At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, based on UBS Global Research, Sky News estimated that nearly half of the world’s population was living under some form of lockdown restrictions. In a seismic shift that took place almost overnight, our working world and practices were fundamentally altered, with hundreds of millions of people working from home for an undetermined and potentially indefinite period of time. As organizations attempt to navigate through these exceptional circumstances and plan for the new normal we are emerging into, their reliance on applications and the cloud to keep employees productive and drive continued business success is rising exponentially.
There was already a wealth of focus dedicated to ensuring great customer experiences to drive a competitive edge and keep revenues flowing. However, in a recent whitepaper, Deloitte argues that organizations should dedicate the same level of resources to optimizing workers’ digital experience, highlighting that this also has a direct impact on revenue. This takes on an even greater meaning in the current context, where the majority of work around the world, with the exception of essential services, is taking place remotely.
Making employees a first-class citizen
Effective remote working has become vital to business continuity and growth, and is dependent on organizations’ ability to provide a seamless digital experience for their employees. The first step towards this involves making the transition to remote working as smooth as possible. It’s essential to ensure employees have easy remote access to the digital tools and applications they need to work and collaborate effectively. Those organizations that rely on internal infrastructure and on-premises applications may find this more difficult, as many of those systems weren’t designed for the high number of remote workers that must now be supported. As a result, some employees are faced with degraded, inconsistent experiences as they struggle to access applications remotely and find they are unable to operate the same in the “new normal”.
Engaging through the cloud
Many organizations that are finding it difficult to provide seamless digital experiences for a remote workforce are looking at the applications and workloads they use and considering whether some, if not all, could be operated in the cloud. This is a move already being embraced by a growing number of organizations, with forecasts showing that the cloud migration services market will grow by $7.1 billion by 2024. Migrating applications to the cloud, or switching to SaaS-based alternatives, helps to reduce organizations’ reliance on their VPN. This removes a bottleneck, enabling employees to enjoy the same levels of connectivity that they would experience in the office. Organizations can therefore provide more consistent access to applications, regardless of user device or location, helping to maximize the productivity of their remote workforce.
However, while the cloud offers important benefits in enabling remote work, it also increases the complexity behind modern IT environments. IT teams are inundated with thousands of performance and availability alerts every day, making it easier to miss problems that should be prioritized and increasing the risk that access to business-critical applications will be disrupted, hindering employee productivity. Research has shown that the prevalence of hybrid cloud environments means that a single web or mobile application transaction crosses an average of 37 different systems or components. This complexity has made it much harder for IT teams to maintain an outside-in perspective that allows them to fully understand the digital experience that their customers and employees are receiving, which is why organizations must look to technology and in particular AI to help assist with these challenges.
Looking for a helping hand
IT teams simply don’t have the time or capacity to manually investigate all the performance alerts and solve all the problems that arise to maintain seamless digital experiences for their employees. Organizations therefore need to offer assistance that reduces the need for IT teams to perform low-value and repetitive tasks and frees them up to focus on initiatives that drive more tangible value for the business. In this way, organizations can empower IT teams to fulfil their roles more confidently and productively, driving greater job satisfaction and better workplace experiences for everyone.
AI and automation are essential to these efforts; helping IT teams stretch their limited resources further than ever, by eliminating the need for manual problem solving, and uncovering the precise answers needed to resolve problems before they impact user experience. They also need the ability to monitor real user sessions, so they can proactively identify problems employees are encountering with SaaS applications and work with the service provider to resolve those issues before employees begin calling into the help desk. This AI-assistance and automation puts organizations in a stronger position to offer employees uninterrupted access to digital services and maintain a seamless user experience for their remote workforces.
Undoubtedly, the events of the last few months will have a lasting impact on the way we view the world of work and the workplace. As and when employees return to the office, we are still likely to see an increase in remote working from pre-pandemic levels. In light of this, the changes we are seeing must be recognized as something more than a short-term business continuity measure and instead practices that empower employees to feel confident that when they work remotely they will have the same experience and productivity levels as when they are based in the office. Those organizations that take the initiative to provide a first-class digital experience to their employees will be best placed to thrive in the new normal that awaits us.
Michael Allen, VP & CTO EMEA, Dynatrace