Oct 28, 2021 Hannah Lenane

What’s the secret to achieving the benefits of digital employee experience (DEX)? Service desk innovation

As we continue to move toward a modern world of hybrid working, organizations must move away from legacy approaches to IT, becoming more proactive and employee-centric. That means we need to eliminate the rising challenge of digital friction and provide a seamless digital employee experience. But how? The secret lies in service desk innovation.
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In our previous blog we explored the journey from endpoint management to digital employee experience management – what it is, why it matters, and the benefits for a modern hybrid workforce.

But if the insights and research explored at the recent Work From Anywhere Conference (WFA) taught us anything, it’s that the success of your DEX program depends on innovation across the board. Why? Let’s answer that question with a statement, as explained by Andrew Hewitt, Sr Analyst at Forrester:

“Digital employee experience is the sum of all the perceptions employees have working with the technology and services your organization provides.”

With an estimated 40% of companies expected to be operating in a hybrid model by 2023, employees will continue to engage with an organization in a digital-first way. This means that your organization’s tech and services provide a seamless, efficient digital employee experience – especially when it comes to the service desk.

What is the role of the service desk?

Historically speaking, the service desk is primarily an IT function that manages tickets, incidents, and service requests, as well as user communication. To get their work done, the service desk will rely on various IT service management (ITSM) tools.

But, you know what they say, the only constant is change. And as we all know, the last 18 months or so has catalyzed change like never before. The mass shift to hybrid and remote working has produced a demand for workplaces to not only become increasingly more digital, but employee-centric too. For the service desk, that’s had two major and interrelated impacts:

  1. A new way of measuring service desk efficiency to quantify the employee experience using Experience-Level Agreements to combat the so-called “watermelon effect”.
  2. The demand for proactive IT support to resolve experience issues faster; the kind that requires IT service desk automation that spans self-heal, self-service and resolution at L1. In essence, a true shift left strategy.

How is an XLA defined?

Experience-Level Agreements (XLAs) represent a “contract” between internal or external IT Services functions and the business organization. They’re built upon a set of quantifiable employee-centric metrics and outcomes and seek to provide insight into the employee – or customer – experience. XLAs represent a move away from overly SLA-focused. 


XLAs are a necessary pivot away from the traditional way of measuring IT effectiveness. Instead of measuring IT operational efficiency, the focus has turned to how IT services impact employee productivity and engagement. Why? Because digital friction has swiftly become one of the biggest challenges. In 2020 alone, 73% of employees said it took days, hours, or even weeks to get IT issues resolved. As such, productivity and engagement were adversely affected, and the service desk faced high levels of time-consuming manual remediation.

So, how can we better enable the service desk to meet the demands of a new employee-centric digital workplace?

The future of the service desk requires proactive IT support

With the service desk essentially front of house when it comes to IT, it’s the perfect place to focus your innovation efforts. In fact, Forrester advises that to achieve the benefits of DEX (such as 62% higher employee retention rates, 6X fewer digital experience disruptions, and 33% higher employee satisfaction), you need to evolve your service desk, focusing on providing proactive IT support.

What is proactive IT support?

Proactive IT support essentially means being able to predict and remediate IT issues before they become widespread or are even discovered by employees. Unlike reactive IT support measures, proactive IT means service desks don’t wait on an employee to raise an IT issue in order to fix it.

Proactive IT cannot happen without a service desk automation strategy that provides:

  • Endpoint self-healing
  • Self-service provisioning
  • Holistic root-cause analysis
  • Experience-focused metrics

What does IT automation mean for employees?

Let’s call a spade a spade, automation can be difficult. Unsurprisingly many IT initiatives fail as service desks struggle to truly automate at the level required, whilst meeting end users’ expectations for a self-sufficient modern service desk experience. That’s not to say it’s impossible, however. IT automation strategies can deliver real results, turning the most common manual tasks into automated resolutions, as exemplified in our WFA session with Janine Savoury, ARL for Global Service Desk at DXC Technology.

Based on her own service desk transformation journey, Janine explained that by taking away simple or redundant manual processes and allowing agents to focus on other more challenging or engaging tasks, the DEX at DXC improved: “We’ve seen that the more interesting challenges we present to agents, the better the service desk becomes”. Removing the mundane tasks that don’t require agent touch is essential.

The result? Service desks are empowered to flex their minds to solve problems that truly require a human touch. Removing the drudgery from the day-to-day also significantly impacts incident volume, agent workload, and employee satisfaction as your IT automation strategy is aligned to the issues most impacting employees.

Consider that recent research from EMA discovered that organizations utilizing IT automation to resolve greater than 50% of their end user challenges reported:

  • 41% fewer service requests
  • 59% fewer incidents of poor (slow) application performance
  • 53% fewer application hangs/crashes
  • 69% fewer network performance issues
  • 53% fewer patch deployment issues
  • 67% fewer application installation problems
  • 34% fewer memory utilization issues

Proactive IT support: that’s the secret to delivering a great digital employee experience.


Keen to learn more about creating an employee-centric digital workplace? The best place to start is by assessing where you are currently. Assess your DEX maturity with Forrester’s model here and begin your digital employee experience journey!