re paying for licences and they’re getting all these additional services that they aren’t using. Some of that is down to a lack of understanding. Some of that will be down to fear or perhaps economics. They might realise that they have these tools available but without the knowledge to know how to use them, how to best implement them to find a strategy to use them properly and then make sure as you’re doing it, you’re doing it correctly in terms of the security you’re applying, are you reading all your compliance regulations, GDPR, etc, these are considerations that can stop an organization. We’re on this legacy platform, it does about 60% of what we want it to do and it’s getting worse as time goes by, it’s maybe going to drop out of support. But we’ve got these other tools available to us so how can we use them to make our world a simpler place, a more secure place, a more compliant place? That can be a challenge for an organisation to even understand that that’s a capability but then also to consider and implement a new solution using those tools can be a challenge and not all IT departments are up to that challenge. I’ve seen a lot of companies where their staff user-base is ahead of their IT department in some regards. Maybe you’ve been licenced, for example, with your Office 365 account, you’re a curious user, you’ve selected an icon and you’ve seen that you’ve got available to you SharePoint, Teams, Power Apps and Power Automate. You’ve clicked into one of those Power Apps, maybe in Power Automate and you start to make new solutions for yourself, for your team for your department, because you can. IT is unaware of what you’re doing. If they haven’t yet rolled out Power Apps, Power Automate, SharePoint Online, Teams to your business, you might be using tools that they don’t know you’re using, and they don’t know how to manage and monitor and secure those tools.

Michael Lonnon  – 05:58

Is there not a danger of this?

Sergio Giusti – 06:00

Absolutely. There are many settings throughout Office 365 and Microsoft 365, but a lot of the settings in relation to compliance and security could definitely be missed if you haven’t thought about it and applied your governance correctly and then informed and educated your users on what systems are available. If you haven’t put the right measures in place to manage who can do what where, who’s going to control access, who’s going to control licences.

Michael Lonnon  – 06:35

You’ve got a number of challenges here. You talked about the potential 60% use of the tools themselves and 40% is not being used; it seems like a ridiculous waste of money. You’ve also got the challenge of where you’ve got individual users, potentially skilling themselves up beyond your IT team and beyond their ability to manage compliance or security and all the risks that comes with it.

Sergio Giusti – 07:05

Yes it can be a minefield. A great example of this would probably be use of Microsoft Teams due to the recent pandemic. Lots of businesses have had to radically and very quickly adopt Microsoft Teams and push that out to their organisations. Almost certainly the organisations that hadn’t done it before the pandemic, or weren’t at least planning to do it before the pandemic probably aren’t aware or haven’t considered all of the security and governance that they need to have thought about and applied to their Teams environment. Talking about things like letting users install apps into their Teams environment, creating groups for different policies that apply to different groups of people within the organisation. To work with external users, to not work with external users, to share, to collaborate. All of these thoughts and things just in relation to that one product for many organisations won’t have happened and they perhaps now retrospectively are looking at that challenge and that would be a much harder problem to solve. Imagine you’re a large organization and you’ve got a department such as Marketing and you’re part of a marketing team. We give you Microsoft Teams, we rolled it out in haste because we needed everybody to work from home. You came into your Teams environment and you noticed that there is a marketing site for one of the other departments that you market for. So as an example using HSO, there used to be a marketing site for modern workplace. There was a marketing site for Dynamics-Ethanol, there was a marketing site for Dynamic CE, there was a marketing site for Analytics, all of the same people were in all of those teams, and all of the data was being shared across those teams. There was a realisation that I’ve got access to this tool but nobody’s taught me how to use it properly and I need one of these things. So I’m just going to make it because there’s a create new team button. All of a sudden, we had 10 marketing teams instead of one marketing team and that’s simple to do. I’ve worked with many organisations. I did a review for a large multinational and they had something like 16 HR sites, all with different and duplicate data spread throughout. But the core of it was, it was all the same people from the HR department that had created these teams. They were a big organization and person one invited the rest of the team, person two created their team and only invited a handful of people, person three etc. Their security got mixed up. When they came to do a search to find content they remembered talking to such and such about this topic but where was it? Is it in team one? Is it in team two?

Michael Lonnon  – 10:24

You can see how easily it snowballs.

Sergio Giusti – 10:28

Yes definitely. You look sometimes at your Teams environment, and you go, wow, there are way too many teams here. For certain things, a lot of what’s in these should have just been a channel or a private channel within a team and managed by one set of people rather than letting all the users manage their own teams about the same topic.

Michael Lonnon  – 10:51

You’ve outlined pretty well, some of the challenges that can happen. We’ve tried to take advantage of the tools that come with the things in the modern workplace. Is there a better or best way of making best use of these tools? If there was one piece of golden advice you’d offer out to businesses listening to the podcast, what might it be?

Sergio Giusti – 11:22

In an ideal world, you would take the time to learn a little bit about each of the tools within modern workplace, you would then plan and strategise your deployment of those tools across your company estate and then you would implement that. At the same time, you would be communicating correctly with all of your users and educating them on the tools that will be coming in and how to use those tools. However, I don’t think I’ve ever met a company that’s done that. Actually, I have met one company where we sat for a few weeks and just went through each of the applications, we went through their entire business and planned out a strategy for how they would do exactly that but that was one in a million. In most instances, you will find, especially now after the pandemic, with Microsoft Teams, it’s a big driver for companies that have just adopted Microsoft 365. They’ve implemented Teams, they’re now just looking at what are the other tools available? We’re already paying for these licences. What else can we use? Instead of putting in my Capex or Opex for next year, x amount of pounds to replace system A that’s a legacy system and the support is running out? Shall I build a new system using these tools? Is that even possible? How do I do it? Will it be secure? Will I be able to govern it? How will I manage it? How will I support it? How will I train my users? How will we migrate data? Lots to think about.


Tools such as Microsoft 365, Power Apps, Teams, SharePoint, Outlook and so on are all designed to help you create a modern workplace.

This simply means helping workers become more efficient. Making it possible to create new applications that solve challenges without the need to spend lots of money. And making it easier for the business to connect and collaborate internally and externally.

The approach to creating a modern workplace is different for every organisation. Because each has their own expectations and challenges. Microsoft knows this. And a huge amount of flexibility has been built into their workplace tools to allow you to mould each around your own needs.

But what is important is they are well administered and supported to maintain consistency and security.

I hope you enjoyed this episode, thanks for listening, take of yourselves.

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