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Turning end-user experience monitoring data into actionable insights

digital business intelligence growth
(Image credit: Image Credit: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens)

Most organizations today already enjoy a wealth of visibility into device usage, provided that each device remains inside the corporate network or when using on-premise applications. But very few of these organizations have the same level of visibility into their remote or distributed workforce. The global COVID pandemic has brought about an explosion in numbers of employees working remotely. This remote workforce depends on an increasing number of public cloud, SaaS and internet applications, and therefore it’s become harder to see, control and troubleshoot any issues that arise.

Technology plays a massive role in employee experience (EX) and engagement, but if you don’t have visibility into technology experience, you won’t be able to improve it. This lack of visibility matters. If IT departments cannot understand the factors impacting remote workers, then they will be unable to support them. This goes some way to explaining the significant disparity between the estimated quality of experience for distributed workforces by IT leaders, and the actual working experience of those employees. 

So what can be done to make this data more useful to your organization?

Start with clear objectives  

Experience monitoring tools are great at gathering data, but the data itself is of little value if the organization doesn’t draw appropriate insights and take action to fix (or at least minimize) risks and issues. This is where IT leaders often struggle. They are not accustomed to quantifying ‘soft’ metrics such as user experience, so this is where setting specific KPIs around quality of experience and employee engagement can help.

For example, information about device usage can prove invaluable, particularly if it includes metrics about the number of times employees encounter network disconnects, the times of day that employees are working, or information about which applications consume the most bandwidth.  

Reduce Shadow IT 

Shadow IT is one of IT’s biggest frustrations and an obvious risk for an organization from a security standpoint. Most cases of Shadow IT creep in when employees are frustrated by something. Whatever that something is, it’s an obstacle that we think we can fix ourselves. Maybe we don’t have the right email, or we prefer a different collaboration tool that a vendor or teammate is using. Perhaps we just need to edit a one-off image but don’t have a simple way of doing it. Maybe we need to scan a signed document, but don’t have a scanner. Whatever the situation may be, when help from IT isn’t close at hand, many of us want efficient shortcuts to solve the problem.

If you’re feeling like you’ve ever been guilty of this, you are not alone. A recent survey that we conducted found that a whopping 62 percent of remote workers admitted installing rogue applications onto their corporate-issued devices without the permission or knowledge of their IT department.

Reducing the risk of shadow IT takes a combination of grass-roots education and top-down decisions about how to manage IT support.

Every day is a school day 

First, it’s important to create a company culture in which security awareness is expected. Employees – especially the non-technical ones – need to be educated about what shadow IT is, and all of its associated risks. Secondly, it’s IT’s job to make sure that employees are kept safe and productive while working. For employees outside the comfort of the office network environment, it has been a struggle for IT teams to gain the visibility into network performance, application and device performance, that will give them the insight they need to find and troubleshoot issues. The best way to do this is through a dedicated employee experience monitoring tool. These tools are quickly gaining traction as a means for IT teams to see all the way to the edge of the network, where the end-users and devices are located.

Keeping end-users happy and productive is an enormous challenge. IT teams need to walk a razor’s edge when it comes to security. Too tight a grip and employee productivity and satisfaction will suffer. Too loose and there is a real risk of creating a wild west that has serious security and compliance ramifications. As with most things in life, having the right tools in place makes that difficult balancing act so much easier.

Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM) 

The enormous shift to distributed working has created problems that experience monitoring solutions are uniquely capable of resolving. The ability to gather real-time, actionable data about the experience of workers can have a massive impact on the success of a business. Satisfied employees help reduce churn, and almost always make more productive workers. The knock-on effect of having a high-quality employee experience from happier employees has tangibly positive results on customer experience and will indirectly contribute to improved employee retention and hiring rates. Remote workers have traditionally been a blind spot for IT and mobility teams but choosing the right solution can provide your organization with real-time data about device, application and network performance via a single platform.

DEM gives IT teams the ability to actively monitor and troubleshoot a host of metrics related to device, application and network performance. These can include device activity, mobile data usage, application and website usage, data destinations (e.g. where data is being sent), productivity and adoption rates, network performance and diagnostics, Wi-Fi security information, application performance, device performance, web activity (including website reputation and risk factors), and data consumption.

Forrester and Gartner divide the market in different ways. Gartner splits the ‘DEM’ market into real user monitoring, endpoint monitoring and synthetic transaction monitoring, while Forrester categorizes ‘EUEM’ into pure-play tools, endpoint management specialists and monitoring suites.

As a nascent market, the edges aren’t entirely clear yet, making the decision-making process for IT leaders much more difficult. However, infrastructure and operations leaders should be aiming to use DEM to optimize UX across application environments and align technology KPIs to business metrics, such as revenue, churn and NPS. Ultimately though, every organization is unique – finding the right fit for yours will require some reflection.

Achi Lewis, EMEA Director, NetMotion

Achi Lewis is the EMEA Director for NetMotion.