IT decision makers are faced with endless challenges, exacerbated by the pandemic. They are being expected to support the introduction of new working models with customers that expect high-quality experiences. To do so successfully requires a rethink – a move away from the world of infrastructure-focused service level agreements (SLAs) and one that puts the user first, supported by a digital workspace that fits your employees’ needs and an IT service model that focuses on business outcomes.
The challenges for IT operations are endless: they need to provide the foundation for digital transformation; work out how to combine the apps everyone wants with the legacy systems the organization relies on; and manage the ongoing running costs of the latter. In addition, budgets are no longer under IT operations’ control but are determined by business stakeholders higher up the chain, and they also need to answer the demands and knowledge of a generationally-varied workforce.
And that’s before we consider how the pandemic has acted as an accelerant to change – in how the business operates, how employees can (and want) to work, and how IT must serve the wider organization. The discussions, trends and theories of previous years have very quickly become the reality.
Modernizing technology to support new ways of working
So, where does that leave IT decision makers? They have HR and lines of business knocking on their doors, wanting to change how employees are supported throughout their whole lifecycle – from onboarding, through their time with the company, to offboarding. And IT itself is still trying to work out the sort of model it needs to meet competing and occasionally contradictory priorities.
On top of this is the realization that they no longer have a monopoly on technical knowledge; that the days of IT in its ivory tower being the only function that understands technology have gone. They still have specialist knowledge, but their customers now know enough to expect better experiences.
This leads to employees being more empowered than ever and prepared to leave if the IT experience does not match up to expectations. And, while there is more to a job than technology, the fact is that in the digital era much of this experience is enabled, delivered and created by tech.
Changing gears: from tech first to user first
The problem is that most organizations still focus on the technology. Many are locked into an infrastructure-first mindset with SLAs focused on uptime and network performance. Procurement is dictated by the rhythm of hardware renewal cycles, with three- and five-year terms common.
This will no longer suffice. Employers are in an employee-centric market and putting IT first is not the answer. The business realizes this, and it needs IT operations to recognize it, too. The alternative requires a mindset and an operating model change of gear.
A people-led approach
First, the mindset. If employers are operating in an employee-driven market, then the knock-on effect is that IT needs to be taking a similarly people-led approach. Or, to put it in more technical terms, a user-centric one.
That means building and deploying solutions that are geared to how people want to work, with variations and the ability to personalize based on individual preferences.
So, IT should stop seeing employees as a generic set of users, since they’ve got very specific needs based on function, seniority, job goals, age and technical skills. It’s about time to end the one-size-fits-all-approach. To actually empower the workforce, it’s necessary to connect IT needs to individual tasks and needs.
Transforming the IT Service Model
Revision of the IT Service Model is key in achieving success in the new world of IT. As focusing on business outcomes is central in delivering a future-proof Digital Workspace it is necessary to align user experience, IT performance and IT support in eXperience Level Agreements (XLA).
But, there needs to be more. Requirements change, at both a business and an individual level, which can influence the type of work needed, and even how that work is delivered. Whether it’s changing an app, or even a device, the process needs to be simple, with as little contact from IT as necessary. Self-service portals that allow users to download apps based on persona-related access policies, or even order new devices, empower employees and free up IT to focus on more business-critical projects.
In addition organizations should take outsourcing into account. By using the skills of a third party for designing and supporting a future-proof Digital Workspace, company resources will be able to strongly focus on supporting their business instead of spending valuable time on dealing with all the complexities associated with the Digital Workspace.
Easing the burden for faster, agile IT
Businesses that want to operate effectively in digital marketplaces need workforces with access to the right tools to do their jobs. For too long IT has been expected to deliver everything, from infrastructure right through to applications. The fact is that no single function can deliver it all. Looking at new approaches to support employees could not only ensure users receive the experience they expect, it could also free up IT to be more proactive, agile and focused on solving business-critical challenges.