Why Experience Monitoring is Key to Successful Digital Transformation

JOHN KNOPF-01

By John Knopf, SVP of Product of NetMotion

COVID-19 has been credited as a driving force prompting increased activity in digital transformation efforts. This, in turn, has put pressure on CIOs and other IT leaders to accelerate the rollout of digital innovation plans in order to keep up with competitors and the pace of change.

While most enterprises were already undergoing aspects of digital transformation prior to the pandemic – with some much further along in their efforts than others – the pandemic has helped to put a spotlight on the areas that need immediate change. This has helped enterprises to ensure business continuity in a remote work environment, especially as it relates to software and inefficient processes.

Overall, COVID kick-started a pervasive and pressing requirement to minimize disruptions to productivity and security, when employees shifted to a work-from-home environment. As a result, enterprises both large and small were initially forced to cobble together a patchwork of software and systems to adapt to new workflows.

Some CIOs chose to quickly stand up proven technologies that they knew from experience could help meet the challenges of remote work, such as enterprise VPNs for connectivity and cloud-based productivity tools like Slack, Zoom, and Teams for collaboration. Others invested in solutions more on the cutting edge, such as employee engagement tools and software-defined perimeters.

Today, as the pandemic rages on and office closures continue, the companies that raced to install remote-work applications during lockdown are taking stock of their efforts in order to guide future decisions on deeper, more strategic investments in technology. Employee experience and productivity are at the heart of these considerations.

But should task completion be the primary factor companies consider? Or do IT leaders need more information to evaluate digital transformation initiatives and the technologies that power them? And how should they measure their success?

IT Leaders Need Concrete Data to Evaluate Digital Transformation ROI

Ensuring robust and uniform usage is a vital part of any digital transformation strategy. Yet, implementing change at an enterprise scale, where organizations have thousands of unique technologies, processes and procedures, can be extremely challenging. For this reason, digital transformation efforts often fail once they move past the pilot phase.

IT leaders can’t rely on gut feelings or anecdotal insights to measure the success of digital transformation efforts. Especially when implementing new technology, IT needs to truly understand if there are knowledge or workflow gaps that can pile up and disrupt productivity and efficiency across the enterprise. Even seemingly small disruptions can cause big productivity drains when multiplied across thousands of workers. They can lead to workflow gaps that can cause employees to turn to non-IT-sanctioned alternatives, magnifying the problem commonly known as “Shadow IT.”

Unfortunately, the problem of Shadow IT may be more widespread than some IT leaders like to admit. In a recent survey of 500 remote office workers conducted by NetMotion, 62% admitted to using applications that their IT department does not know about. CIOs can limit rogue application usage by being more proactive in monitoring the employee experience, identifying common issues, and working on ways to resolve them – before the employee reaches the point of frustration where he or she feels the need to go outside the tools they already have.

Ultimately, enterprises must first set their own unique key experience metrics in order to turn hard data into usable insights that inform their digital transformation initiatives. For example, experience data may show that there were an average of 46 network disconnects each month per employee since going remote. The insight, however, could be that the number of tasks completed in the ERP system has dropped by 12% – a drop in productivity that can be attributed to the connectivity downtime experienced by workers. Other metrics to look out for might include looking for applications with slow loading times, disruptions to video calls, or software crashes. Each of these can usually be investigated to draw wider business conclusions: outcomes that negatively impact the organization.

Rather than relying solely on subjective feedback loops or employee surveys, digital experience monitoring tools give IT an objective, independent way to measure and verify adoption and usage. Such technologies give IT managers the opportunity to gain a more realistic picture of why enterprise-wide transformation efforts may or may not be totally successful. And it allows them to easily identify rogue users to ensure compliance or to proactively reach out to understand their challenges, a particularly important consideration with so much remote work.

Turning Data into Action

New software rolled out by IT as part of a digital transformation is most often measured by adoption rates as well as employee morale, and crucially, productivity. Experience monitoring software helps inform all three by empowering IT leaders:

  • to better understand trends in application and device usage
  • solve thorny network, application, or workflow issues impacting morale
  • link experience metrics to productivity insights

Change management is difficult, and without multiple metrics to measure success, enterprises may be setting themselves up for failure. In the case of IT teams moving back to a long-term strategy after spending the better part of the year stamping out COVID-related fires, what they’re likely to find is a mixed bag. Although many employees report enjoying work-from-home benefits, the transition hasn’t been smooth for everyone, and over half of employees report being frustrated by remote technology issues since lockdown. Understanding the root causes of these frustrations can only help IT create successful long-term plans – including but not limited to technology reinvestments, re-training, IT policy enforcement, and open feedback exercises.

Overall, experience monitoring tools are emerging as the next piece of essential software in a world where millions are still working remotely, and enterprises are doubling down on their long-term digital transformation strategies. Not only can experience monitoring software provide the concrete data IT teams need to measure transformation success, but it can also keep rollouts on-task and ensure workers are adopting new solutions in a positive and productive way.

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John Knopf has led the strategy and direction of NetMotion’s product portfolio since 2002. He has over 30 years of software industry experience with early-stage and mid-stage companies, and has led numerous products from inception to launch with commercial success.