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Phil  Simon

Phil Simon

Workplace-Technology Guru & Award-Winning Author


Phil Simon sits squarely at the intersection of business, technology, data, and people. He is a dynamic keynote speaker and one of the world’s most renowned recognized authorities on collaboration, technology, and analytics. He is the award-winning author of 14 books, most recently The Nine: The Tectonic Forces Reshaping the Workplace. Read More >

Over the course of his career, he has spoken at more than 35,000 people in 350 in-person and virtual events in eight countries on three continents. Netflix, Harvard Business School, eBay, Cisco, IBM, Carnegie Mellon, SAS, and AutoDesk are among the hundreds of companies to have hosted Phil.

Topics have included business communication, collaboration, analytics, Big Data, data visualization, disruption, and nascent trends.

A former college professor, today he helps organizations communicate, collaborate, and use technology better. Harvard Business Review, the MIT Sloan Management Review, Wired, NBC, CNBC, BusinessWeek, and The New York Times have featured his contributions. He also hosts the podcast Conversations About Collaboration.

Simon received his undergraduate degree in Policy & Management from Carnegie Mellon University in 1993. He then attended Cornell University, receiving his masters in Industrial and Labor Relations in 1997. He enjoys tennis, obscure quotes, poker, reading, and progressive rock. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Project Management in the Hybrid Workplace

Speaker Reel

7 Questions About Big Data | Course Hero

Collabosphere 2015: 7 Rules for Fixing Broken Business Communication

The Visual Organizations: Data Visualization and Big Data for Better Decision | Harvard Business Review

The Culture of Analytics

Management Is Not a Science


Speech Topics

The Nine: The Tectonic Forces Reshaping the Workplace

As COVID-19 has receded, companies such as Apple, Amazon, Google, Salesforce, and Twitter have severely restricted or even eliminated remote work. Ditto for countless, less iconic firms and small businesses. At a high level, executives and managers at these organizations are trying to turn back the clock to 2019. Read More >

There’s just one problem, though: For a bevy of reasons, they won’t succeed.

In many ways, the workplace of 2023 already differs from its pre-pandemic counterpart. In some cases, it’s downright unrecognizable. What’s more, this gap will only intensify in the coming years. Blame—or thank, if you like—powerful economic, societal, geopolitical, and technological forces. They include generative AI, automation, dispersed workforces, blockchain, immersive technologies, employee empowerment, and the return of systemic inflation.

Brass tacks: The workplace is undergoing a massive, irrevocable shift. The only question for business leaders is, What should you do about it?

The workplace of 2023 already differs from its pre-pandemic counterpart.

I answer this question in my talk about my new book, The Nine: The Tectonic Forces Reshaping the Workplace. I peer into the dizzying and chaotic future of work. In the process, I slice through the hype surrounding nascent trends and newfangled technologies.

In this insightful, timely, and essential talk, I clearly explain what’s really happening, why, and how business leaders can navigate the dramatically different workplace of the future.

What Attendees Will Learn

In this talk, I answer the following questions:

  • Is the empowered employee here to stay?
  • How are Cisco, Dropbox, and LinkedIn reimaging their workspaces?
  • Will inflation revert to the microscopic levels of the previous decade?
  • How Uber and other companies have saved millions via automation?
  • What are the threats and opportunities that generative AI tools pose?
  • Why will blockchain quickly become essential in the workplace?
  • Have immersive technologies such as AR, VR, and MR finally matured enough to make a difference?
  • Why are fractions so important to the future of work?
  • Will analytics on steroids will do more harm than good?

And more. Read Less ^

Low Code/No-Code: Citizen Developers & the Surprising Future of Business Applications

For decades, our relationship with workplace technology has been, in a word, complicated. The pandemic only made it more so. Read More >

The stats are astonishing. Two in three employers cannot find qualified candidates to fill their open IT positions. By 2024, the deficit of software developers in the US alone will hit 500,000. Supply and demand for techies are out of whack and, most alarmingly, there’s no end in sight.

The effects of this labor-market imbalance are profound and difficult to overstate. Nearly three in four technology leaders cannot focus on their strategic priorities. Countless other firms, departments, teams, and leaders have struggled because IT can’t deliver the tools they so desperately need. Adding salt to the wound, business units now need new applications to address the logistical challenges posed by pervasive remote and hybrid work.

Brass tacks: Organizations are at a crossroads. They need to solve these thorny tech problems. Now. But how?

In this talk, Simon draws upon his research and new book Low-Code/No-Code: Citizen Developers and the Surprising Future of Business Applications. He explains how, thanks to powerful new tools and a new breed of employees, organizations are finally fulfilling critical business needs and reducing their reliance on pricey software developers. Read Less ^

Project Management in the Hybrid Workplace

In this timely talk based upon his new book Project Management in the Hybrid Workplace, Phil explains how the world of project management has changed—for good. He offers a number of prescriptions for PMs, team leads, product owners, and service providers to improve their batting averages.

Reimagining Collaboration & The Future of Work

When it comes to remote work, Covid-19 didn’t change anything; it only accelerated changes that were already taking place. Read More >

When offices closed and people started wearing masks, relatively few organizations were able to continue without significant interruption. Indeed, Basecamp and Automattic were the exceptions that proved the rule.

Most were wholly unprepared for the massive changes that they had to face:

  • They relied upon email for internal “collaboration”
  • They continued to rely upon legacy business processes and mind-sets
  • They hadn’t built up a remote-first muscle memory

Most still haven’t—and that’s a big deal. The future of work will be a hybrid one.

What Attendees Will Learn

In this talk, Simon provides the context to understand the problem. After setting the table, he’ll offer meaningful solutions about how organizations can turn this crisis into the massive opportunity that it is. Specifically, by embracing the Hub-Spoke Model of Collaboration, they can realize a number of benefits: Read Less ^

  • How to make employees vastly more productive.
  • How to unleash the power of their software in a way that they currently cannot.
  • How to create powerful knowledge repositories.
  • How to existing business processes.
  • How to build the foundation for future machine-learning and AI enhancements.
  • And more.

What Is Big Data?

It seems to be a really big deal, but how do we separate the hype from the reality? Read More >

To be sure, Big Data—the massive amounts of largely unstructured information flying at us faster than ever—offers tremendous promise. Unfortunately, there’s just as much hype and confusion around the topic. As a result, many chief execs are justifiably weary of the subject. Few want to spend millions of dollars on another failed “IT project.”

What to do?

In this talk, Simon highlights the main points from his 2013 book Too Big to Ignore.

What Attendees Will Learn

In this talk, Simon answers the following questions: Read Less ^

  • Forget all of the jargon and technical terms. In plain English, just what is Big Data, anyway?
  • What are its major characteristics?
  • How does it differ from traditional enterprise data?
  • Which companies have pulled ahead from the rest and what can we learn from them??
  • Is data really the new oil?
  • What are some of Big Data’s biggest opportunities?
  • What about the pitfalls (re: privacy and security concerns, the limitations of data, etc.)?
  • What’s on the horizon?

Agile Analytics

As it turns out, data folks can learn quite a bit from their counterparts in software development. Agile methods such as Scrum can help organizations turn their data into knowledge, insights, and action. Read More >

Few intelligent business folks doubt the importance of analytics these days. Moneyball didn’t exactly drop last year. Just about all CXOs say that data is their organization’s most important asset—or at least one of them.

Paradoxically, though, relatively few firms have moved from theory to practice. Why is this the case?

In this talk, Simon draws upon lessons from his 2017 book Analytics: The Agile Way.

What Attendees Will Learn
In this talk, Simon incorporates lessons from his eighth book Analytics: The Agile Way. He answers questions such as: Read Less ^

  • Why have most organizations’ analytics efforts struggled to deliver?
  • Why is it more important than ever to adopt an analytics mind-set?
  • How can Agile methods such as Scrum help our organization quickly find meaningful insights?
  • What can we learn from Google, Nextdoor, Foursquare, and other organizations that have embraced Agile analytics?
  • What are the key mistakes to avoid in adopting Agile methods?

How to Build a Culture of Analytics

Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, and Google are among the elite companies that excel at analytics. Trust Phil Simon: Each did not hit the switch overnight. Rather, they have carefully cultivated cultures predicated on data analysis. In this talk, Simon explains how. Read More >

The business world is abuzz with talk of a powerful yet amorphous term: analytics. Achieving the Holy Grail of data-based decision-making, though, is far easier said than done.

Plenty of people hate making decisions based upon anything data-related. Read Moneyball if you don’t believe Simon. This disease isn’t just confined to sports. He has seen it in healthcare, publishing, retail, and just about every industry you can imagine.

In many hidebound organizations, employees act as if they just know what’s best—data and analytics be damned. They refuse to listen to numbers, opting instead for their experiences and opinions.

This unwillingness to look at things differently doesn’t these folks evil; it just makes them human. Unfortunately, dataphobes are likely to squander promising business opportunities. They frequently make decisions based upon incomplete information. They often fail to see problems until they have become full-blown crises.

What Attendees Will Learn

In this talk, Simon draws upon my extensive research of organizations that have moved from theory to practice. They include Amazon, Netflix, eBay, Google, Facebook, eBay, Twitter, and others. He answers the following questions and more: Read Less ^

  • What exactly is a culture of analytics?
  • What are the benefits of building one?
  • Why is building a culture of analytics so essential today?
  • Are modern-day analytics really different than their predecessors? If so, then how?
  • Which companies have already built a culture of analytics?
  • How can I build (a better) one in my organization?
  • Are there any downsides here?
  • What does all of this mean for the future?

The Power of Contemporary Platforms

It’s not understatement to claim that the platform is the important, powerful, and controversial business model of the millennium. In this talk, Simon explains how even small businesses can learn a great deal from the Gang of Four. Read More >

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are extremely successful for many reasons, but make no mistake: their underlying business model is at the top of the list. Each embraced platform thinking and has made billions of dollars in the process. Fortunately, there’s a great deal that every organization can learn from “the Gang of Four.”

In one of his most popular talks, Simon draws upon the lessons from his award-winning book The Age of the Platform: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Have Redefined Business.

What Attendees Will Learn

Simon answers the following questions and more: Read Less ^

  • Beyond perhaps the most pervasive buzzword in the business lexicon today, just what is a platform anyway?
  • What are planks, anyway? How do they extend the power of platforms?
  • What’s all of this hubbub about ecosystems?
  • How can application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) attract external developers and ultimately fuel innovation?
  • What are the greatest benefits of—and downsides to—platform thinking?
  • Other than “the Gang of Four”, which new platforms are potentially the most powerful?
  • Why are frenemies here to stay?

How to Fix Business Communication

Thanks to a tsunami of email and jargon, how we’re working just isn’t working. Fortunately, the solution to each problem is well within our grasp. Read More >

Generally speaking, business communication today is nothing short of dismal, but you probably don’t need Phil Simon to tell you that. You live it every day. A tsunami of inscrutable e-mails inhibits productivity in your organization. And then there’s the jargon. Oh, the jargon. What exactly are next-generation Big Data cloud platforms and holistic form factors anyway?

Fortunately, all hope is not lost.

In this talk, Simon draws upon his award-winning book Message Not Received: Why Business Communication Is Broken and How to Fix It.

What Attendees Will Learn

In this talk, Simon answers the following questions: Read Less ^

  • Why is business communication so badly broken? How did it get this way?
  • Why do we blame technology (e-mail) when we really ought to be looking in the mirror?
  • Why is business jargon on the rise?
  • What are the effects of excessive e-mail and jargon?
  • Are there solutions to these problems? What are they?
  • Can improved internal communication improve my bottom line?
  • Which companies have adopted truly collaborative tools and what can we learn from them?

What’s Next? Current & Future Trends

Where is all of this technology and data taking us? What can we best do to prepare for an increasingly tech- and data-oriented future? In this talk, Simon puts on his swami hat. Read More >

We are living in an era marked by accelerating technological, political, and social change. Odds are that this scares you, not to mention many business folks who are far more comfortable with stability and predictability.

Make no mistake: Today disruption is everywhere. Competition is coming faster than ever, and often from unexpected sources such as Uber (taxis), AirBNB (hotels), and the like. As the Chinese say, however, in crisis there lies enormous opportunity.

What Attendees Will Learn

In this talk, Simon answers the following questions and more: Read Less ^

  • Why has the long term never been shorter?
  • What trends are causing all of this change?
  • Why are the costs of inaction greater than the costs of action?
  • What can my organization do to best prepare for this change?
  • What types of partnerships should my organization pursue?
  • Which skills are essential nowadays? What about five years down the road?

Successfully Adopting Microsoft Teams or Slack

Microsoft Teams and Slack can change the way that groups, departments, divisions, and even entire organizations work—and for the better. Read More >

There’s often a chasm, however, between can and will.

Like many contemporary technologies, Microsoft Teams and Slack benefit from network effects. According to Metcalfe’s Law, every employee who fails to use a tool makes it that much less valuable. And the damage continues: By refusing to get on board, stragglers and laggards bifurcate knowledge, confuse others, add friction, poison the culture, and thwart efforts to build a comprehensive knowledge base.

This. Is. A. Big. Deal.

In this talk, Simon discusses the difficulty of getting employees to use and even embrace internal collaboration hubs. He explains why, when it comes to how they work, many employees are stuck in their old ways. He also offers a number of techniques designed to maximize the chance that these powerful hubs take root in your organization.

What Attendees Will Learn

Simon answers the following questions: Read Less ^

  • What are the common objections that employees present to using these tools?
  • Why do organizations need to get all of their employees off of email?
  • How does limited of these tools adoption hinder an organization? (TL;DR: Deeply and in many ways.)
  • What are some of the challenges that organizations of my size can expect to face?
  • What are the different adoption approaches?
  • Which ones are most effective for your organization?
  • What about leaders? Are they exempt from using Teams, Slack, or another hub?
  • What types of carrots and sticks can organizations and managers use?
  • Which employees are most likely to resist using these tools?
  • How to deal with recalcitrant employees?

Becoming a Visual Organization

Yeah, Big Data has arrived, but relatively few organizations are doing very much with it. This begs the natural question, Why? Read More >

Spreadsheets, dashboards, relational databases, and even traditional business-intelligence (BI) tools of the 1990s and 2000s aren’t remotely equipped to handle today’s massive amounts and disparate types of data.

Fortunately, all hope isn’t lost.

New, robust, and, interactive data-visualization applications are helping even non-technical employees find the signal in the noise, embrace data discovery, and make better business decisions. In a word, organizations such as Netflix, eBay, and Twitter are becoming more visual.

In this talk, Simon draws upon the lessons from his 2014 book The Visual Organization: Data Visualization, Big Data, and the Quest for Better Decisions.

What Attendees Will Learn

In this talk, Simon answers the following questions: Read Less ^

  • Why is dataviz more important than ever?
  • Why are static pie charts and bar graphs wholly insufficient today?
  • What does Netflix know about each of its 60 million customers?
  • How does that knowledge translate into better predictions?
  • We’re not nearly as large as Netflix. Can a small or mid-sized organization use dataviz tools to better understand its employees, users, and customers?
  • Very few—if any—of our employees are statisticians and data scientists. What type of technical sophistication
  • What types of applications and technologies will help our employees actually do something with all of this data?

The Folly of Expert Predictions

Why are those who should ostensibly know better so frequently and spectacularly wrong? Why are expert predictions basically coin flips? Read More >

The business landscape is littered with downright laughable predictions from incredibly smart people (aka, experts). Want proof? How about “Apple is already dead” by Nathan Myhrvold of Microsoft in 1996. Whoops. Relying on the advice and predictions of experts is certainly understandable, but is it wise? Isn’t it better to hedge your bets?

What Attendees Will Learn

In this talk, Simon draws upon my own extensive professional experiences, reading, and research to answer the following questions and more: Read Less ^

  • Why are experts so utterly wrong so often?
  • What are some of the most egregious predictions in the last century?
  • Are expert predictions improving over time? If not, then why not?
  • What can regular folks and experts do to make better predictions?
  • Even in this era of Big Data, why are expert predictions still tantamount to a coin flip?
  • What is probabilistic thinking? Why should our team, department, and organization consider embracing it?
  • Why should I take management gurus with a 50-lb. bag of salt?