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Making 2019 the year of the end-user

Traditionally, IT has pursued ways to make technology teams more productive and less expensive and achieve the use of better, faster software delivery; virtual apps and desktops; service mapping; secure everything; and improved ticket processing. IT has also looked for ways to enforce rigorous change control. But IT teams are still stuck in a dark cave that threatens to collapse around them under the weight of heavy, expensive process and disparate management technologies that change the fundamental workings of its founding fathers. But what about the experience of the end-user? Here’s what is changing in 2019: A laser focus on the impact of all of this tech to those who matter – end-users.

1.       2019 is the year of the business user: For the last 30 years IT has been on a journey, shifting from a technology-focused function to a predominately service-oriented function, aligning resources and effort behind business services that meet the demands of the business it is supporting. 

However, along the way it has only ever really held itself accountable for the technology it has provided, typically measuring services in-terms of uptime and availability of the technology itself.  

The challenge is that in the age of digital transformation the supporting technology is becoming increasingly complex, with cloud, virtualisation and outsourcing, to name a few, generating a complex web that makes it almost impossible to measure what service is actually being delivered, where the problems are and who is responsible when things go wrong. 

Smart organisations are therefore waking up to the idea that they need to take a customer-first holistic approach if they really want to provide a world class service, and re-orientate their IT towards being accountable for the user experience rather than the technology.

2.       Shadow IT comes to light: Throughout the last few years, many CIOs have grappled with a creeping certainty that somewhere within the corporate network, shadow IT has been playing havoc with critical systems. Employees looking for the fastest, easiest way to complete tasks despite existing IT access and use requirements have driven this. The proof has been in irregular incident and problem reports – odd security breaches and a strange lack of IT support tickets.

However, this is set to change as organisations change their perspective in upcoming months. Rather than taking a top-down approach, they will start from the bottom up and ask themselves: What does the end-user experience look like? Which processes and workflows are effective and which hamper productivity? If employees are leveraging unapproved third-party apps it’s important to ask why instead of simply banning their use.

Leveraging real-time end-user IT analytics will give organisations an accurate view of how users interact with IT services, where they struggle and how they can improve.

3.       KPIs will evolve: The traditional measure of IT success, the Service Level Agreement (SLA), is set to change. Some traditional measures, such as mean time to resolve (MTTR), will always be a benchmark of the efficiency of a service desk, but other measures particularly regarding the availability of services with hosted or cloud components have proven troublesome. In the vernacular, these have become known as watermelon SLA’s, meaning green on the outside, but red on the inside. The red reflects user frustration at the poor experience being received whilst the green reflects typically 5 9’s (99.999 per cent) of uptime for the IT infrastructure. Clearly the wrong things are being measured as user experience is frequently at odds with IT’s view.

This is in part because traditional methods of interpreting user experience, surveys and service desk tickets are notoriously inaccurate and incomplete, it is estimated that only 50 per cent of IT users will actually call the service desk in the event of an issue for example, let alone respond to a survey. There is a wider philosophical point as well, if you only measure the provision of IT, rather than the consumption of IT, how can you hope to improve service?

In 2019, organisations will look to focus on the consumption of IT, and will use new metrics for measuring user experience. This implies changes to operating models, changes in governance, and engaging with the business in a different way.

Data collected from end users about how they interact with technology, its impact on their day-to-day processes and how it empowers (or frustrates) them is invaluable when it comes to effective IT. Plus, since end users — from staff to customers to stakeholders — form the backbone of all business value, access to real-time data about their experiences, expectations and the root causes of IT issues, can help establish a firm foundation for business/IT alignment and drive mutually beneficial agreements.

4.       AI will meet employee experience head-on: From network applications to big data, mobile devices to cloud computing, IT services are now interconnected to such a degree that isolated failure can precipitate a chain reaction, causing business slowdowns, customer frustration, employee dissatisfaction and revenue shrinkage. Given the broad-spectrum applications of AI and its ability to churn through historical data and deliver accurate predictions, it makes sense to set this tech loose on the end-user experience, particularly when it comes to reducing repair times. AI tools can help diagnose and remedy IT issues by looking at current and historical data of all user/app interactions and then suggesting appropriate remedies. The next step for artificial intelligence? Using predictive analytics to remediate issues before they even occur. Instead of simply tackling break-fix issues, leveraging new capabilities to find better ways staff can accomplish common tasks will become more common. In adopting this new approach, organisations will effectively move beyond “good enough” solutions to deliver “ideal” outcomes.

Mark Boggia, Director of Global Partner Learning and Development, NexthinkImage search: Shutterstock/nenetus

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