Mending the rift between end-users and IT

As technological innovation becomes a competitive differentiator for business, IT’s charter must evolve to focus on end-user experience.

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Year over year, end-user experience continues to rise among the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) organizations use to measure IT. Gartner’s suggested methodologies for measuring end-user experience are aggregated into a category called Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM). However, regardless of which flavor(s) of DEM an organization may use to establish end-user experience metrics, the reason end-user experience matters is because it is a benchmark for productivity.

At the core of end-user experience is productivity

To hone in on productivity means to focus on the needs of people, the possibility of technologies, and the requirements of business units. At the heart of it all is empathy. Although some may think of a migration from benchmarking people as we might do to a product as dehumanizing, the notion is designed to increase innovation and creativity. It is ultimately an outcome-driven approach, which requires being mindful of both process and people.

It may be useful to provide an example of how productivity metrics can help organizations be more proactive in identifying and solving issues. For example, let’s say a Windows update patch deteriorates desktop application performance to the tune of 1.5 seconds per screen render. That’s something some employees might notice but not know how to convey other than simply stating, “My computer feels slower.” Such complaints from users might be not be filed as a significant degradation and the issue would not be appropriately triaged. However, the impact on productivity will undoubtedly continue until the issue is resolved. By not having a measurable sense of the productivity impact, IT has inadvertently introduced friction into the business workflow.

Successful IT organizations solve issues like these before they impact productivity, while less successful organizations are caught off guard when the business complains about a degradation in their technology—leading to competitive devastate. Productivity metrics are key to making sure organizations proactively address symptoms before they become real problems rather than reacting when a problem is real and there is a crisis.

These days, there are so many levers organizations can pull to try to drive results—automation, cognitive computing, consumerization, big data analytics and most of all, outsourcing.

Betting on outsourced productivity

The best way to deal with the increasing cost of keeping productivity numbers up is outsourcing. By moving the goalposts for IT from internal to external, the responsibility for keeping end-users productive shifts to the managed workspace provider. This is a particularly timely discussion to have with such service providers as their industry has hit the point of diminishing returns with the “your mess for less” propositions of old. The resulting outcomes can be measurable and simple—using standardized workspace analytics—while still standardized and efficient. Focusing on productivity can give outsourcing customers and providers a place to start anew. It gives service consumers and service providers something to focus on—that being the end-user experience, a metric that is shared and recognized by both parties.

When it comes to outsourcing, enterprise customers are increasingly interested in business—rather than basic technology—results. Doing so provides everyone the transparency into the return on investment by seeing how money spent impacts business productivity. While outsourcing, enterprises are still looking to control costs.  They are also interested in taking advantage of the latest and greatest technology advancements like analytics, mobility and cloud computing. They are looking to outsource to be leaders in these core competencies.

This approach requires trust rather than merely a contract. Customers and suppliers are entering a strategic, rather than tactical relationship. This is much more evolved and requires strong commitment and engagement on both the service provider's and the producer’s behalf. While there will always be a need for traditional KPIs, everything from the procurement process through delivery, should be collaborative and measurable. The governance process must also evolve in lockstep and be captured appropriately in the contract.

Taking a leap of faith to “Level 0”

For most organizations, support has been increasingly expensive with diminishing productivity returns. Gartner has been reporting on the adoption of a further shift left into “Level 0,” where self-healing and self-service can prevent (or deflect) incidents and requests from reaching the IT service desk—thus saving costs and increasing productivity.

Self-healing refers to autonomous frameworks for solving problems before users become aware of them. Self-service refers to the frameworks for walking users through solving problems using software developed by templatizing repetitive tasks rather than relying on people to execute them.

A strategy for tethering support to productivity is simple—IT infrastructure and operations should focus on supporting business productivity instead of low level interactions, which could be automated or outsourced. Provided both internal and external stakeholder agree on the metrics used to measure productivity, IT can not only reduce mean time to resolution but also decrease the number of incidents, improve quality of service and lower support costs.

For managed workspace providers, moving away from the “tried and true” model of guaranteed returns and minimum commitments is a big leap. It fundamentally changes the way they go to market away from purely time and service level agreement-driven “sign and drive” contracts to collaborative productivity-driven relationships.

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