You probably don’t know who Claude Shannon is but you have much to thank him for. He was by all accounts a bona fide genius that dreamed up the underlying concept of digital computing back in 1948—decades before Wozniak, Jobs, and Gates sprung onto the scene.
In Shannon’s publication “The Mathematical Theory of Communication” he introduced for the first time the concept of the “bit”, the very cellular structure we use today to quantify and share digital information in modern computing.
In other words, one of the very reasons you can load this web page or send a text message or email is because of Shannon. And though his mind was uniquely complex, his approach to problem solving was incredibly simple and applicable to just about any situation.
Mapping Shannon’s 6-Step Process to the Digital Employee Experience (DEX)
Our passion to improve the Digital Employee Experience (DEX) inextricably links us to solving tricky problems at the largest and smallest of scale in enterprise technology. Whether our customers in IT Support are tackling a single device issue or a massive digital transformation project, we solve each problem with the same 6-step approach that Shannon used all those years ago developing his information theory:
1) Simplify. Simplify.
Shannon was skilled at ignoring noisy data and irrelevant information—he could focus with laser-like precision on what mattered most.
Similarly, we enable IT Support teams to quickly zoom-in and zoom-out on their entire digital environment. Our DEX dashboards provide clear, accurate, and real-time insights into everything from the data center out to your individual endpoints. In just a few clicks our customers can isolate specific end-users that are experiencing an issue and resolve their problems with simple remediations. Our customers report cutting IT costs (price per ticket) and their MTTR (mean time to resolution) in half.
2) Fill your ‘mental matrix’ with solutions to similar problems.
Shannon had an uncanny ability to isolate and transfer similar problems and solutions into various disciplines. For example, his PhD dissertation applied his work in algebra to the field of genetics even though he had no background in biology or genetics.
Our workplace analytics dashboard works the same way. IT doesn’t need multiple browsers and tabs open to solve their problems. Is the issue really a hardware problem, or a network problem? How can you tell? These types of questions run through the minds of any IT support technician. But with Nexthink they don’t need to scramble to find answers every time a problem arises. Instead, they can easily review key technical data metrics and user sentiment statistics and quickly act upon that information. Each problem identified represents an opportunity to enact automated remediations that can stop similar issues from ever happening again.
3) Approach the problem from many different angles.
Shannon’s Information Theory answered an old question: how do you communicate accurately over long distances? Conventional wisdom always assumed that talking louder was the right approach, but Shannon addressed the problem from a completely different place. He determined the right solution was to talk smarter—and he did this by writing digital codes to protect messages from error.
Similarly, we can make such a visceral and quantifiable impact for our customers because we approach “old” problems in an entirely new way. For decades now IT Support has been drilled to analyze problems based on how IT is provisioned. Instead we approach problems—whether they emanate from the network, database, or employees themselves—based on how IT is consumed. This subtle difference (paired with our powerful product features) is really what separates us from the rest of the pack.
4) Break a big problem down into small pieces
Shannon also believed in simplifying his work into bite-sized (or byte-sized 😊) pieces. He would cut out extraneous components and chip away at a big problem by tackling it in less-intimidating pieces.
We like to help companies around the world tackle massive computing problems by outlining powerful solutions step by step, piece by piece. Our Digital Employee Experience Score breaks down the modern employee experience and finally puts an accountable number that IT support teams can reliably map their progress against. Each technical problem that we help you solve also builds up the confidence and productivity of your staff. That positive momentum motivates teams to aim for bigger projects, loftier goals, and more innovation.
5) Solve the problem ‘backwards’.
Sometimes starting with the conclusion can help you crack the answer to a problem. Shannon used to start with the belief that his conclusions were true and then he’d work backwards to prove his premises made sense.
Similarly, we take an explicitly employee-centric perspective approach to solving most IT problems. Sure, hard IT metrics like CPU, Network Speed, and Data Throughput are crucial for IT Support teams but that’s why we pair them often-forgotten, real-time employee sentiment metrics that show you how end-users interact with their devices and applications. Taking this outside-in approach, we take the blindfold off IT support, allowing them to finally see what is truly taking place in their digital environment.
6) If you’ve solved the problem, extend that solution out as far as it will go.
Shannon understood that logic that holds true on the smallest of levels often will hold true on the largest as well. Rather than solve problems for single, particular theorems, Shannon aimed for solutions that he could expand into multiple domains.
Thankfully, Nexthink Engage is a key feature in our platform that allows us to scale with operational tools like ServiceNow and Splunk. If it wasn’t for Nexthink Engage we would be nothing but a single problem-solving platform—not very helpful for our customers. Luckily, our contextualized surveys collect real-time, reliable data that IT can act upon to ensure no employee suffers in digital silence or resorts to ‘shadow IT’ to perform their daily tasks.
Innovators like Claude Shannon not only laid the groundwork for modern computing but also served as inspiration for us here at Nexthink. We are carrying the torch for the modern Digital Employee Experience, and are just getting started.
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