It’s about people.

Welcome to my first blog as CEO of Acendre. As a thirty-year software industry veteran and founder of the Xbox and HBO GO, I have spent years studying and creating products that engage and entertain people. In joining Acendre, I am now turning my attention to what I feel is a great company working to address a vastly under-developed opportunity to improve the intersection of software and the evolving human face of the modern workplace.

We live in a fast-paced, rapidly-changing world. That’s what all the pundits say. But let me share a really interesting statistic. In the early 2000’s, there were over 84 million Xbox 360 consoles sold, and about 87 million PlayStation 3s. Yet, if we look back, the Atari 2600 released in 1977 sold around 30 million units. That’s over 40 years ago when video game technology was still in the Stone Ages.

Yes, the kinds of games played have evolved dramatically, from Codebreaker and Capture the Flag on the early Atari to Halo and Call of Duty today. And games will continue to evolve with even more advanced consoles, AR and VR, and cloud-native games that are only limited by our imagination. But while the experience has improved remarkably, the underlying process is really still all about humans making choices around their leisure time.

You’re probably thinking, what does this have to do with the workplace and the people in it? Well, the Xbox brought an enhanced living room experience to the world. In joining Acendre, I want to start working on how we bring an enhanced life experience to the workplace. The workplace of the future, as we are increasingly told, is all about automation, artificial intelligence, robotics, cobotics, crowdsourcing, analytics, and so on. While those may (or may not be) tools that can enhance the workplace experience, the process at the heart of the new workplace is not that different from the old workplace: humans making choices to engage (or sometimes disengage) with an organization’s mission and purpose.

If modern technology can make it easier for human beings to engage with their work – whether by being attracted to an organization in the first place, developing their skills as they move through their working life, or making that very conscious decision to stay engaged with the organization even as it too evolves – then it is a valuable tool. If it’s just technology for technology’s sake, or worse, over-complicated technology that makes it more difficult to engage with an organization’s reason for being, then it’s not worth much to the humans who use it. And you can be sure that eventually, they will make different choices.

To a workplace technology consumer, it’s literally like that ancient game of Asteroids played on the Atari 2600. New buzz phrases and “digital workplace revolutions” are coming at you faster than you can possibly imagine. Why was Asteroids so successful? Because it counted on catching you off guard. A new asteroid to the left meant you had to take your eye off the asteroid to the right. Sound familiar? Yes, the speed of technology has changed greatly, but the speed of people and how they connect emotionally with their work has not changed that much – even including Millennials – since the beginning of work itself. My goal at Acendre is to help build tools to help organizations connect their mission and purpose with their people – it’s not about digitizing humans, it’s about humanizing digital. Thanks for reading and more to come.

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