Studies consistently show that a positive UX (user experience) drives revenue growth, repeat business and brand loyalty.
Here’s a good example: in Robert Pressman’s book Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach, he writes “For every dollar spent to resolve a problem during product design, $10 would be spent on the same problem during development, and multiply to $100 or more if the problem had to be solved after the product’s release.”
Meaning every dollar that is invested in UX returns $10 to $100, and correcting the problem from the start is most cost effective. Similar connections can be drawn between business profits and Digital Employee Experience. But the applications people use at work aren’t treated with the same focus and obsession you’d expect in the UX field.
Why is that the case? What prevents IT teams from delivering quality SaaS application experiences for their employees?
A new survey by Nexthink explores this issue and more.
Digital workers face application experience woes
Business executives understand how important a good employee experience has become, particularly as many organizations have shifted to remote work over the past year. In fact, an employee’s ability to easily, consistently and seamlessly access the applications he or she needs to work has never been more critical.
“We’re all reliant on our digital experience, with more of us now relying on a huge range of applications, so we all need a good digital workplace that lets us get our work done,” says Andrew Robertson, Nexthink’s Director of Global Product Marketing.
Yet enterprise IT departments struggle to understand just how bad (or good) their own employees experience their work tools. Too often, IT doesn’t know whether employees deal with sluggish systems or slow response times. Indeed, past surveys have found that employees report less than half of their technology problems to IT. When employees do report problems, this can lead to confusion in IT and sometimes one team blaming another to understand the true cause.
That disconnect stems from how IT has historically measured success.
Measuring what matters
IT typically gathers metrics around application uptime, availability and adoption rates. Of course, such figures are important when determining whether IT infrastructure is performing as it should. But they don’t provide any information on how employees are interacting with the applications they require to do their jobs.
Findings from a recent Nexthink survey spoke to this issue. After polling 100 leading IT executives, they found that only 23% are collecting employee feedback on a recurring, automated basis while 54% only collect employee feedback once or twice a year. And some 13% don’t collect any such data at all.
That lack of insight leaves IT in the dark.
“If you don’t have visibility into what’s going on, then how do you know what’s not working and what you need to improve?” Robertson asks.
Regardless of where employees are at any given time, they want to access their apps quickly and use them without any lags or interruptions so they’re as productive as possible.
However, Nexthink’s recent survey found that 83% of the responding IT executives say they actively manage half or fewer of their employee-facing SaaS applications and 68% monitor half or fewer of their commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) SaaS apps for performance and availability.
Many factors – from an out-of-date web browser to a weak Wi-Fi signal – can impact an employee’s experience with his or her workplace apps. And each factor could impact different applications in different ways, and different employees that might work remotely, in-office, or both.
“You have an explosion in the number of variations that could negatively impact the employee experience,” says David Wagner, a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Nexthink.
What can application owners and IT in general do?
Nexthink’s Application Experience cuts through all those factors to give IT a detailed perspective on how employees truly interact with their applications and experience them in real-time.
It measures web-based apps on:
- Performance: In other words, how long does it take to respond?
- Reliability: Are there any errors?
- And usage: How many employees are actually utilizing it?
Furthermore, it alerts IT to not only which employees are having what issues but what factors are causing those problems.
In short, the Application Experience feature knocks down that visibility wall into SaaS application performance, offering a Digital Employee Experience Score that can be used as a high-level metric for managing the IT department’s efforts to support the employees’ digital workplace experience.
“This starts with the experiences employees have with all their technology so IT can proactively solve their problems, whatever the problem is,” Wagner explains. “This is about ensuring the technology is as good as it can be so the employees can be as productive and efficient as they want.”
And many IT teams are finding success on that front.
One IT department that is using Application Experience with 13,000 of its employees found, for example, that workers had 36 versions of Google Chrome and 1,000 of them faced security risks with the versions they were using.
Others say the feature is helping them become more efficient and effective with troubleshooting, with one IT leader saying: “This is going to put numbers to what’s good/bad/terrible about employee sentiment/perception of application performance and health.”
Such knowledge produces significant returns for an organization.
The ability to understand the employee experience with web-based apps can boost productivity by ensuring that workers aren’t wasting time waiting for their technology to work. It can help eliminate shadow IT, as employees are less likely to download their own solutions when they’re satisfied with the company’s offerings. And it can right-size contractual agreements with SaaS providers, by identifying the exact number of employees who actually use any given app.
As Wagner explains: “With this feature, you can embed a workflow or process or strategy so that the first employee who has a problem can be the last.”
[Your Applications Are The Lifeblood of Your Organization – Learn More]
Mary K. Pratt is an award-winning freelance journalist. Her current work focuses on enterprise technology and cybersecurity strategy and management as well as emerging technology.