Work imitates life: Personal digital experiences - Part 1

Posted on: September 13, 2018 by Mike Harm

This blog is part of a 3-part series on ambience and context in personal digital experiences, and how they enable productivity.

Disruptive pizza

The first time I ordered pizza from an app and eagerly monitored its progress with my kids, we were all in equal wonder. They wondered why I didn’t order extra cheese, while I wondered how to bring a similar technology experience to the office. (Scheduling meeting spaces? New employee setup? Picking up where I left off if I got distracted? Lots of possibilities!)

Good UX bubbles over b2b/b2c boundaries

Now, when we order pizza, the kids expect — nay, demand to know the status of each checkpoint. Is it in the oven yet? Is it on its way? These little micro-managers have a very different view of how ordering and demand work due to tools like this, and they’ll be the norm of the corporate employee in a few short years. Not to mention that technology like this saves time by knowing who I am when I start the ordering process. My local pizza parlor is improving efficiency and keeping costs under control by having my address, directions to my home and other contextual data readily available. The pies are perfection, but the user experience is what makes it so easy to tap the Order button: convenience, choice and efficiency.

This very phenomenon is disrupting workplaces in every business sector around the world. It’s a primary driver of workplace modernization initiatives: Personal digital experiences and process/context visibility are shaping employee demands as well as customer expectations.

The Harm household’s digital transformation, a case study

If you’ve read anything else I’ve written, you’ll know that I’m a tech enthusiast – some would call me a major device nerd – it’s who I am. In addition to smart pizza ordering, my home was quick to adopt voice-activated speakers and virtual assistants (VAs) along with all the smart devices that go with them to create a true smart home. The family is already quite used to the experience of asking an assistant to take care of little tasks: Order dog food. Pause the movie. Unlock the front door for that pizza guy. Call Grandpa on his mobile. My kids use fewer devices than I do to create and consume content, but it seldom matters to their digital experience. They have their interactions with the ambient environment around them. They can have that experience in various rooms on various devices, as their activities and preferences (their contexts) are starting to follow them. Like many households, ours has truly moved from an app-based ecosystem to one where the skills of our assistants are vital to our tasks at hand.

Context and ambience at work

These digital experiences aren’t limited to smart homes. Microsoft and Google have created platforms for enterprise employees to have contextual, ambient experiences by giving an identity the power to roam and bring with it personalization and content wherever work is performed. Examples of this can be seen in unified communication and collaboration (UCC) and cloud-based productivity technologies like Office 365 or GSuite.

Within this context, there can also now be a set of discovered elements about the user. Who they are, what they last did, what they are working on now. How likely are they to need certain content based on their meeting schedule? These user contexts have always been possible on enterprise machines assigned to the employee through the use of graphical user interfaces and local storage organizations such as the local Windows User Profile. The difference now is that we’re not looking at an enterprise vs. consumer way of doing things anymore. There’s a digital experience that I can have in my personal life and at work. Sometimes on the same device, or no device at all.

My next post will follow our context as it follows us at the office, quietly improving our productivity behind the scenes with automation and AI.


Mike is part of the Atos Expert Community which aims at helping to steer Atos business strategy; building its technology roadmap anticipating the products and services that will be needed by the market. The 1st Atos expert convention will take place next week from 19 to 21 September in Madrid. Follow us on #YourExpert.

Share this blog article

About Mike Harm
Chief Technology Officer – Workplace and member of the Scientific Community
Mike Harm is the Chief Technology Officer for the Workplace domain at Atos and has spent over 20 years providing, designing, implementing and envisioning differentiated workplace services in partnership with clients worldwide. With a background that spans support services, process engineering, IT Service Management, systems engineering and innovation product management, he is passionately connected to the technological, behavioral, and procedural pulse of the user experience from end-to-end. He is a member of the Atos Scientific Community where he explores the impact of digitization on the human experience, the future of work, and new concepts of productivity and employment emerging from digital trends. In his role at Atos, he is responsible for technology partnerships, supplier strategic relationships, overall workplace vision and strategy as well as delivery technology policy in the workplace domain and adherence enforcement to those policies throughout service and product development lifecycle.

Follow or contact Mike