Employee Engagement top of agenda this year at smileexpo 2018

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Delegates at smileexpo 2018

On Monday we hosted our third – and biggest yet –  smileexpo conference.  This popular format packs in plenty of hands-on training and practical case study examples.  It was a day of discovery and discussion for 170 communicators, with no fewer than 15 workshops and masterclasses designed to share and explore the latest thinking on key IC issues and digital workplace technologies.

Angela Evans, Microsoft
Angela Evans, Microsoft

With 80% of our members on or moving to O365 in the cloud this year, we put Microsoft at the top of our agenda as Gold Sponsor. Angela Evans, Office Business Group Lead for the UK, in her keynote speech spoke about employee engagement in an era of change. Rather heartening was the fact that she presented a rather more straightforward view of O365 choosing to focus far more on the cultural transformation required for digital transformation success, rather than the technology itself:

“Culture is the currency of digital transformation,”

“Culture is the currency of digital transformation” Angela told us, and this theme trickled throughout the day in an impressive Microsoft Theatre that ran a series of sessions bringing to life the very many ways in which the O365 tools help employees work better together, and achieve more.

Microsoft Theatre at smileexpo 2018
Microsoft Theatre at smileexpo 2018
Gemma Saint and Steve Gilbert, B&Q
Gemma Saint and Steve Gilbert, B&Q

I especially enjoyed hearing how B&Q are rolling out Yammer as the beginning of their digital transformation.  Yammer has come in for a bit of a bashing in the last couple of years but in the right hands – and that’s probably not your IT department! – and with the right objectives, it can prove to be the ideal Trojan Horse to kick start a cultural revolution in your business.  (We will bring you that case study in a later edition complete with a brilliant story of how they wheeled out a successful sales idea!) You can watch the recording of the plenary session here, including the B&Q case study: 

smileexpo18: Microsoft Keynote from simply-communicate on Vimeo.

Angela Evans, Office Business Group Lead for the UK .
Learn about how Microsoft drink their own champagne using Teams, SharePoint and Yammer.

Also joining this session for a panel on O365 adoption are Neil Barnett, Senior Digital Communications Manager at Heathrow, Steve Gilbert of B&Q and Gemma Saint, Digital Communications Specialist at Kingfisher.

Sonia Rosua-Clyne at smileexpo 2018
Sonia Rosua-Clyne, Sage, at smileexpo 2018

At last year’s expo we looked at social amplification as the new kid on the digital block. One of the most popular sessions this time was the lively presentation on Sage Voices for Advocacy from Sonia Rosua-Clyne, Sage UK’s Global Advocacy Manager, and Dynamic Signal. It’s another story we will feature here very soon.

An interactive session led by Lithos Partners on the employee experience proved popular too, exploring the business case for considering the technology environment alongside the cultural and physical environments when it comes to employee experience. Anything that hides the complexity of the underlying technologies can only be a good thing, be that an intranet portal, a bot or API driven services. This tied in well with one of the headline-grabbing assertions from the introductory session from our own Marc Wright that, “ 2018 is the year of integrations.”

As well as case studies (such as Heathrow Airport, here) that demonstrate how the right technology changes behaviour in some of the world’s most well-known organisations, other sessions made us think about the underlying strategies that impact employee engagement and productivity. Organisational change, community management, getting the narrative right, giving all employees a voice, and connecting the c-suite with the front line are everyday items on an IC to-do list. What smileexpo does is shine a spotlight on how technology can help, allowing us to look closely at the latest platforms, tools and apps that are taking the friction out of day to day tasks and shaping the new world of work.

delegates at smileexpo 2018

As usual, the day’s workshops were clustered around three core themes: Platforms, Apps & Bots and Engagement. Like all good menus, there just is not enough opportunity to try everything in one day. Our guests are forced to make some tough choices, hopefully informed by how much digital transformation know-how they have already consumed.

We were joined by many well-known influencers in the IC and digital workplace fields, making it certainly one of the key events in the IC calendar. If you missed this event, highlights from the days’ Twitter feed can be seen here and we look forward to welcoming many of you back again in November to smilelondon.