Jul 26, 2022 Mark Banfield

From Observability to the Digital Employee Experience (DEX): it’s time to delight IT users

Monitoring has been a critical function of IT operations teams for decades. By instrumenting infrastructure and applications, CIOs have been able to show the performance and reliability of IT services to their boards. However, there is a problem here: even if all the lights are green, IT needs to move past simple KPIs to please end-users with outstanding and measurable digital experiences.
From-Observability-to-the-Digital-Employee-Experience- DEX -it s-time-to-delight-IT-users

Too often, IT uses data like the drunk uses a lamppost: more for support than illumination. By focusing on the Digital Employee Experience (DEX), they can gain a true measure of how happy users are with the services provided. We know that the pandemic and stay-at-home orders accelerated digital transformation, and we can build on that start. Out of necessity, radically digitizing the employee and the customer experience took place over the course of days, weeks, or months, where previously these were thought to be multi-year projects.

Suddenly, employees were working remotely and supporting customers and partners through purely digital channels – and often the results were excellent. Today, we may embrace a hybrid-working model where we combine face-to-face with virtual interactions, but nobody is going back to inflexibility. We need to listen to users and log their feedback to deliver terrific experiences. Gartner’s research supports this notion, finding that “by 2025, more than 50% of IT organizations will use Digital Employee Experience to prioritize and measure digital initiative success, which is a significant increase from fewer than 5% in 2021.” 

This is more important today than ever before for two key reasons: 

  1. First, downtime isn’t just an annoyance: high levels of availability and performance are now critical to business success because everything is being digitized and virtualized. As Marc Andreessen famously wrote, “software is eating the world.” We need our digital operations to be smooth and rapid.  
  2. Second, our biggest differentiator today is often our people, so we need to keep them happy and empowered. An employee or customer suffering poor digital experiences will be unhappy. Our 2022 research indicates 90% of respondents believe there are links between DEX and workforce happiness. In the current climate of the Great Resignation, employees will vote with their feet and opt for the employer who provides a better, enabling experience.  

Strong connectivity and infrastructure are the table stakes of our digital world. Whether you’re a wealth manager in a bank who has traded in-person meetings for Zoom meetings, or a doctor that has begun digitally triaging patients before allocating appointments, you need the technology to work.  

All of this goes back to IT Operations, which exists to ensure uptime and quality services. Historically, IT has measured itself through service-level agreements (SLAs) via observability: the practice of instrumenting systems with tools to gather actionable data and sniff out problems across networks, clouds, applications, data centers, and so on. However, observability has a problem in that it doesn’t consider the employee experience. And in recent years we’ve seen a continued move from SLAs to XLAs (experience-level agreements).  


Beware the watermelon effect  

Without monitoring and measuring the user experience, it’s impossible to know if the IT service you are delivering is satisfying your audience. Approaches to IT operations must therefore be experience-first and user-centric or you risk the “watermelon effect” – on the outside it’s all green, but go beneath the surface and its red.  

Starting with the experience also means changing how you measure impact. Measuring success by an SLA is not enough, so organizations should shift to an XLA. An XLA considers the overall digital experience through collating user feedback and acts as a baseline for iterative improvements to be made.  

While everyone obsesses over customer experiences, don’t underestimate the significance of employee experience! For example, our recent survey highlights that: 

  • 91% believe DEX influences operational efficiency 
  • 86% believe DEX influences organizational revenue  
  • 85% believe DEX influences go-to-market speed 
  • 88% believe DEX influences employee retention  

Build it in as an adjunct to standard monitoring to create bridges with users and discover what makes them happy or unhappy. Forward-thinking enterprises are revolutionizing the ways in which they measure IT success because they know that if users are happy, then IT is doing a good job. The results are clear: enterprises leading with DEX report a 33% higher employee satisfaction rate and up to seven times fewer digital disruptions. They also see a dramatic reduction in service-desk tickets and, by automating remediations and providing a “white glove” approach whereby users don’t have to contact the help desks, they see faster resolution times. Typically, this adds up to a 70% reduction in overall service-desk costs.  

In a competitive world, companies that prioritize the digital experience are set to win by supporting a productive and engaged workforce that can trust and rely on their IT. Observability is still part of the answer, but without the critical focus on the employee experience, it will fail to meet the growing demands of the digital workforce.  


Interested in learning more about Digital Employee Experience? You’re in luck! Our 2022 research report provides a detailed look into the current state of DEX.