Customizing IT User Experience: To Enable Workstyles in Our Digital Workplace

Corey is a hyper-mobile, customer-facing sales representative who is not technically inclined. Sean is an office-based, highly technical engineer. And Jessica is a collaborative and non-technical business professional with a flexible workstyle, working in the office, at home or on the road when it makes sense.

They are just some of the different people with different workstyles that today’s IT organizations need to accommodate as they strive to address a huge shift in what users want for tools and services to be productive both in and out of the office in today’s workplace.

After conducting more than two years of persona and workstyle research, Dell IT recently took a groundbreaking first step in tailoring our tools and services to match our distinctive user groups. We unveiled the Sales Jetpack—a combination of devices, tools, services and education resources specifically focused on our customer-facing, mobile sales staff around the globe.

The idea is to give our field sales professionals— represented by our defined persona Corey, mentioned above—an IT kit of sorts that will enable them to be as effective as possible in doing their specific job. The Jetpack bundle starts with a new Dell laptop, which our sales staff gets annually anyway. In this case, the laptop is a cutting-edge, two-in-one, touch screen model that allows sales folks to take notes on the screen as they interact with clients.

Beyond that, the package includes new cloud-enabled, productivity management software that provides email, social networking services, and collaboration capabilities, as well as a headset that will ensure the best conferencing experience while connecting remotely.

For the first time, we are actually presenting a distinctive set of users with what they should use and how they should use it to be the most productive and effective in their job.

The Sales Jetpack is only the beginning of what we envision as many more initiatives to customize our IT services to the needs of the people that use them, however. In fact, we have currently singled out six different personas— representations or composites of a significant group of people within our enterprise—and three basic workstyles to serve as major drivers of our newly defined digital workplace experience.

More than character sketches

The impetus behind our more personalized approach to IT User Experience is more than just an exercise in providing interesting backstories to fictitious composites of our various IT clients.  The fact is that the corporate world is changing and we need to move from the outdated 9-to-5 office of 20 years ago to a more contemporary workplace that fits the needs of today’s many types of employees who want flexibility in where, when and how they work.

We need to create a digital workplace that will meet the expectations of a workforce that expects our technology to keep pace with what they use in their daily lives outside of work.

To do this, we’ve defined our digital workplace effort around three key workstyles: those who work in the office in the more traditional workplace mode, those who work from home via remote capabilities, and those who work on the road using mobile technology.  Learn more about these three workstyles, here: “In Pursuit of the Digital Workplace; Flexible, Mobile, Crucial.”

IT User Experience-Key Workstyles

Effectively, we are striving to allow our team members to work from wherever they feel most productive in a way that balancing their work and life styles.

Dell IT is still in the process of upgrading the capabilities to provide seamless WiFi and contemporary meeting space in the office; seamless access and rich conferencing abilities from home; and increased mobile apps, seamless access and one-click meeting capabilities on the road.

How we got started

Establishing key personas is helping us take IT User Experience to a whole new level by providing a unique framework to help us tailor those upgraded IT tools and services to specific user groups.

Our persona research actually started as a way to meet the needs of team members from acquisition companies as part of the integration process. A few years ago, we had acquired a number of start-up companies at which workers were accustom to more flexible digital workplace capabilities.

Our User Experience team actually went to some of these companies and interviewed team members about their needs, previous experiences and how we could enable them. From that we put together our first persona, Sean Ryan, a contemporary developer. The persona proved to be very useful in guiding our IT strategy, so we put together more personas for different user groups based on different types of user research – interviews, surveys, direct feedback, and observation.

We have found that personas are invaluable design tools. They let IT make informed decisions about how people that we haven’t met will interact with our services. With personas, we can better understand where we have gaps in our portfolio for specific groups of people.

We singled out six personas as key drivers for our current digital workplace effort and we plan to put together similar targeted packages of tools and services for those groups in addition to our newly-launched field sales initiative.  The remaining five are remote support, engineering, business professional, pre-sales and field support.

IT User Experience-Key Personas

As we make improvements to our IT services, we are constantly getting feedback from users to make sure our efforts are on track. Every quarter we measure user satisfaction via a survey that goes out to 10,000 of our 140,000 team members and also use other broader feedback surveys to determine where our services need improvement. Our satisfaction scores are broken out by persona and region to target what issues need to be addressed.

All of these tools are helping us stay ahead of fast-changing working patterns, technology and shifting expectations in a workforce where it is increasingly clear that when it comes to IT tools and services, one size doesn’t fit all.

About the Author: Stephen Fleming