Lessons Learned from 2020: Prioritization of DEX in 2021
March 11, 2021

Tim Flower
Nexthink

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2020 was referred to as "the worst year ever" by Time Magazine. It was supposed to be the "year of vision," but within a matter of 3 months everything changed, especially the ways in which we do business. We now have a sense of optimism in the first three months of 2021 globally to have better outcomes than last year, especially as we have learned to adapt to new changes within the workforce. The real question is whether 2021 is up to the challenge of being better than last year.

Unfortunately, we do not have a crystal ball to tell us what will happen in the coming months and are unable to rely on our optimism, as 2020 has shown us all too well. The goal from here is to not only play catch up for the last 12 months, but also implement new transformational technologies that support hybrid work and business real estate downsizing. There are vital things to consider for a new year of IT and how to optimize efficiency and productivity, without sacrificing quality and professionalism.

It Is Critical, If Not Essential, to Expect the Unexpected

No matter what we prepare for, our best laid plans are useless if we don’t have an eye watching out and planning for the unexpected. Now more than ever, we must anticipate what is coming next and plan for the most likely scenario to occur. IT is in place to enable businesses and help employees be proactive and successful no matter their role. Teams strive to have the utmost visibility into their business, but frequently that is not always possible, and they are left in the dark. Visibility into the organization is drastically limited, and IT isn’t always able to see what's happening until it's too late.

IT departments are mainly seen as "firefighters'' in that they are deployed when an issue arises and are meant to resolve the problem at hand. IT most certainly helped to resolve the challenges that arose with the expansion of remote work in early 2020, but there were many new issues found and others put on the backburner that need to be resolved, one of which being the digital employee experience.

Creating Opportunity in the Next Phase of Remote Work

In 2020, many businesses scrambled to put solutions in place so that their employees could continue to work from home. For some, this meant rushing processes and best practices to simply keep the lights on. Business goals and strategy this year need to align beyond survival and strive toward innovation. To fully implement innovation, businesses need to prioritize making large cultural changes. This is more than merely enabling VPN and collaboration. It's about creating an environment for an entire workforce moving from large offices to single offices, often in diverse and remote settings.

It’s not only critical to determine how to collaborate efficiently to accommodate and manage change, but to also make sure that new technologies are working properly and result in the business outcomes they were meant to deliver. These necessary cultural and strategic changes must be done without further disruption to the employee experience. IT has a reputation of slowing down a business’s productivity when an issue arises. Our recent study shows that employees lose 28 minutes of productivity every time they have an IT issue, which has an average count of four times per week.

The time is now for business leaders to actively recognize the importance of the digital employee experience in their company. Despite IT’s growing role in an organization, research found that there is still a divide between the way IT views its services and how employees experience them. 70% of IT leaders continue to see a spike in ticket volumes, with a majority of those reporting increases up to 50% in volume compared to 2019. Not only is this driving more IT expenses, it's an indicator that your enterprise is not stable.

Top employee IT challenges include, VPN (77%), video conferencing (65%) and Wi-Fi connectivity (51%) — all essential for any workforce from remote, hybrid or in office environments. IT executives claim they are up to the challenge of handling these issues, however it’s clear that the reality, as reported by employees, does not instill the same confidence in their IT teams.

How to Bridge the IT Disconnect

First and foremost, businesses need to take a consumer approach when it comes to their employee experience. Business leaders want quick and stable provisioning of technology and they want it now. They must think of their employees as consumers seeing that employees are the ones actively consuming the technology tools and capabilities. There should not be a focus of pushing technology onto employees, but understanding how they consume that technology and how they feel about it.

One way for business leaders to prioritize employees as they do consumers is by examining and measuring their own digital employee experience (DEX). By measuring the true experience at the endpoint, businesses will gain the best insight and visibility. Once you have a 360 degree view of your employees, identify where the issues are and take action proactively. It’s important for IT teams to take action without having to wait for an employee to reach out via the help desk.

Instead of having a "firefighter" mentality, IT teams need to stay on top of problems before they turn into disasters. Visibility across the business and staying proactive is the only way to break IT’s negative reputation while decreasing downtime. When making changes to the employee experience, start with changes that the business can measure. Start with a baseline and measure over weeks and months to demonstrate and prove that the ROI in DEX is shown and producing results.

Today’s hybrid work environment demands a more proactive approach to technology. You can’t improve what you do not measure, and it starts with designing a remote work program that includes measurable systems for employee wellbeing and sentiment. This can be done through setting KPIs for the employee experience, understanding the employee persona, prioritizing improvements and creating opportunities for ongoing feedback.

Businesses need to create more innovative ways to gather feedback from employees on an ongoing basis; don’t wait for them to get frustrated with their new technology environment.

Tim Flower is VP of DEX Strategy at Nexthink
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