How do CIOs embrace the concept of choice and deliver personalised experiences?

By Simon Gale

In previous blogs, I have talked about the Digital Workplace and one of its key attributes: user-centric IT. Now, I want to explore in more detail a couple of the features I have mentioned: “personalised experiences” and the idea of “choice.” These two concepts are so closely linked, I wanted to present them together.

For most users, IT at work is defined by the device, the applications on the device and the support they receive when using them. Employees are consumers in just the same way clients are, and they quite reasonably expect all technology to be accessible, simple and enjoyable to use. After all, as clients, when a mobile app or a website fails or when it doesn’t live up to our expectations, we stop using it and go elsewhere. Inside an organisation, that’s usually referred to as “shadow IT,” and you can read at length about the problems that can cause.

By adopting a user- or experience-centric approach, you have a real opportunity to meet employee expectations and create personalised experiences, thus significantly reducing the desire to go looking for alternatives.

So, here are some thoughts on the importance of delivering exceptional user and employee experiences and what is necessary to do so:

Q: Why is the idea of “personalised experiences” and the concept of choice so important?

A: Well, it starts with those consumer expectations. It’s what we all look for in our personal lives, and it’s what makes the difference to how we feel about the service we receive.

Q: What has to change in the way we do things today in order to deliver this?

A: The focus has to shift away from a support model based on ticket management and image management toward workspace management and a support model based on user satisfaction. It’s amazing how often the latter tracks a user’s productivity.

Q: Surely personalised experiences and choice cost more. How can it be cost-effective?

A: There are, of course, some transformation costs, but our own experience in IBM and that of various customers has been that these are soon recovered against the reduced support costs and improved productivity. Then, there are the softer benefits of greater employee engagement and improved satisfaction, and better support for the recruitment and retention of staff.

IBM’s CIO Office deployed over 100,000 Macs and offers its employees choice of device while reducing cost.

Q: Tell me more about personalised support. How is it achieved?

A: It all starts with answering the basic demands of any user: know me, engage me, support me, my way. So, through the use of personas and user login information, and with systems that can recognise the user’s platform and device type, it is possible to deliver support based on a thorough understanding of the user and their needs.

Incorporating analytics and cognitive computing into that support means that we know even more and can provide even better-targeted information and support. And it works. Every organisation that has implemented the changes we propose reports a significant improvement in user satisfaction and productivity.

Q: So what about choice? Isn’t that just going to result in users picking the most expensive option?

A: There are three basic levels to “choice.” The first allows business units to select devices that are appropriate to their needs, that best support their users in the fulfillment of their duties. The second allows that employees themselves have some level of choice over the device they use, typically based on personal experience and preference. The third option is to extend user choice to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) — most organisations will want to restrict this in some way, and all should restrict it based on the version of the operating platform to avoid old, unpatched devices.

Is it more expensive than providing a single device and build to everyone? No, it doesn’t have to be. Not when one looks at license management, the actual total cost of devices rather than just purchase price, the reduced level of support required by someone using the device they know best and the impact of analytics and cognitive in reducing incident volumes.

Q: So what else do I have to do if I’m going to deliver this “Workplace of the Future?”

A: The three key considerations are:

  1. Accessibility You need to break the hardwired connection between legacy applications and the device and operating system and making them accessible through web-front ends, virtualisation, or multiplatform clients. Leveraging rather than blocking means of connection and providing multichannel support which is always there when a user needs it.
  2. Culture It’s necessary to renegotiate the relationship between IT and employees, and for each to understand their new role, and how new freedoms are balanced by new responsibilities. Implementing clear and fair usage and security policies and ensuring that these are validated regularly and formally.
  3. Experience Stay focused on the experience rather than the technology, giving users and the employees simple and enjoyable tools and services. Then, measure success by reference to their satisfaction rather than call volumes or time-to-answer, concentrating on what’s important.

In short, it’s an ace way to make sure IT is not only relevant and supporting business goals, but is able to drive change and delight customers and employees with personalised experiences.

Are you ready for your changing workforce?

This article was originally published on Mobile Business Insights.