4 themes from #DEX2019

The 2019 Digital Employee Experience (DEX) conference was a feast for intranet, digital workplace and employee experience professionals. I’ve picked out 4 themes which stood out to me over the 2 days and 4 streams of local and international DEX content.

I’ll start at the end with a quote from Step Two Managing Director James Robertson.

Modern intranets play an important role in organisations, delivering key services, and providing an enterprise front door.

Intranets, the enterprise front door, enterprise collaboration, design thinking and change management were common threads across most presentations. These are now seen as essential, business-as-usual activities where leading organisations reap the benefits of good investment.

For me, 4 themes stood out for their innovation or strength in the program:

  • Microservices
  • HR and DEX
  • Microsoft 365
  • DEX > EX > CX

For a visual overview of the presentations I attended see my previous blog posts:

Here is my take on the 4 themes.


An impressive and emerging theme was the use of microservices to bring together content from multiple systems in a user friendly way to present a true ‘single pane of glass’ for the digital workplace.

Christy Punch from Wells Fargo took us through their work creating an intranet portal which pulled together the numerous tools their team use to do their job in a way that is relevant and easier to manage.

Janine Marchi and the team at Liberty Mutual took a microservices approach from a different and equally successful angle. With their model pulling services together into an ‘enterprise digital assistant’ that sits along side the intranet to provide relevant content.

The clear benefits from both of these case studies were:

  • Personalisation
  • True ‘single pane of glass’
  • Ease of management
  • Scalability
  • Business enablement

HR and DEX

Not really a new or emerging topic, but a strong theme for me this year. As we take an even higher view of the digital workplace to encompass the experience of employees the role of HR is obvious, but in practice can be very disconnected unless HR is taking the lead.

Tatiana Russinova had to do some convincing to answer the question “How can a girl from HR run an intranet project?”.

Nigel Williams from Interact UK put the spotlight on onboarding as an opportunity for digital employee experience. Given that 44% Australian candidates have a poor onboarding experience it’s clear to see that there are some benefits to gain and probably quick wins to have.

Lisa Ryman from the Department of Human Services was inspired by last years DEX conference and featured this year presenting the work they did in 12 months to provide a connected experience and redesign of HR services. Her case study shows the power of what can be achieved with a strong strategy.

James Robertson’s DEX definition in his closing keynote is an apt summary of why HR should play a key role:

Digital Employee Experience (DEX) is the sum total of the digital interactions within the work environment.

Microsoft 365

It’s not the first time that Microsoft tools have features at the DEX conference which is traditionally (and thankfully) vendor agnostic. But the prevalence of SharePoint, SharePoint Online, Office 365 and the new mantle of Microsoft 365 as the overarching term, it is hard to avoid it coming up.

Microsoft Teams was notably absent from the sessions I attended. Even where organisations were using Microsoft 365 it seems that Yammer is more prevalent and Teams is not in use or experimental.


Wells Fargo have built their digital workplace as a microservices solution, but SharePoint is a key component as the content management system behind the scenes.

Pip Cleaves from the Department of Education showed how they use SharePoint Online as the platform for supporting 80,000 educators with a community learning library.


Proving that Yammer is not dead, several case studies included strong Yammer networks including Suncorp, NRMA and KFC. Enterprise social fundamentals were reinforced by experts Rita Zonius and SWOOPanalytics.

Office 365

Michael Sampson’s day 2 keynote honed in on how we can demonstrate much better return on investment with Office 365 than simple (and misleading) time saved metrics.

Delia Cato shared the Foodstuffs NZ case study where they moved from email and network drives to Office 365 for their geographically diverse support team.


Kat Fricker from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development gave visually engaging examples of how PowerBI can be used to present data that executives will want to see.


Pete Johns from NRMA, one of the few people at the conference with digital employee experience in his title, presented their simple model for digital employee experience. This model was the driver behind their highly successful journey.

Pete Johns referenced a fantastic quote:

Your customer experience will never be better than what your employee experience was designed to deliver – Mike Hohnen

Backed up by James Robertson in his closing keynote, and evident in the name of the conference. Digital employee experience is here to stay, it is a lynch pin of employee experience and its success is essential to customer experience.



Further DEX references

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