This article, written by Vincent Bieri, Nexthink Co-founder, first appeared on Forbes on February 6, 2019.
In order for employees to get their jobs done in today’s world, they are relying on IT departments to deliver and support more complex and diverse technologies than ever before. It seems like every employee has their own preferred workflow that is supported by a specific data set, program, app or device, and IT is expected to understand and support them all. The sheer volume, variety and velocity of these technology choices puts a significant burden on IT teams and stifles their success and ability to drive true business-wide ROI. How can IT departments provide the proper technology while also ensuring, and properly measuring, a digital experience that allows end users to be effective without opening the floodgates for IT?
The answer lies in understanding the three imperatives for IT leaders when it comes to providing and supporting the digital workplace that today’s employees require. These imperatives are the data foundation, end user expectations and engagement directive.
1. The Data Foundation
Improving the digital experience for employees demands better data. Critically, it demands a foundation built on complete infrastructure context because employee environments are now very personalized, informed as much by personal and social preference as business needs and expectations. This means that everything — from mobile devices to commonly used applications, printers, network proxies and browser plug-ins — exists in a space somewhere between corporate control and employee independence.
To actively enhance the user experience while also ensuring device performance and system security, companies need to know exactly what’s installed, used, modified, patched and configured on their network (on a per-user basis) all the time, whether it’s on-premise or in the cloud. Here’s why: Without both clear endpoint data and active infrastructure monitoring, any attempt to streamline services or fix issues will be out of sync with user experience, potentially causing more problems than it solves.
2. End User Expectations
Users don’t care why technology doesn’t work — they just want it to work. It’s the human side of the technology equation. The “human agent” is fully part of digital experience monitoring (DEM), defined by Gartner (paywall) as “the experience of all digital agents — human and machine — as they interact with enterprise applications and services.”
Whereas users may not care, IT absolutely needs to know why technology isn’t working properly. To meet evolving employee expectations, IT needs to know why PCs are suddenly booting slowly or not performing as expected, or why apps are randomly crashing. It’s no longer enough to tell users their problem will “eventually” be fixed as teams work through ticket queues. Instead, IT is responsible in these situations to keep staff happy and productive, and in order to do so, IT teams need an inside track on contextual experience.
However, understanding the situation doesn’t make it easy. The sheer number of services and staff make it impossible for IT teams to stay ahead of person-specific issues using traditional monitor-and-ticket responses. Instead, they need tools capable of observing user behavior, contextualizing immediate problems and implementing effective remedies, eventually leveraging automation to proactively take action without the need of a human operator — such as changing configurations, installing new software or updating drivers — to solve small problems before they become large issues. Put simply? The addition of subjective understanding and proactive response to contextual data is more than the sum of its parts.
3. The Engagement Directive
The goal for organizations in bridging the gap between monitoring and the user experience is improved employee engagement. Here are some key ingredients that enable companies to bring standard technical monitoring together with employees’ perception to create a more engaged digital workplace:
- User sentiment analysis: How do users perceive their current digital experience? How does it match with technical performance?
- Self-healing and repair: Using a combination of contextual analysis and traditional performance monitoring, tools must empower IT to address immediate issues with user feedback in mind; they should be fully automated or offer a simple and fast resolution action.
- Self-help: This includes the creation of free IT resources to solve common problems and is especially effective when paired with proactive solutions and improvement recommendations.
- Verification feedback loop: Did fixes address specific issues? Are users satisfied? Based on what I’ve seen from our customers, on average, 10% of all closed support tickets are never resolved; they’re simply closed. DEM solutions must empower IT to follow up with employees about their continued experience.
The workplace has changed forever, and users now demand a digital experience beyond what any IT team had dreamed of. In order to be successful, IT must recognize that existing metrics aren’t enough. It’s time to bridge the gap by establishing a firm data foundation, exceeding user expectations and continuously improving employee engagement.