When shifting workforce dynamics have given employees more power and freedom of choice than ever before, companies are under pressure to provide a first-rate employee experience. And in most modern enterprises, that experience is increasingly tied to the company’s level of digital maturity.
In other words, today’s employees want to work for organizations that provide the intuitive and seamless digital capabilities that are commonplace outside of work: full-featured mobile apps, fast and friendly support, robust collaboration tools, and easy access to systems and data from anywhere. These expectations have grown even stronger over the last two years, given the pandemic-induced shift to remote work arrangements across the globe. The meaning of “workplace” has evolved to become a fluid mix of traditional and home offices, and it’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future. In a recent Gallup poll (October 2021), 61% of remote workers said they anticipate working hybrid for the next year and beyond; 27% said they expect to stay fully remote. In this new reality, companies will be challenged to provide a consistently strong experience for all employees, whether they’re at the corporate campus, their kitchen table, or an airport.
Most companies recognize the urgency and say they need to do more regarding the digital employee experience (DEX). According to a recent study of IT organizations by Forrester Consulting,1 only 34% of respondents said they have the capabilities they need to support all remote and hybrid workers in the next two years.
To give DEX the attention it demands, it’s time for a more deliberate strategy. Most sizeable organizations would be wise to form a DEX Center of Excellence.
What does a DEX COE do?
Executives in many industries — tech-related or otherwise — will be familiar with the Center of Excellence (COE) concept. Essentially, it’s a cross-functional group of stakeholders chosen and supported by leadership to champion a particular endeavor. In the case of a DEX COE, the team would bring together expertise in technology, business processes, and change management to continuously improve the digital experience and employee productivity.
As its name suggests, the team would work together to understand how different user groups are experiencing technology today (devices, applications, processes, and procedures) and identify friction points that often impede and frustrate employees. In addition to collecting suggestions for improvement from throughout the business, the COE can also use digital experience monitoring tools to root out trouble areas more objectively. Ideally, they would take advantage of Agile or DevOps methods to allow for continuous improvement and testing of solutions.
It’s important to be realistic and recognize that not every proposed solution will be the right one. So, the COE must also keep a close eye on whether technology upgrades truly enhance the employee experience and go back to the drawing board when a proposed change doesn’t deliver.
How a COE adds value
Generally speaking, the DEX COE team can monitor employee usage data to add value in two primary ways: reactively and proactively.
Reactive improvements ensue as the team identifies immediate issues to be addressed. For example, one NTT DATA client encountered unexpected issues where end-users would experience the dreaded blue screen of death. Their COE fixed the problem for those end-users directly, and in doing so, they were able to further diagnose an issue with the users’ Wifi drivers that could potentially impact up to 15,000 employees. Using digital monitoring, they identified the root cause and took corrective action before it led to thousands of hours of lost productivity.
In a recent workplace technology discussion I participated in, a leading life-sciences organization shared another example of how they used 1E’s Tachyon endpoint management software to identify the company’s top 10 crashing applications and fix them systematically.
Getting more proactive, a DEX COE can help identify areas where certain aspects of the employee experience aren’t necessarily “broken” but could be improved. Internally, for example, NTT DATA found it could dramatically reduce the time to onboard new employees by using self-service tech bars instead of traditional IT provisioning. Now new hires can get to work quickly and add value from day one.
Without a sanctioned DEX body to explore and address these types of issues, they may never get the attention they need, and the company’s employee experience would stagnate.
Assembling the team and getting to work
Based on our experience at NTT DATA and what we’ve learned from our clients, here are five key points of advice for building your company’s DEX COE.
- Recruit diverse expertise. COE representatives must understand IT, but the team should also offer insight on organizational processes and employee sentiment. That could mean adding members from your business units and HR group, CX engineers, or external consultants with the appropriate experience.
- Take risks and iterate quickly. It’s the COE’s job to think outside the box and try new things. Collaborating with IT security, applications, and workplace operations, the team should work in a DevOps style to pilot ideas and make continuous improvements.
- Align IT metrics to business needs. It’s essential to gather input from business leaders to ensure that DEX improvements will make employees happy and increase business performance.
- Focus on human-centric change. As technology improvements are made, remember that employees may need time, training, and two-way communication to adapt to change and embrace new ways of working.
- Measure everything. Take advantage of data to set baselines to improve upon, and measure the impact on specific job roles, geographies, work arrangements (remote vs. in-office), and other factors. The more information you have, the better you can demonstrate the ROI of COE projects.
Every improvement in the digital employee experience puts the company on a more secure footing to retain tech-savvy employees, compete for new talent, and maximize their productivity and performance. With technology underpinning nearly every modern business process, it only makes sense to form a capable task force devoted to this cause. And with many organizations just beginning to adapt to the post-pandemic hybrid workplace, the DEX COE is an idea whose time has come.
1. Digital Employee Experience Maturity Enables The Future Of Anywhere Work - A FORRESTER CONSULTING THOUGHT LEADERSHIP PAPER COMMISSIONED BY 1E, SEPTEMBER 2021
Post Date: 2/23/2022