Why User Experience Should Be Front and Center in Digital Transformation
Posted by on October 14, 2019
Roger Sowerbutts is the director of Cherwell Software in the UK, France, and Ireland.
Digital transformation is indisputably one of the biggest business priorities right now, and successful digitalization requires a good understanding of a business’s objectives and challenges.
People are the heart of any business, meaning digitalization efforts should lead back to improving the experience of both employees and customers. But despite all the talk of using new technology as a driver for creating innovation, agility, and efficiency, all too often anything IT related in the workplace can still be a painfully slow and cumbersome experience.
One particularly telling example I heard involved a company where basic IT actions, such as ordering a new laptop to onboard an employee, required a manila envelope full of forms to journey around the business, gradually collecting approval signatures from various stakeholders. This could easily take several weeks to complete, meaning the new employee might end up at their desk twiddling their thumbs while they wait for the laptop to arrive. Not quite the positive first impression that an organization is aiming for when bringing on new recruits!
Why User Experience Matters
Providing a strong user experience can deliver powerful advantages including increased productivity, improved customer relationships, and maximized IT resources.
However, while many companies have supplemented their user experience with automation, the average employee will still find there's a lot they cannot do themselves and that many requests leave them at the mercy of convoluted processes and long delays. The situation becomes particularly bad when different departments are involved, each using a different legacy system and deeply siloed processes that do not connect to each other. Mergers and acquisitions can easily leave a large organization with half a dozen different IT support systems across different sites.
Situations like this can severely disrupt workflows, hitting both productivity and morale. Poor user experience is even more damaging when it comes to businesses where customers have access to the system, potentially damaging the professional relationship and reputation.
This has become more jarring in recent years because advancing consumer technology means people have higher expectations as they enjoy smooth, intuitive technology at home. Furthermore, the IT support team will be wasting a disproportionate amount of time fighting fires and resolving simple requests, ending up with fewer resources for more strategic activity.
How Self-Service Helps
So, if user experience is so important, why are so many businesses lagging behind? One of the main issues is the cost and resources involved. Totally replacing an entrenched legacy system can involve both a large upfront investment and the risk of downtime and disruption during the implementation.
However, organizations need to bite the bullet and invest in their user experience if they are to compete in the digital age.
One of the most effective solutions is to implement a self-service approach to IT. When implemented correctly, self-service empowers the workforce and users to quickly and easily fulfill most of their IT needs themselves, such as ordering new equipment or installing software. For other tasks, the system will ensure that all tickets are automatically tracked, keeping the user updated on progress and preventing the request from being lost and forgotten.
Sharing the Knowledge
An often-overlooked aspect of self-service is knowledge management. A well-implemented self-service solution can help users find answers to their questions and complete tasks themselves without needing to raise a ticket, empowering the individual and saving valuable IT resources. Many companies will have some kind of store of knowledge on a platform such as SharePoint or OneDrive, but the system needs to be delivered in a more intuitive and accessible way to provide real value.
A self-service platform can also be implemented across different departments and locations, for instance granting access to IT, HR, and finance needs from a single dashboard, as well as uniting other business sites.
How Nasstar and Utilize Improved User Experience
One great example of what can be achieved is the managed services provider (MSP) Nasstar. The company provides IT support to 700+ customers around the world but was stuck with four different help desks using their own disparate systems due to acquisitions. Using Cherwell’s platform, they were able to establish a unified approach that vastly improved efficiency in fulfilling requests. The solution has been so successful they are now looking to create end-to-end integration through the entire business cycle using the platform as a basis.
Another powerful demonstration of self-service in action is the MSP Utilize, which used automation delivered through Cherwell’s platform to vastly improve customer subscription renewals for Microsoft Office 365. Previously, this was a painstaking manual process that was prone to delays as quotes had to be sent back and forth for approval. Now, a customer can simply login to the portal and adjust their subscription, and Cherwell can download the invoice and bill accordingly. Utilize estimates that its team is saving around 120 hours a month through the new automated system.
However, getting these kinds of results is dependent on choosing the right kind of solution. A development platform, for example, can be used to deliver strong initial results but is usually expensive and resource-heavy to customize or upgrade, requiring external support from a team of specialists. By comparison, a configuration platform has a low-code approach that makes it extremely easy to customize and change using just a small number of internal administrators.
Using a configuration platform to enhance user experience will not only deliver immediate improvements in efficiency, but will help to future-proof the business, enabling it to keep adapting as its objectives change.
Find out more about how Nasstar has taken advantage of Cherwell's platform.
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