Everyone understands that a great user experience is vital for customers, but few organizations give the same level of consideration to their own employees. This lack of insight into the internal end-user experience leads to frustration, inefficiency and waste. Detailed analysis can lift the curtain, exposing the gap between your service level agreements (SLAs) and the reality of your current systems and software.
Some of your employees may have more applications than they really need, while others may lack the tools to do their job effectively. It’s also likely that some of your employees are making do with outdated software that’s no longer fit for purpose. Before you can set about changing that, you must gain an understanding of the overall picture.
What does your user experience look like?
Many organizations will have trouble answering this question. They may not know how many applications they have, which ones are being used, and how well they’re performing.
The rise of shadow IT—and the fact that 40 percent of spending no longer controlled by the IT department, according to Gartner’s “How to Manage the IT Budget Wisely Through Cost and Value Optimization,”—are further muddying the waters.
To determine your company’s user experience, ask yourself the following questions:
- How many users do you have, and how are their roles defined?
- What devices are accessing your systems on your daily basis?
- Where are all the access points located?
- What content is being accessed?
- What applications are being used?
By trimming the unused apps and consolidating common apps through a virtualized XenApp or similar environment, you can redirect resources to focus where they can deliver the greatest benefit.
SLAs are failing
It may be tempting to take the SLA model and apply it internally, but SLAs are too simplistic and one-dimensional to deliver the insight that’s required here. Cloud service providers might focus on availability and uptime, but what do those metrics tell you about performance? Issues such as slow-loading pages usually aren’t included in the metrics, but they really should be if you want to assess the user experience.
There’s also a trust issue here. Can you validate that your service provider is meeting expectations? What about security? Relying on provider self-reporting and a set of metrics that don’t reflect accurately the performance or the user satisfaction with the platform or application are inadequate if you really want to understand what’s going on and act to improve things.
You need insight to real-time and historical data on all your hardware, users and applications across multiple environments inlcuding traditional, mobile and virtual. Good end-user analytics will flag security risks and suspicious behavior, record when an application hangs or crashes, and identify whether specific issues are widespread or localized. Records should be comprehensive enough that you can audit areas of concern and run root cause analysis to find ways to improve. Turn your end users and their devices into roaming sensors, which paint a factual view on usability and performance.
Finding out how your employees really work is invaluable insight that can streamline many emotional conversations. Finding out what applications and devices they’re using—and how they’re using them—can unlock many potential benefits for different areas of your business. You can ensure costs are kept down and you maintain regulatory compliance while maximizing agility. A fresh insight into risk and productivity will help you to make informed business decisions.
The end user knows best
The only real measure of software quality that’s worth its salt is end-user satisfaction. Forget about what applications have been designed to do; forget about developer and service provider promises that don’t include an end-user analytical strategy. Cut to the chase and look at what’s actually happening; analyze every user session and employ business intelligence to extract actionable insights that will have a tangible impact.
Give users the flexibility they want and the tools they need to do the best job possible. Happy and productive staff are the foundation of a good business. Seek out service providers that provide transparent end-user analytics; this will develop a foundation of trust and collectively you can provide guidance based on factual performance. Hone in on boot times, application performance or network speed: You dictate the metrics that are important to your business and metrics that make a difference to your customers.
By acting without analyzing and putting your faith in SLAs, you’re basing the company’s future and its future path on pure guesswork. With end-user analytics, you can find out exactly what’s actually needed and ensure that you’re on the right track.
About the Author
Nicholas Lee is head of Global Digital Programs for Fujitsu, the Japanese information and communication technology company.