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Balancing the Needs of IT and the Business with Dante Ragazzo
Digital Workplace
Employee Experience

Balancing the Needs of IT and the Business with Dante Ragazzo

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23 minutes read time
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Published on May 29th, 2024
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Written by Dante Ragazzo

Join host Rob Ryan and special guest Frank Pathyil on The Workgrid as they welcome Dante Ragazzo, veteran Digital Workplace Leader at Tapestry.  

In this episode, we explore the evolving landscape of digital workplaces, discussing the critical relationship between IT and business units, the necessity of a well-defined digital workplace strategy, and the impact of AI on our work environments.  

Dante has worked at the intersection of Digital Workplace, communications, and technology at Tapestry for over a decade. Today, he shares his expert insights on reducing digital friction and enhancing productivity. Tune in to gain practical tips from a leader who has been steering the digital strategy for brands like Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman. Don't miss this engaging conversation filled with actionable advice! 

The following has been transcribed from the original podcast interview.

[RR] Before we jump in and get started, I think it'd be great for our listeners to learn a little bit about yourself and some of the work you've been doing over the last few years  

[DR] My name is Dante Ragazzo, I am a husband, I'm a father of three, I have three kids two girls and a boy, my wife and I have been married going on 26 years and we are very much looking forward to becoming empty nesters. We're not there yet, we’ve got a few years to go but a man can dream. So, that's really who I am day-to-day. Professionally I am the Senior Director of Digital Workplace at Tapestry. Some of your listeners may not know who Tapestry is but they've probably heard of our brands. We're the parent company of Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman Brands. So, luxury retail is the market that we're in. I love those brands, I’m very proud to be working there and I've been there over 12 years actually! 

[RR] Could you share a little bit about your journey into the digital workplace realm and what inspired you to really focus on that junction of technology, strategy, and communication? 

[DR] My education is in communications. I am a proud Scarlet Knight, having attended Rutgers for both my undergraduate and graduate studies. I obtained my master's degree in communication and information studies from the School of Communications. At that time, it was known as the School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies, where we delved into systems and concepts like tagging and categorization before the rise of platforms like Netflix. 

Initially, I embarked on a career in traditional communications, primarily focused on writing messages. However, after a couple of years, I realized that it wasn't my true passion. Nevertheless, it seemed like the path I was destined to follow. One day, during a meeting, our VP mentioned blogging, a concept I had heard of but didn't know much about. Intrigued, I volunteered to explore it further, and that marked the beginning of a new chapter for me. 

I delved into the world of blogging, researching and reporting back to my VP on what it entailed. Shortly after, the company I was working for announced the deployment of a new intranet system called an enterprise portal, which introduced the concept of employee self-service and content management. Given my background, I was the natural choice to learn and understand the system. As I delved deeper, I found myself increasingly engaged and passionate about the technology side of communications. I would discuss it with my wife at home, constantly seeking to understand how things worked. 

This natural curiosity and inclination to tinker with technology became a defining aspect of my career. I realized that there was often a gap between communication professionals and the technology they needed to perform their jobs effectively. I saw an opportunity to bridge that gap by leveraging my understanding of both communication principles and technology. Early on, I found myself in conversations where communicators struggled to grasp the technological aspects, and I became the translator, helping them comprehend and navigate the digital landscape. 

Even today, I continue to play that role, acting as a bridge between communication professionals and technology. I have a deep understanding of how communicators think and the challenges they face, while also possessing the technical expertise to guide them. This unique combination allows me to facilitate effective communication and collaboration within teams. 

[FP] Do you find yourself flipping sides and being, you know, the communications ambassador to IT? 

[DR] Yes, absolutely. In fact, I often compare this to the historical context of the frontier of the United States opening up. It reminds me of stories where people ventured into Native American territories and became integrated into their tribes. Some of these individuals even became diplomats, bridging the gap between the two cultures. I see myself playing a similar role. People often mistake me for someone from the IT department, and I find myself frequently engaging in conversations about IT-related topics. 

[FP] I'll be completely honest with you Dante the first time I saw you present I thought you were IT 

[DR] Exactly.  

[FP] What do you what do you think the state of the relationship between IT and comms is in 2024? I'm asking to put your diplomat hat on right now. 

[DR] I have noticed a significant increase in proficiency with tools and technology among new employees, especially those from younger generations who have grown up with technology as a part of their daily lives. The benefit of this is that they are not afraid to dive right in and learn how to use these tools effectively. However, there can be challenges when it comes to aligning the expectations between IT and the business teams. 

In my experience, IT tends to be methodical and prefers to have a clear plan and requirements upfront. On the other hand, business teams often struggle to articulate their requirements effectively. It is crucial to have someone on the technology side who can have a conversation with the business teams, understand their daily operations, and why they operate in a certain way. This person should not try to change how the business operates but rather find ways to align technology solutions with their needs. 

Similarly, on the business side, it is essential to have someone who can effectively communicate with the technology team and keep everyone on the same page. Sometimes, in requirement conversations, the business person may have scattered thoughts and ideas, making it challenging to make progress. It is important to strike a balance between envisioning possibilities and focusing on practical solutions. 

Communication between IT and the business can sometimes feel like two different languages. Both sides need to make an effort to understand each other's perspectives. For example, when an executive calls the service desk with a problem, the IT team may focus on solving the immediate issue without considering the long-term implications or scalability of the solution. 

To bridge this gap, having someone on the business side who can explain the challenges and limitations of certain solutions can be beneficial. This person can help the business understand that not every problem can be solved with a simple fix and that long-term planning is necessary. 

It is important to remember that IT is not the sole responsible party. It is a partnership between IT and the business. Blaming IT for all issues is unfair, as it oversimplifies the complexities involved in technology solutions. Both sides need to work together, communicate effectively, and understand each other's needs and limitations to achieve successful outcomes. 

[RR] It's a common pattern to blame IT and technology for the failure of intranets. However, the real issue lies in not having enough people, strategy, governance, and other important factors in place. This is why most intranets get replaced after about 6 years. 

[FP] The issues you mentioned, such as temporary solutions, sprawl, and building single-task purposed systems, contribute to digital friction and the current topic of sprawl. I believe this is what we initially discussed with Dante. 

[RR] Yeah, it was about a year ago when we had back-to-back presentations. I remember you spoke about digital friction, which actually mirrored the preamble of my presentation. It was funny how we could have collaborated together. We discussed the rise of AI, app sprawl, and other related topics in the business. You bring a good argument to the table, especially in conversations with other digital workplace leaders about what they are seeing inside organizations. App sprawl is definitely happening, as businesses are driving for more spot solutions to address various needs. However, IT is on the other side of the fence, having to manage all that technology and accumulating tech debt. Do you think businesses truly appreciate the threat of digital friction? Is it something they consider a significant threat? 

[DR] I absolutely believe that it is a threat, and I don't think businesses appreciate it. More data is emerging that quantifies the cost, which is helpful. In fact, Harvard Business Review conducted a study in the last couple of years that revealed that the average corporate employee spends eight minutes per day switching between applications, resulting in a loss of eight minutes per day. When you do the math, that adds up to about 200 hours per year, which is equivalent to five weeks of time. This is a significant amount. 

[RR] Just all tabbing back and forth ping pong 

[DR] Think about how often you find yourself tabbing and realizing that it's not the one you want. The break in your concentration can be quite disruptive. While I can't recall the exact numbers from the study, there is research that shows the amount of time it takes to regain your flow after it has been interrupted. It's important to reflect on how easily our flow can be broken.  

[RR] I had the pleasure of interviewing Gloria Mark, author of the fantastic book "Attention Span," on a few podcasts ago. In her book, she presents years of research and data points on the effects of constant cognitive fragmentation and disruption on our cognition and attention. It's interesting to think about how we may not fully appreciate the impact of this, as we've become accustomed to the constant presence of technology in our lives. It's almost like being the frog or lobster in the boiling pot, slowly adapting to the changes around us without fully realizing the consequences. 

[FP] I'm curious, Dante, if you can make the case for digital friction internally. Even IT and the business are aware of it. Does making the case internally eventually lead to the idea of having a single pane of glass or a single everything app on your desktop, where you don't have more than one tab? I would like to know if you have tried pushing for this and how successful you were. All the points you mentioned are true, but has the situation reached a point where we have to deal with context switching? With information spread across various applications like Workday, SharePoint, ServiceNow, Salesforce, and Confluence, is context switching the reality we have to accept? 

[DR] To a certain degree, I believe that in the short to medium term, context switching will continue to be a challenge. However, given the rapid pace at which things are evolving, it's possible that this timeframe could be shorter. Until we reach a point where we can seamlessly communicate with advanced AI systems like Jarvis, context switching will likely persist. 

One potential cause of context switching, based on my anecdotal experience, is not the technology itself, but rather the management and accuracy of core data. Similar to the foundation of a home, if the core data is not properly maintained and cleaned, it can lead to inefficiencies and complications. For example, when toggling between tasks, I often find myself needing to insert a link from another site, which requires searching for the link and interrupting my train of thought. Additionally, when executing transactions or processes, encountering missing options or vendors in drop-down lists can be frustrating and time-consuming. This often leads to either pausing the task to figure out how to add the missing information or hastily selecting an alternative option just to proceed. 

It's worth noting that many busy managers may opt for the latter approach, choosing a different option to expedite the process. While this may seem like a practical solution in the moment, it can have negative consequences in the long run. 

Overall, these examples highlight the common challenges we all face when it comes to context switching and the impact it can have on productivity and accuracy, even in seemingly simple tasks like filling out a form.  

[FP] I'll get to it eight weeks later if I haven't gotten to it  

[DR] Exactly right. As a result, later on, somewhere down the line, when running a report on your vendor, your employee doesn't show up in that vendor report. These issues can snowball when managing core system data for thousands of people. It's challenging to find a solution for this, but I believe that until we reach a point where AI can facilitate at a basic level, such as filling out forms and addressing issues, we will continue to face these challenges. For example, imagine filling out a form and encountering an error where your vendor isn't listed. In this scenario, AI could step in and assist by either completing the form for you or reminding you to fill it out correctly within a day. This kind of AI support could potentially encourage people to follow the necessary procedures more effectively.  

[FP] So you're saying offload it to Jarvis who's standing over your shoulder, or floating over your shoulder in this case of Jarvis?  

[DR] I don't see any other way to handle this situation. We have multiple options available such as Teams, Zoom, and Microsoft 365. While having everything in one interface may seem convenient, it also comes with its own frustrations. For example, in Teams, I find it inconvenient when I'm in the middle of a chat and I receive a notification that takes me away from the chat. Although I can pop out the chat, it's still a hassle. Personally, I prefer to keep my chat separate from Teams at all times. However, I understand that others may prefer having everything in one place. The key here is finding a balance, as having everything in one interface may not be the ideal solution. 

[FP] When considering your daily routine, it's important to reflect on the time spent context switching. Throughout the day, do you find yourself primarily working in Teams, or do you frequently switch between Teams, Chrome, and other applications on your desktop? 

[DR] I go back and forth between Teams, Chrome, Outlook, and other Microsoft apps. I spend a lot of time in PowerPoint. However, I'm unsure about the solution to managing the influx of different apps. We've created a governance committee to filter new apps, but I'm not sure how to prevent app sprawl. It's important to have a strong backbone to push back on individuals who want to install or use apps that are similar to what we already have, but with reduced capabilities. It can be difficult to say no, but it's necessary. Who is responsible for this task exactly? 

It can be challenging to fully grasp the concept of digital friction and whether businesses truly appreciate its cost. One reason for this difficulty is that decision-makers, particularly executives, are often shielded from the everyday struggles faced by employees. As an executive, you are unlikely to directly experience the frustrations of using systems like HR or procurement. While it's not that you don't hear or want to address these issues, it's only when executives are forced to navigate these systems themselves that they truly understand the impact on employees. This realization often leads to swift action being taken to improve the situation. It's unfortunate that there is a disparity in how different groups within a business are treated, which contributes to the problem of digital friction. While there are certainly executives who genuinely care about understanding the employee experience, this is a general observation. 

[RR] That's a human right, isn't it? If you haven't actually walked in those shoes, you can't truly understand what it's like. You may be able to "appreciate it" from a distance, but you don't really get to witness the potential pain that people experience on a daily basis. 

[DR] Yes, exactly. That's why "Undercover Boss" is so popular. 

[RR] So, what are vendors missing? We've touched upon this before. It seems like 365 tries to be the end-all-be-all solution for your day-to-day needs, but that's not the case. It doesn't fulfill all those requirements. So, what are even spot vendors or large collaboration vendors for the digital workplace missing? What do you think they could do a better job of? 

[DR] I believe what we need most is flexibility, both in terms of the features we can enable or disable, and the ability to integrate with other systems. Specifically, I think the self-service aspect of integration should be prioritized, allowing the business to handle it without heavy reliance on IT. This would enable the business to be more independent while IT focuses on their core responsibilities. The ability for the business to make changes and adjustments without constantly going back and forth with IT would be highly beneficial. It would not only save time and effort but also reduce costs associated with involving IT for every change. It would be ideal if vendors could design systems that empower the business to handle tasks on their own, such as integrating transactions from platforms like Workday or SuccessFactors. This direction would greatly improve satisfaction for both the business and customers. Additionally, having the flexibility to easily turn features on and off is crucial. Currently, we face challenges with new tools that come with unnecessary functionalities like chat, social spaces, and personal profiles. It becomes overwhelming when every application tries to outdo each other in the same areas. This excess baggage hinders the deployment of these applications. 

[FP] How does the inclusion of additional AI impact the rollout, governance, and subsequent processes, considering that all these tools likely incorporate AI technology? 

[DR] We are currently in a phase where we are reviewing all AI-related initiatives, which means we are not implementing any AI solutions at the moment. This includes Microsoft Copilot. It is important for us to consider whether the AI component can be deactivated until we have thoroughly reviewed and ensured its acceptability. Fortunately, we haven't encountered any problems thus far with the ability to deactivate the AI component, which is a positive outcome. However, it's worth noting that we have only just begun exploring the possibilities of deploying AI. I anticipate that Microsoft Copilot will make a significant impact when we do venture into this space. 

[FP] You're doing it on the external side, correct? I'm assuming the CMO and the marketing team are implementing AI, but when you say you haven't deployed any, it's on the internal side, right? 

[DR] That's correct, I can only speak internally. I can't provide any information regarding their AI implementation from a marketing perspective. I believe you're correct. 

[FP] So, from your viewpoint, AI will be rolled out internally. It's going to happen. Are you operating under the mindset of "measure twice, cut once" and developing a policy before implementation? Or are you currently assessing the potential risks and approaching it cautiously? Do you see opportunities to take advantage of or are you primarily concerned about the risks involved? 

[DR]  I think it's a bit of both. From our perspective, we are very excited as a comms team. We have access to a small sandbox, an AI space, within the company for different teams to play around with. My senior leader is forward-thinking and believes we need to understand how to use these things to do our jobs. She is very much in favor of exploring and potentially leveraging AI. 

However, we also approach it with caution. Our intellectual property (IP) is valuable, so we must be careful. The biggest risk for us is someone taking our designs and loading them into an AI program, making them available in the cloud. This worst-case scenario is a major concern for our security teams. They want to thoroughly vet all AI tools, understand where the data goes, and ensure data security. This cautious approach is why we have been slow with adopting Copilot, for example. But once we have clearance from a security perspective, we are eager to jump right in and explore AI as a comms team. 

From a content creation perspective, I am personally interested in AI's potential to improve usability and findability. I would love to see how it can help employees find documents even if they don't know the exact name or location. I hope that AI can assist us in suggesting relevant documents to users. Overall, we are all in favor of embracing AI and its potential benefits. 

[RR] We have observed a recurring pattern in organizations that are taking a methodical approach to implementing AI. These organizations are establishing governance committees, conducting tests and trials, and exploring proof of concepts. This cautious approach is commendable as it allows for a thorough understanding of our strategy and how we should deploy AI. On the vendor side, however, there is a tendency to simply add AI as a feature without considering the overall value proposition. If every organization follows this approach, it will lead to AI friction and potential issues with information management. We are already experiencing friction on a daily basis. 

I came across some LinkedIn posts discussing the ownership of the intranet, and it's a topic that often arises in conversations with digital workplace leaders. The question is, who should own the intranet? Is it the responsibility of the business or IT? I understand that there may be some friction surrounding this issue. I would appreciate hearing your perspective on this matter, as I was unable to attend the presentation and learn more about it. 

[DR] In my presentation titled "Who Owns the Digital Workplace?", I aim to challenge the notion that IT solely owns the digital workplace. I draw an analogy between Chip and Joanna Gaines from the show "Fixer Upper" to illustrate the different roles within the digital workplace. Chip represents IT, responsible for the technical aspects and ensuring everything functions smoothly. Joanna, on the other hand, symbolizes the business side, focusing on aesthetics and user experience. 

While IT excels at maintaining infrastructure and resolving technical issues, I argue that certain aspects, such as choosing throw pillows (metaphorically speaking), should be left to the business side. This is not to undermine IT's capabilities, but rather to emphasize the importance of collaboration and recognizing each other's strengths. The Chip and Joanna Gaines analogy also highlights the partnership aspect of the digital workplace, where both sides work together towards a common goal. 

When discussing ownership, I believe it's crucial to consider different elements. Often, IT assumes ownership due to the term "digital," assuming it falls under their purview. However, I view the digital workplace as an ecosystem that revolves around people. It's not solely a technological matter. While IT plays a role in ensuring data integration and application functionality, the business should set the vision for how these tools are utilized and how the environment is structured. 

The intranet serves as a cornerstone of the digital workplace. IT takes responsibility for the technical aspects, such as data integration and application functionality. However, the business should determine the layout, information organization, and presentation style. Ideally, individuals with a knack for these aspects can bridge the gap between the business and IT, ensuring effective collaboration. 

I understand that some well-intentioned individuals on the IT side may feel defensive when discussing this topic. However, I am not suggesting taking away their responsibilities. Rather, I am emphasizing the importance of prioritizing user experience and business analysis, even during lean times. When resources are limited, it becomes evident where priorities lie. If a particular function is crucial for the business, it should consider hiring someone dedicated to that role. 

Ultimately, the business should take ownership of setting the vision and working closely with IT to create the desired digital workplace experience. This collaboration requires a relatively new skill set that may not have existed in previous generations. By recognizing the strengths of both sides and fostering effective communication, we can create a digital workplace that truly meets the needs of the organization. 

[RR]  It’s funny, you started describing it in a way that reminded me of a ship. It's interesting how, when times are good, the umbrellas are out, but when times get rough, the engineers have to go down to the boiler room, batten down the hatches, and remove all the window dressing. It's like everything unnecessary goes right off the ship. 

[DR] When you're an employee trying to get things done, the 20% gap between the solutions available and what you actually need can make a big difference. While some companies, like Disney, excel at creating amazing systems for their guests, most corporate settings settle for getting 80% of the way there. That's where the human layer comes in. I believe that having the right people in place is crucial for building a digital workplace worth bragging about. However, I've noticed that the term "digital workplace leader" is often misused. Many job descriptions labeled as digital workplace leaders are actually focused on application management or IT roles. This lack of clarity can make it challenging for organizations to find the right person for the job. 

[RR] Yeah that's a good point. The name itself, digital workplace leader, hasn't matured to the point where it's universally understood as it pertains to its role, strategy, or point of view. Let's say if you're a vendor and you're looking for a digital workplace leader well then you have to kind of go in and understand what really do you do? To your point if someone manages a service support desk, that's not a digital workplace leader. That's not someone high in the organization looking across the tech stack, the business requirements, the business needs, or the strategy asking “what are our business objectives?” and really being that anchor point between the two. Regrettably for most organizations they don't necessarily have a true digital workplace leader who is able to span both sides between the business, IT led strategy, and have that seat at the table. I'm not sure why it hasn't necessarily caught on because we have been talking about it for for years. You see it happen with many organizations where they start to stand up a strategy and a governance plan that assists the business.

What advice would you give to organizations that are looking to do better? And if someone is a digital workplace leader such as yourself, how do they begin to raise their profile or build better bridges between the business and IT? 

[DR] That's a great question. If you're in the role and have established it in some way, one of the first things I would suggest is implementing some form of governance. Start by building a small committee, primarily consisting of IT personnel. This committee should meet regularly to review feedback from all levels, including the lowest level, to ensure everyone's input is considered. By having these conversations, you can address deployment requests and gather insights from different teams. Initially, there might be some confusion about the purpose of these meetings, but as discussions progress, everyone will start to understand the direction and goals. This approach provides immediate value and helps communicate your intentions to your colleagues. 

However, a challenge you might face is determining who has the authority to make decisions. By raising this question, you can highlight the gaps and encourage others to provide answers. This process gradually emphasizes the importance of paying attention to these matters. It's important to note that this path requires explaining, re-explaining, and course correcting, rather than seeking fame and fortune. Additionally, you may encounter duplicate requests, but as you connect the dots and gain credibility, people will start coming to you in advance. This concrete approach, combined with the right contacts and initial conversations, is a great way to start. 

On a related note, I believe the concept of the digital workplace is evolving into the digital employee experience. While the former focuses on technology, the latter encompasses a broader perspective. I see this as the next iteration of my role. It involves not only regulating the technology in the workspace but also considering the overall experience employees have with digital tools and applications. Although this may not directly answer your question, I wanted to mention it as it relates to the broader scope of my responsibilities. 

[FP] From your perspective, Dante, let me recap what I think I just heard. There is currently ambiguity around the term "digital workplace leader." It could refer to various aspects such as communications and intranets, but it could also encompass the responsibility of keeping the digital environment functional. However, what you're suggesting is that there should be a focus on a "digital employee experience leader," which is more about the day-to-day working environment. In your view, is this role about establishing a peer relationship and fostering collaboration, or is it more about a one-sided approach? Is it more like "Harry Met Sally" or "War of the Worlds"? 

[DR] It's a great question, and honestly, I haven't thought that far ahead. If the digital workplace becomes primarily an IT role focused on application management, then it should be considered a peer partnership role within IT, in my opinion. However, if it's more about the experiential aspect, then it might just be a different name for the same work. In that case, you may not necessarily need a separate digital workplace leader. Instead, you could have an intranet manager and someone dedicated to managing collaboration tools, for example. 

[FP] Now, let's consider the metric they are trying to drive up in the context of a digital workplace experience leader. For the role of "keeping the lights on," the metric would be ensuring that everything is running smoothly and all systems are functioning properly. However, in the realm of a digital workplace experience leader, what would be their Northstar metric? What are they aiming to achieve? 

[DR] In all likelihood, the content will be similar to a regular Employee Engagement survey. It will track Employee Engagement and include questions related to Communications. It is important to correlate these questions with communication goals, such as knowing what's going on across the company and feeling well informed. Including experiential questions within the survey can provide even better insights, such as asking employees if they are proud to work here or if it is easy to do their job on a day-to-day basis. 

Another approach worth considering is conducting a communication survey. This type of survey asks specific and pointed questions, such as whether employees know what tools are available, if they find them easy to work with, or if they feel overwhelmed by applications. This allows for direct feedback from employees. 

However, surveys are only part of the equation. Technologies that can track the real behavior of employees are also important. These technologies can provide insights into what employees are saying and how they feel. For example, some technologies can track the percentage of posts in teams that include an "at mention." Setting a target for this metric can help gauge employee engagement. Additionally, tracking the use of question marks in chats, the increase in chats, or the decrease in emails can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of communication efforts. 

The availability of metrics that measure real behavior is improving, making it easier to quantify the value of communication efforts. Demonstrating knowledgeable usage of technologies can be a valuable metric. There are tools available that can track and analyze these metrics. 

[FP] I'm glad you brought up this point because it seems like you're seeking evidence that the workplace is indeed excellent and user-friendly, with all the necessary tools in place. I was going to ask if you believe that the experience leader should ultimately be responsible for tracking retention. My assumption is that retention falls under their purview, but if the tools are easy to use, it becomes the company's responsibility to ensure employee retention. Do you view retention as part of the company's overall mission? 

[DR] I believe it is a part of the overall mission, but not a significant one. While being frustrated by tools at work can be a source of frustration and potentially make it easier to leave, I don't think it surpasses the impact of having a poor manager or simply not liking the company as the main reasons for employee turnover. 

[FP] I recently heard a similar sentiment in Dallas a few weeks ago: "Your digital experience is your manager, and your manager is your digital experience." In other words, if you have a great manager, your digital experience will be positive regardless of the tools. Conversely, if you have an awful manager, it won't matter how good your digital experience is.  

[DR] I would love to see experience as part of what makes these intangible aspects difficult to measure. Sentiment and how people feel about something can only be gauged based on what they express, and tracking their behaviors can provide some insights. However, factors like employee retention and recruitment can also indicate the quality of a workplace. For instance, many tools now allow for employee advocacy, where articles from the internal intranet can be shared on personal social media networks to showcase the positive aspects of the organization. This can contribute to recruitment efforts and potentially increase subscriptions on platforms like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and even Instagram for brand promotion. While it may be challenging to make a significant impact on well-established Instagram accounts, there are still opportunities to explore new and creative ways to improve and enhance the organization's presence. 

[RR] And that's a data point of engagement as well. If you're an organization that is engaged, I'm more likely to share that content with my social network. On the other hand, if I'm a disengaged employee, you can pretty much guarantee that isn't going to happen. They're not going to be going out there promoting and being a strong advocate and champion for the brand and the product. They're probably spending their time thinking about ways of getting out, as opposed to promotion. This can be a nice measure in accordance with eNPS, as I'm sure there's some correlation between the two. 

Looking ahead, Dante, into the future, we talked a bit about AI. But what emerging technologies and trends do you see that should be top-of-mind for digital workplace leaders? We discussed metrics and governance strategy AI, but what do you think is around the corner or even potentially some threats to the digital workplace that perhaps we haven't discussed? 

 [DR] I believe that the technologies focused on simplifying administration and enabling self-service from business owners rather than IT are significant. It's like the internet being a house, where more and more applications require less involvement from IT teams. Instead, they handle the essential connections like electrical and plumbing, while the internal management can be done by the administrators themselves. This shift is beneficial because IT teams are often overwhelmed, and every change becomes a major undertaking if they need to be involved. 

Another crucial aspect is the ability to reach employees regardless of the application they are using. When I first learned about Workgrid and how it operates within the browser, I was impressed. It doesn't matter which intranet or HR system I have; Workgrid meets me where I am every day. I no longer need to create pages or links on my intranet to access tasks from different applications. It would be even more convenient if someone developed a desktop app that functions in a similar way, eliminating the need to open a browser for these tasks. 

Overall, the more technology can seamlessly integrate with different applications and provide a unified interface, the better it will be for users. 

 [FP] It's interesting, Dante, that you're now dating yourself because you are that desktop user. You know, your kids are probably wondering why they have to use a device that won't fit in one hand. Somewhere in between, there are people who simply open up the computer and use it to fire up a browser, without really understanding the operating system underneath it. 

[DR] Fair enough guilty is charged  

[RR] You raise an excellent point about the importance of humane technology. Our focus has always been on providing a humane approach to employee well-being, rather than using it as a means to sell our services or products. Unlike many SaaS vendors who prioritize product utilization and consumption, we believe that technology should aim to minimize digital friction and enhance the employee experience across various applications and vendors. It is crucial to create technology that aligns with the employee's journey, rather than solely focusing on what the technology itself offers. This shift towards a more employee-centric approach may seem ambitious, but it is necessary for fostering a harmonious and productive work environment.  

[DR] I think you're onto something. One of the biggest obstacles to improving the user experience from an enterprise perspective is the extensive effort required to make these platforms work as intended. This process, often referred to as "boiling the ocean," involves making significant data changes such as adding or modifying fields. In an enterprise with tens of thousands of employees, these changes can be massive undertakings. 

As a result, many companies are forced to forgo certain features or find workarounds. For example, a promising feature may require employees to visit another website for approval, limiting its usability. This challenge persists because integrating data from different systems is often difficult due to differences in how the data is structured and interpreted. 

To address this challenge, it would be beneficial to provide employees with the necessary information without requiring extensive application modifications. By finding a way to bridge the gap between different systems and their respective data points, we can make significant progress in improving the user experience. 

[RR] Well hopefully we start moving in that direction. 

[DR] It's amusing because one of the things about AI that concerns me, and it may just reflect my lack of understanding of how it works, is that AI can solve a problem for you without considering the long-term implications or scalability of the solution. So, in theory, you could have AI designing processes and flows for people all the time, but it would never recognize that it's essentially doing the same thing repeatedly. I'm unsure how it would be possible to build this at an enterprise level. 

[FP] In a world where everyone has built their own bots, a fascinating concept emerges: the war of the Bots. AI sprawl has taken over, and it's intriguing to see the various experiments being conducted. One such experiment involves regenerative AI building code. While some of these experiments show promise, others fall short. Unfortunately, none of them have been properly documented or undergone code review. 

[DR] Yeah, exactly right. But now, when you make that available to the business, you'll have people building mini apps all over the place. I don't mean to sound doom and gloom about it, but it's something I don't quite understand. I don't know how it's going to land when we start making AI available through all these different tools. 

[RR] Dante, thank you for joining us on the show today. We would love for our audience to learn more about Tapestry and yourself. 

[DR] If you have social media accounts, please feel free to connect with me. You can find me on LinkedIn as Dante Ragazzo. I believe I'm one of a kind.  To learn more about Tapestry, visit our website at tapestry.com. You can also follow us on Instagram, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn. Don't forget to give our brands - Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman - a follow as well. 

This blog was adapted from The Workgrid, a podcast about the digital workplace, technology, and everything in between. For the complete episode, please visit: Balancing the Needs of IT and the Business

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