happy employee
The employee user experience should be a priority for any CIO PHOTO: Schezar

In today’s hyper-connected digital workplace, business end users have become as important to a company as its customers. Are your employees engaged and satisfied? Is the technology working for them as expected? Can they seamlessly access the tools and resources they need?

As a result, the roles of IT teams and CIOs have undergone a significant transformation: It’s no longer enough to respond quickly when issues emerge, or to implement predictive maintenance and security plans. Now, tech specialists must anticipate and respond to their end-user needs — often before those employees can even express them.

So how do companies embrace the emerging value of the employee end-user experience?

Fighting a Digital Tug-of-War

In the digital workplace, employees expect both an attentive IT staff and the ability to self-start projects and self-solve problems. Emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, personal clouds and embedded analytics help drive this user-centric universe.

Factoring in existing legacy applications and required corporate security oversight though, CIOs and end users often end up on opposite sides of a digital tug-of-war, with executives pushing for stricter controls while employees strain for more freedom.

Improving Digital Dexterity

In a recent Forrester survey, 37 percent of respondents said they would switch jobs if their new employer offered improved digital skills training in the workplace. Improved digital dexterity among workers is critical to their satisfaction and provides a means to make the best use of technologies in the new digital workplace.

Users want the ability to allocate resources as required, download new applications and seek out answers to tech problems without having to ask for IT approval. CIOs, meanwhile, benefit from improved digital skills when employees are less likely to fall for phishing messages or accidentally compromise data integrity.

Assessing the Costs of Lost Productivity

But addressing the digital knowledge gap is only half the battle. Consider the findings of a recent Robert Half Technology study, which discovered that employees spend an average of 22 minutes every day dealing with IT-related issues. That means that from poor network performance to authentication and access issues, workers are losing almost two weeks of productivity every year.

Meanwhile, executives are often bogged down by data-heavy reports that don’t offer actionable solutions or even accurately reflect current IT issues. In effect, they’re forced to manage the fast-moving digital workplace while standing still. Even more worrisome? Most IT issues don’t happen in isolation. What may seem like one-off performance problems or isolated risk factors may produce a cascade effect that quickly compromises the network at large.

Reducing Network Compromises

So how does IT address this conundrum? Here are four ways:

1. Get to know the people using the software

With many IT pros and CIOs becoming more familiar with routers and servers than the staff, it’s often nearly impossible to get an accurate read on emerging IT issues. Just as digital workplace users now expect visibility into their own tech environments, CIOs need the same upgrade to take the pulse of their end users.

2. Leverage analytics

Advanced monitoring and analytics technologies are enabling IT to discover what’s happening across the end-user network. By gaining real-time visibility into which apps users are utilizing the most, when computers are crashing and who’s being affected, they can see patterns and proactively address them. 

3. Don’t wait for insight

While you need to address problems as they occur and use analytics to see patterns in them, if you’re only addressing problems after they arise, you’re missing a huge opportunity to improve the end-user experience. Leverage your data analytics to determine when apps need to be upgraded and the typical times that computer crashes seem to occur and then learn from this data to prevent future problems.

4. Get your end users in on the action

It’s not enough to solve an end user’s problem; you also need to learn from it. Whenever a problem has been resolved, work to get direct feedback right away. How often have they experienced the problem? How can IT improve? And remember that it’s important to gather that information immediately because once a problem has been resolved, it’s often out of sight and out of mind.

Improving the Employee Experience

The digital workplace is designed to empower employees. But if they lack technical skills or have continuous IT problems, their productivity suffers. This environment demands a new CIO mandate: treat the business end user like the customer. Improving the end-user experience ultimately impacts not only satisfaction and productivity but also the bottom line.