The days of the one-size-fits-all IT strategy are over. Employees have higher expectations for their workplace experience than ever before – which leads to growing tension when their unique needs are not met by IT. The only solution is a full embrace of personalized, right-sized IT services.
Delivering consistent personalized service is easier said than done, however. Organizations must first develop a comprehensive understanding of their employees. That means looking far deeper than traditional employee data and discovering – perhaps for the first time – how their employees work and what they require from their workplace.
One person who knows a lot about this subject is Prabhu Kaliaperumal, Director, Strategic Solutions at Nexthink. With more than 16 years of experience in the end-user computing space, Prabhu has had a front row seat for the many innovations that have taken place in IT over recent years.
We spoke with Prabhu about the rise of personalized IT services, and the unique advantages of Nexthink’s Persona Insight initiative.
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Prabhu, can we begin with a quick overview on how IT currently provisions technology, and what shortcomings result from that approach?
Prabhu Kaliaperumal: The IT landscape is changing and changing drastically. Especially in the end user space. The reason being is that the end user expects their experience as an employee at work to go as smoothly as their experience as a consumer outside out work. Apart from their eight or nine hours at work, they spend most of their time as consumers, interacting with the likes of Uber and Amazon and Netflix. They expect a similar quality of experience in the workspace.
Employees have started to consider the workplace as another consumer service. This gets very challenging for IT, particularly as we try to understand every specific need and what the employee is really looking for. This challenge gets tougher in a digital workplace because the employee expects the workplace to be omnipresent. What I mean by omnipresent is that the employee wants to be able to connect to the workplace from anywhere, at any time, with any device.
On top of that, the overall structure of organizations have changed drastically. For example: many employees roll up to more than one managers. One project manager, though they only have one title, performs multiple roles. They engage with the marketing team on a marketing project, and then the same person engages with the sales team to perform a sales call, while also performing engineering activities, and so on. So, they’re really performing the roles delivering expectation of multiple managers/multiple customers – and as a result, this one employee has many different needs in the workplace. That’s a critical reason as to why a traditional, one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t go well when it comes to provisioning technology.
The right personalization can also help foster a vibrant company culture. Listen to our recent conversation with Gil Cohen, Founder of Employee Experience Design.
And what can we do differently to improve on that approach?
It comes down to understanding the employee better, right? And that requires workplace services to become more personalized. That may sound simple, but this very critical factor – providing personalized service – is not so easy with out the help of right approach and helping technology.
Most organizations have put a lot of effort into understanding employees, and they do so by creating something called an employee persona, or employee segmentation, etc. But there are a lot of basic flaws and challenges in that model.
One problem is that when we create an employee persona, as an organization, it is typically created in a silo. A small department handles this so-called persona project. Once it’s created, this persona might be utilized for one or two initiatives – but it often doesn’t get practically applied to all workplace services.
Also, the data used for developing personas often relies too heavily on superficial knowledge. I’m referring to demographic data: age, sex, marital status, place, location, etc. That’s not enough information to address the demands of the current modern workplace. An employee’s attitude towards their work, their motivations and frustrations, are all very, very critical pieces of information to achieve success with personalized services. It’s not so much about who the employee is or what they tell you, but rather what they actually do.
This is where Nexthink comes into place. We started thinking, “who else is better equipped to understand an end user and what they do than Nexthink?” Nexthink sits on all of an employee’s devices, making it possible to understand everything about what’s happening in a digital workplace. That’s where the Nexthink end user persona was born.
Can you give more insight into how these personas work?
So, we know Nexthink organically collects large amounts of data points like device hardware, software activities, all from the end-user side. We started a process of contextualization with all these data points that are focused on deliverance to the end user – device hardware, software, application activity, connection, etc.
These data points gave us a tremendous number of insights into understanding the experience of each user. We then sliced these insights into mini capsules of intelligence, which we call personal traits.
The beauty of these personal traits is that they can be measured and tracked in real time. The result is a dynamic persona: the persona of a person who is ever-changing. From there, you’re able to best serve the particular persona or personas of each end user, individually, at scale.
In terms of business benefits, what are the big-picture advantages that customers can expect from rolling out this kind of service?
When we speak about personas traditionally, we’re talking about creating four or five “boxes” of personas. And then we put groups of employees into those boxes. There’ll be one box called “Office Worker”, “VIP User”, “Roadrunner”, these types of boxes. And then we apply those personas to all business objectives, whether it’s VDI readiness assessment, intelligent device refresh, whatever we face. Now it’s not that way. We now have the ability to dynamically create personas based on key personal traits. They keep changing.
With this model, we first identify a business objective for which we want to apply a persona. Based on that objective, we go ahead and create a unique persona style. For example: for VDI migration, I will be using a specific persona. I won’t be using the same persona that is used for the initiative of providing the right device to the right user.
To put it simply, we can now create personas based on the specific needs of a project – instead of having static personas that become useless with each new project.
For more on personalization and building employee personas: