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IT Jargon Explained
Digital Employee Experience
What is digital employee experience (DEX)?
Digital employee experience, or DEX, refers to the way employees interact with their organization’s digital environment. This includes the hardware and software they use to perform their daily tasks, as well as the degree of access and support they receive.
DEX is essential to any modern business, since it concerns how employees communicate and collaborate in today’s remote and hybrid work environments, as well as how the organization’s digital workplace aligns with their needs and preferences. In many ways, it mirrors the way companies deliver cohesive, high-quality experiences to their customers.
DEX is the total of all the digital touchpoints that employees encounter during their workdays, and the overall sentiment they have of their organization’s digital capabilities. As such, it’s a valuable new opportunity for IT teams to become strategic players within their organizations.
What is digital experience management?
Digital employee experience management refers to the monitoring and optimization of all employee interactions with technology in the workplace. The goal is to continuously improve user experiences by identifying and addressing any issues that employees may encounter when using the organization’s software, hardware or cloud-based tools.
DEX management may also be referred to as user experience management (UXM) or end user experience management (EUEM). However, DEEM (Digital employee experience management) and DEX (Digital experience management) are the most accurate and commonly used terms for this particular class of solutions.
Effective DEX management includes tools and strategies for managing and monitoring digital assets, reporting and analytics, and automated resolution for issues relating to the way employees interact with the organization’s digital environment. The most evolved DEX solutions may incorporate features like qualitative feedback, sentiment analysis and automated remediation for security and access issues.
EMA Radar™ Report: Ivanti Named a 2022 Value Leader for Digital Employee Experience Management
Is DEX important only for remote workers?
While most conversations about digital employee experience center around preserving productivity in remote and hybrid work environments, improving the employee experience is critical in all scenarios. Even in the traditional office setting, knowledge workers depend heavily on the technology provided by their organizations, so it stands to reason that DEX should apply to them as well.
DEX is vital for any business, since it’s about taking care of your team to ensure high productivity and morale no matter where they work from. Without DEX, however, technology can end up being a hindrance rather than a helping hand. Other benefits of DEX that apply in any working environment include enhanced productivity, talent acquisition and retention and better security and compliance.
What is an XLA?
An XLA is an experience-level agreement. XLAs set the standards for DEX and help organizations better measure satisfaction. An XLA puts employees at the center of the digital workplace strategy by defining success based on how technology improves (or hinders) employee experiences.
In many ways, an XLA mirrors service-level agreements (SLAs). However, unlike SLAs, they focus on employee happiness and productivity, rather than availability and responsiveness. They include a mix of quantitative metrics associated with the performance of technology and qualitative measures that capture overall employee satisfaction, digital adoption and help desk experience.
XLAs measure satisfaction on a continuous basis, not just on a transactional one. This involves regularly measuring employee experience using metrics like Employee Net Promoter Score (ENPS) and conducting targeted assessments based on context. For example, an organization might measure overall employee satisfaction once every quarter but conduct a pulse survey to get instant feedback following the rollout of a new collaboration tool or other digital solution.
Unlike SLAs, XLAs benchmark the real-world experience of actual end users, rather than just tracking the performance and availability of assets like servers, SaaS services and networks. Instead of measuring the performance of an application on a backend server, it tracks the experience employees have when interacting with a specific endpoint device or application. Benchmarking occurs in real-time with live users. However, it may be supplemented with synthetic testing to allow IT to focus on proactively resolving issues before they impact people.
What’s the difference between XLA and SLA?
IT has long used service-level agreements (SLAs) to benchmark technology performance and service availability, both for customers and internal teams. Experience-level agreements (XLAs) follow a similar concept, albeit their goal is to measure the effectiveness of digital echnology to improve employee experiences.
Whereas SLAs focus on service uptime and availability, XLAs place the emphasis on how employees engage with digital technologies in the workplace. Rather than just monitoring backend systems and services, XLAs measure things directly tied to business outcomes like employee satisfaction, productivity, digital adoption and helpdesk experience.
XLAs and SLAs often work together and may form part of a unified documentation. While SLAs focus on IT-centric metrics like server performance, cloud service availability and helpdesk ticket volume, XLA metrics include those more closely associated with employee experience, like application load time, employee feedback and general sentiment gathered across communication and collaboration platforms.
Although traditional SLA metrics are often connected in some way to the end user experience, their lack of focus on employee experience can leave IT teams blind to the specific needs of employees. This lack of focus can encourage them to take a reactive, rather than a proactive approach to supporting their end users. Moreover, the widespread standardization of SLAs leaves little room for differentiation, forcing organizations to compete on cost rather than the quality of the experience provided.
What is a digital employee experience (DEX) score?
A DEX score gives IT managers the ability to quantify the digital employee experience. It grants a 360-degree view with contextual insights into the devices, applications and operating systems that employees rely on to perform their jobs.
Ivanti Neurons calculates the DEX score based on a curated set of metrics, machine learning algorithms and statistical models. The score ranges from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating better employee experiences. This allows IT managers to monitor DEX across several key areas:
- Devices, with indicators including device age, processor speed, boot degradation, system failures, warranty, memory and storage.
- Support, with indicators including the number of open tickets, priority and urgency.
- Applications, with indicators including load times, errors and user interactions.
- Security, with indicators including vulnerability scan data and antimalware versions.
DEX scores are updated automatically every time an inventory scan happens, or when there are changes to the tracked indicators. This automatic updating allows managers to identify potential problems and recommend remediation actions to proactively improve end user experiences.
What does a DEX score tell me?
Using a combination of statistical models and machine learning, a DEX score provides a figure quantifying the overall level of satisfaction that employees have when engaging with each application, system, service or device that makes up an organization’s digital environment. The score provided is between 0 and 100 for each endpoint, with a score of 100 pointing to the best possible employee experience.
The DEX score offers an intuitive way to identify potential issues while providing actionable remediation recommendations that help proactively improve employee experience. IT managers can drill down into the score to see the full list of indicators used to calculate the score for a given device. This allows IT teams to proactively identify issues or potential areas for improvement.
For example, metrics might include available memory or storage space, antivirus protection status and patch deployment status. A robust scoring system should represent the entire digital experience across all key aspects of a given asset. As such, it should include indicators about service management, applications, devices and security.
Impact on the organization
What are the benefits of investing in digital employee experience?
Investing in digital employee experience empowers people and benefits organizations with higher productivity and morale. By continuously measuring employee satisfaction and productivity within digital work environments, investing in DEX has become a critical driver of success and growth in the era of hybrid work. DEX also has a positive impact for IT teams by reducing ticket volumes and freeing up time to work on more impactful projects that nurture their professional development.
A robust DEX offers many benefits beyond productivity as well, including: · Improved talent acquisition and retention.
- Streamlined compliance throughout the organization.
- Reduced security risks due to greater oversight of company assets.
- Reduced friction when accessing business resources in remote and hybrid environments.
Ivanti’s State of Digital Employee Experience study found that half of employees are frustrated by company-provided tech, with just over a quarter considering leaving their jobs because of it. The report also found that nearly half of CISOs admitted to circumventing security protocols at least once during the pandemic to get their work done with minimal disruption.
DEX solutions, like Ivanti Neurons for Digital Experience, provide IT teams with contextual insights and intelligent automation to proactively detect and resolve security vulnerabilities and other IT issues — reducing risks and improving employee experience. By contrast, traditional management tools aren’t designed to fully gauge and respond to user experience issues.
By investing in DEX, IT can bridge the gaps in service delivery, analyze data to qualify and quantify employee experience and provide proactive support; leading to improved productivity, satisfaction and security.
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What are the benefits of a strong digital employee experience?
Organizations with a robust digital employee experience strategy and the management tools to support them enjoy a greatly reduced impact from technology-related problems, enhanced security, and improved employee productivity. Moreover, almost two-thirds of organizations with mature DEX strategies have seen higher
employee retention rates. These benefits directly impact the business’s bottom line, making DEX a promising new opportunity for IT managers to add measurable value to their organizations. Furthermore, IT teams can themselves enjoy a more streamlined work environment with fewer tickets to deal with and more time to focus on strategic initiatives.
How does digital employee experience impact productivity?
Digital employee experience has a significant impact on workplace productivity. Common technology issues disrupt employees up to four times per day on average. Each distraction takes around 20 minutes to overcome, when considering how long it can take for employees to refocus and resume their tasks after an issue has been resolved. This leads to an increased risk of burnout while encouraging the rise of shadow IT.
Common productivity-impacting issues include meeting security requirements, like access and authentication, connecting to VPN servers, scanning for malware and waiting for patch deployments. Other common issues include difficulties connecting to cloud-hosted SaaS and other web services, as well as dealing with slow devices, applications and network connections.
These frequent disruptions combined also hinder the effectiveness of the IT team, since 40% of users will contact help desk support at least once per week, thus increasing operational overhead. However, others might avoid seeking professional IT support, instead turning to unqualified peers, which may also reduce productivity and increase the risk of shadow IT. Ultimately, unless IT can identify and address the root cause, such disruptions are likely to recur, leading to a compounding impact on productivity and expenses. As a strategic initiative that relies heavily on analytics and automation, DEX can greatly enhance productivity and reduce the risk of work-related stress and burnout.
How can digital employee experience help improve security?
You can’t protect what you don’t know about, which is why gaining complete visibility into the digital employee experience also improves security. For example, AI-powered solutions can perform security enforcement and compliance auditing tasks, such as automatically locking devices and isolating them from the network. Other abilities include automating patch-management, checking the status of anti-malware updates and validating access requests.
As a human-centered approach, DEX can also improve the effectiveness of existing security programs by minimizing friction between employees and security policies and controls. Not only does this mean that security controls are more likely to work as intended – it also means higher adoption rates and a reduced risk of employees trying to circumvent controls for the sake of convenience. In other words, by better understanding employees’ behavior and their decision-making processes, organizations can better influence behavior and mitigate risk. DEX also provides additional context and insight into security posture, such as the patch status of each device or how current antimalware definitions are.
How can organizations better align security and user experience goals?
The most robust information security strategies are those that take a human-centered approach. At no point should user experience and security controls contradict each other, and neither should they be viewed as competing disciplines.
To align security and user experience, IT and security teams should understand employee workflows, and design policies and controls that complement, rather than compete with, those workflows. Human-centric security design considers the individual first, rather than the technology or threat. This makes sense given that security is primarily a human challenge rather than a technical one. According to Gartner, a lack of talent or human failure will be directly responsible for over half of security incidents by 2025.
Examples of human-centric security include providing risk-appropriate but flexible controls that pay close attention to situational factors, such as the device or application the employee is using and the location or network they’re connecting from. Avoiding operational friction, such as lengthy and complicated login processes, is essential to building security workflows that align with DEX. Without that alignment, the risk of employees attempting to circumvent controls to get their work done conveniently and quickly is a lot higher.
For example, allowing employees to access all the applications and data they need to perform their roles with a single sign-on (SSO) and passwordless security is much easier for end users than having to remember several different sets of login credentials.
How can organizations ensure that security does not negatively impact digital employee experience?
Many digital work environments have security controls that are disruptive and hinder employees’ ability to perform their daily tasks. This scenario must be avoided to achieve maximum efficiency and security. Instead of viewing security and employee experience as competing disciplines, view them as working together to elevate productivity levels.
Firstly, IT managers should recognize that preventing security incidents can itself become a way to improve employee experiences. Security concerns are, of course, warranted and breach events can significantly impact productivity. On the other hand, cumbersome security controls, such as high-friction authentication processes, patch deployment processes, and network tunneling solutions, can also degrade endpoint performance and disrupt employees.
To minimize the impact of security on DEX, IT and security teams must deploy adaptable, automated processes that align with legitimate employee workflows. Security solutions that use human-centric design principles, such as single sign-on (SSO) and the principle of least privilege (PoLP), can minimize friction and disruption while maintaining the highest possible security standards. Furthermore, risk-based vulnerability management and automated patch deployment allows organizations to preserve security with minimal impact on endpoint performance and service availability. In this manner, DEX promotes closer collaboration between IT and security teams.
Managing digital employee experience (DEX)
How can you measure digital employee experience (DEX)?
The first step to measuring digital employee experience is to aggregate all data points regarding user endpoints, security controls and the services they rely on. Administrators can get a holistic view of the end-to-end user experience with data aggregation. Modern analytics solutions also provide contextual insights and remediation recommendations to help prevent issues from impacting employees. Over time, the collection of data helps track and optimize experiences based on established trend baselines.
Another key indicator for measuring DEX is the DEX score, offering a simple, high-level way to measure your employees’ experience with their digital workplaces. For companies with experience-level agreements (XLAs), the DEX score is typically the primary success metric.
Leaders can also measure DEX through employee surveys and interviews, along with interactive fully automated measures like sentiment analysis of communications channels. For example, organizations can track user behaviors and interactions to identify common pain points and areas for improvement. Leaders can then use these insights to develop solutions and enhance experiences.
Qualitative measures include tracking metrics like access requests, application and service errors, response times and session lengths. These metrics provide valuable insights into the efficiency of workflows and the effectiveness of digital tools, thereby allowing administrators to identify what works and what doesn’t.
Who owns digital employee experience (DEX)?
As a relatively new concept, the digital employee experience is often siloed and lacking a clear owner. In these environments, disparate teams attempt to address factors impacting DEX independently, often without any centralized oversight. This results in a lack of visibility and accountability — allowing for issues to go unnoticed or take too long to resolve.
Naturally, there are many stakeholders involved in employee experience. For example, HR teams may focus on onboarding, benefits and payments, workflows and their supporting technologies. While end user computing (EUC) specialists focus on the performance of individual applications but not on things like reducing context-switching between applications. This leads to different departments focusing on different — and potentially conflicting — metrics, which may not correlate to delivering a better employee experience.
Ideally, larger organizations in particular will designate a specific individual or group to monitor, manage and improve DEX. This individual will oversee a team of stakeholders representing individual teams, including IT, HR and UX. To advance DEX and reap its many benefits, organizations should establish clear ownership and accountability in which all teams collect relevant employee feedback, leverage employee experience analytics, regularly discuss learnings and best practices and adopt a design-centric approach to employee workflows. Usually, IT managers will play a leading role in this transformation by carrying out the work necessary to understand and meet employees’ technology expectations.
What can IT decision makers do to improve digital employee experience?
To improve digital employee experience, IT managers must shift from reactive troubleshooting to a proactive approach. As the main owners of DEX, IT managers should take the following steps to improve it:
Assess your tech stack: carry out a comprehensive audit of your existing tech stack to identify areas in need of improvement. Invest in solutions that can collect real-time data on end user experience and automate issue resolution at scale.
- Augment and connect your data sources: connect all relevant data sources, such as endpoint, application, service and network logs, to gain real-time visibility into systems and track performance. Augmenting and connecting your data sources helps managers identify and resolve issues before they impact employees.
- Leverage automation: use automated and interactive solutions to collect employee feedback and proactively resolve recurring issues. Leveraging automation will help reduce the burden on helpdesk support and other IT staff, freeing up their time to focus on strategic initiatives.
Elevate Everywhere Work: with the rise of remote work, it’s essential to give teams the tools and technology they need to work from anywhere while maintaining rigid security standards. However, security shouldn’t have to come at a cost to user experience.
What are some key best practices for managing the digital employee experience?
Managing the digital employee experience correctly can drive positive cultural change throughout the organization, enhance productivity and help towards achieving key business goals. Here are some of the best practices for managing DEX effectively:
- Treat DEX as a product: IT managers should treat DEX as a product and their employees like customers. Adopting a product mindset means taking a user-centric approach to design and delivery, with a focus on delivering value to the end user.
- Focus on user needs: by developing empathy for the needs of employees, IT managers can create solutions that elevate employee experiences. This means understanding the user’s journey and their pain points and goals and using this knowledge to deliver a more engaging experience.
- Take an outcome-based approach: focus on outcomes rather than outputs. Outcomes include anything that directly adds value to the business, such as the level of employee satisfaction. Outputs, such as the number of devices deployed or tickets resolved, by contrast, don’t necessarily translate into business value.
- Have full coverage of the digital workplace: IT teams need to track every device, application and other digital asset that employees rely on to perform their daily tasks. With complete coverage, managers have full visibility into the employee experience and the knowledge needed to optimize it. Furthermore, DEX should support the seamless transition between the devices that employees use for work, including laptops, tablets and desktops.
How can organizations most effectively manage digital employee experience?
The most effective way to manage digital employee experience is to take a proactive approach. Ideally, this means preventing problems from occurring in the first place where possible and, if they do, taking corrective action before they negatively impact employees. AI-powered Intelligent automation is an important part of the process, especially because more than half of IT teams currently end up manually diagnosing and resolving issues. This process is time-consuming and resource-intensive, inevitably leading to disruption.
Solutions, like Ivanti Neurons for Digital Experience, use intelligent data collection and analysis, along with AI-driven remediation, to identify and rapidly resolve root causes of frequently reported issues. By automating issue resolution, IT teams can free up time to focus on strategic decision-making and introducing new and improved services.
From a technical standpoint, DEX management requires comprehensive coverage of the entire digital workplace. This involves deploying monitoring and analytics tools across the tech stack to gain complete visibility into the employee experience.
What to look for in a DEX management solution?
A digital employee experience management platform should have capabilities that enable managers to monitor the health of the entire DEX. It should help benchmark employee experience against internal goals, automate routine problem-resolution workflows and provide actionable insights without overloading decision-makers with irrelevant data. Here are the key features to look out for:
- Holistic and granular visibility: the platform must cover every aspect of the DEX. This includes physical and virtual endpoints, client-side and SaaS applications and internal and external networks. The solution should support thousands of metrics out of the box, allowing users to track the ones that matter to them. Strong integration with virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions and native monitoring tools is also essential.
- Quantitative and qualitative insights: the platform should provide actionable insights that help IT managers score DEX, benchmark it against internal goals and justify the business value of DEX improvements. The most comprehensive solutions go further by providing built-in recommendations to help DEX practitioners fix and proactively prevent issues. AI-powered sentiment analysis can collect qualitative insights to gauge things like employee satisfaction.
- Automated remediation: while monitoring remains a core capability in any DEX management platform, look for solutions that provide automated remediation for recurring issues. Leading platforms provide self-healing across endpoints and thanks to automation, AI and low-code orchestration, they can scale quickly and reliably across thousands of endpoints. This automated remediation enables helpdesk support teams to focus on strategic service improvements and issues that require human intervention.
Security and compliance: the platform should support the seamless application of security controls and compliance policies in a way that also reduces friction for end users. For example, single sign-on (SSO) and zero trust authentication (ZTA) reduce complexity and help ensure peace of mind everywhere your organization works. Also, a comprehensive DEX solution will monitor the health of every device in real time to proactively identify issues and provide remediation advice.
Impact on employees and IT tech stack
What is the connection between digital employee experience and employee engagement?
Digital employee experience and employee engagement are closely related, simply because improved experiences lead to more engaged employees, which, in turn, translates into higher productivity levels. Furthermore, employees are most engaged when they know they’re making progress towards their daily goals. However, without proper oversight, technology can end up being a gatekeeper to productivity, with poor experiences inhibiting employees’ ability to perform in their roles — leading to frustration and disengagement.
It's the responsibility of IT managers to remove these technological barriers to enhance experiences and improve engagement. By providing employees with effective tools, IT managers can help teams achieve their daily objectives, thus leading to higher productivity and job satisfaction. This, in turn, has a positive impact on customer satisfaction and ultimately the organization’s bottom line.
What is the role of analytics in improving digital employee experience?
Data analytics plays a crucial role in improving digital employee experience by providing insights that decision-makers need to take remediation action. Analytics provide information about the problem and the device it’s occurring on, enabling managers to quickly troubleshoot and remediate the issue while minimizing the impact on employee workflows. Interactive real-time analytics dashboards go even further by monitoring employee experience as it happens.
In addition to real-time analytics, AI-powered recommendation engines offer actionable remediation advice. They can also identify patterns in device and software issues, predict future problems and suggest solutions for IT teams to implement. Sentiment analysis is another powerful analytics tool for DEX, since it analyzes communications to determine how employees feel about their interactions with the organization’s technology. Translated into actionable insights, decision-makers can then deliver targeted solutions to boost adoption rates, productivity and morale.
What does it mean to treat the digital employee experience as a product?
Treating digital employee experience as a product means managing it with the same level of attention and care as you would a product or service you offer to customers. In this case, your employees are your internal customers, and their success directly translates into business value.
Adopting a product mindset means focusing on the needs of the end user and the experience they have when interacting with their digital workplaces. It also means taking an outcome-based approach and measuring success based on the impact the digital workplace has on employee engagement and productivity.
A product mindset involves having full coverage of the digital workplace, including every employee touchpoint and any pain points that might hinder productivity and engagement. As with customer-facing products, this involves continuous monitoring, measuring and improvement, in which products and services are iteratively developed and enhanced in line with evolving employee expectations.