Employee experience is the next big differentiator

This article was originally published in LinkedIn Pulse.

The industrial revolution was perhaps the most influential era for modern business, changing the economic landscape of the world as we know it today, affecting empires, nations, businesses, and people. Each functional element of this age became the cornerstone of how businesses were supposed to function and the confluence of man and machine set in stone the structures of a truly global economy.

Today, in its fourth era, contrary to popular belief, the revolution (technological) has never been more people dependent, although technology in its various manifestations has evolved faster over the last century than in all of recorded human history.

For every leapfrog in human ingenuity, technology has been a catalyst, to the point where today, people coexist with machines – in their personal and professional lives.

IT has been at the heart of this fourth era of industrial revolution and is one of the largest industries globally, employing hundreds of millions of people and reshaping the global economy with every passing decade. According to a NASSCOM report, the accumulated capital investment in digital technology reached an estimated USD 6 trillion in 2013, about 8.5 percent of global GDP. IT, fueled by the consumerization of devices and the evolution of today’s modern, impatient, always-on consumers have made even the most traditional industries to become tech-savvy and future-ready.

Consumerization, in fact, has seeped into the very functioning of organizations where employees expect the online experiences they are accustomed to in their personal lives as a must-have even in routine business operations.

The increasing need for mobility and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) as a practice has had a significant impact on IT within organizations. A research by Crowd Research Partners found that 56% of the respondents believed BYOD as the main driver of employee satisfaction and 55% benefitted from increased productivity. And IoT is just around the corner, making steady inroads into the BYOD realm. Cloud computing and ‘application-as-a-service’ models have turned up the heat in terms of visibility, management, and complexity in IT operations.

Evolution is the only constant

The IT department and the IT service desk has evolved over the years from being the gatekeeper of networks, the issuer of PCs, cables, devices and troubleshooter of printers to a key growth and revenue driver for businesses of all sizes and industries.

This shift has triggered a challenge for CIOs and IT departments today (compared to the early 1990s and advent of the Internet) in turn aiding the creation of complex IT and services management tools that make up the backbone for creating workplace transformations. These transformations have become executive priorities to create a driven, positive and happy work environment which in turn drives employees to create exceptional customer experiences.

The IT Services Management (ITSM) market has become increasingly competitive owing to the greater need for efficiency, cost effectiveness, inclusiveness for emerging technologies and innovation.

With hundreds of tools in the market, CIOs and IT Managers need to choose solutions that enable and translate organizational vision into business outcomes and drive top line growth through the IT department’s processes, protocols, and efforts.

In a recent customer-based report, State of the Service Desk (SOSD) by Freshservice, based on 12,000 service desks across IT departments from various industries, the findings corroborates the premise of employee experiences being fundamental drives of customer experiences.

Some of the key questions covered in the first edition of SOSD include:

  • What are the critical customer support challenges that are hampering the abilities of all stakeholders in the support system value chain, thereby throttling scalability?
  • How are IT service desks keeping pace status quo without support models that follow a proactive approach?
  • What are some of the most commonly used capabilities in a cloud-based ITSM solution that’s helping IT organizations increase adoption and ease the service desk workload?
  • What’s the impact of IT in defining and delivering overall business outcomes and how is it evolving?

Another common theme and use-case based approach to IT support is proactive support – the ability to provide real-time support to employees even before they come to your IT organization asking for it.

How do service desks predict incidents even before they occur?

Such a transformation will entail collecting data at every stage of the IT service management lifecycle, convert real-time data into actionable intelligence and enable machine learning to solve the obvious and escalate issues intelligently to the right person for the right solution.

Service desks are becoming nimble and their overall mission as part of IT organizations has a direct role in supporting cost minimization and revenue generation through cloud-based SaaS ITSM solutions that are fast catching up with the features and functionality of on-premise options.

The usage-based data for these customers within the Freshservice product clearly indicates that the adoption of ITSM tools is of utmost importance for ITSM modules, particularly incident and problem management for organizations with a sharp focus on fast time-to-value and minimal administrative overheads.

As organizations enter the next stage of meeting and exceeding employee expectation to keep their customers happy, it is clear that any evolutionary transformation has to be driven from the ground up (from the service desk towards organizational vision) and top down (from CXOs to employees).

At the intersection are tools and solutions which become the primary enablers that help deliver exceptional employee experiences, in a global context where employees come first, before customers.