Close the IT Experience Gap for Employees and their Devices with Workforce Personas

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Personas can be a great technique for IT organizations to use for gaining insights into how to improve employee experiences.

The promise of persona research is that you can learn about patterns of user needs, issues and behaviors and then define solutions for those things in a bulk/group manner. Typically, these persona groupings are defined by role/job family or by workstyle. Essentially, if you can use persona research to find patterns of experience problems that people have, then IT can better optimize what it offers.

Customers sometimes struggle with how to best leverage this persona technique in the real world because the feedback and data can be overwhelming. For example, when it comes to matching employees with the right end user computing (EUC) devices like laptops, persona research can reveal a myriad of patterns such as too few choices, too many choices, performance mismatches and mobility mismatches. These mismatches between what IT is currently providing employees and what would make employees have a better experience is often called the IT experience gap.

We’re helping customers close these experience gaps with Workforce Persona QuickStart, the newest addition to the Workforce Persona Services portfolio.

Workforce Persona QuickStart

The Workforce Persona QuickStart service focuses specifically on identifying experience gaps for EUC solutions that IT provides to its workforce. Dell leverages valuable telemetry data from digital experience management tools to profile individual employee usage patterns with their EUC devices and applications. These usage patterns will reveal some of the experience gaps and mismatches described earlier (performance, mobility, etc.). With this data we can map employees to the right personas based upon Dell Technologies best practices for EUC workstyles: Remote employee, Desk centric, Corridor warrior, Creative and Engineer, On-the-go-pro, and Field employee. These mappings result in practical, actionable guidance for determining what device and peripheral choices to offer each persona grouping in order to deliver the right experiences.

To illustrate how this works, let’s consider some real-world examples of this persona technique in action.

Personas in the Real World

We worked with a customer that asked us to not only help close some ‘experience gaps’ and improve their EUC experiences but also to identify opportunities to reduce cost. Part of our approach included quantitative data (telemetry) while the rest focused on qualitative data such as interviews and observations.

One of the interviews was with a business analyst we’ll call Shonda. She normally works at various project sites and described herself as a road warrior. Some of you can already relate to that phrase without me describing what a road warrior is. Up at dawn to catch a flight, laptop bag in hand, pulling her carry-on suitcase. Working all day wherever she can find an internet connection and a quiet space. Rinse and repeat.

What we discovered from Shonda was the high-performance laptop she has is heavy and doesn’t fit on the small tray tables on regional jets so she can’t work on most of her flights. And while the performance is helpful when she’s multi-tasking, the battery life isn’t ideal for a road warrior. She seemed willing to trade-off performance for better mobility, but ideally wants a balance of both. Shonda has an IT experience gap.

The other part of the project was to help the customer find opportunities for optimizing and reducing costs. Two years prior, a business unit with 175 people in it had received approval to buy engineering workstations. It justified the need by explaining they were going to use highly compute-intensive applications for data crunching and referenced a few employees as typical examples.

During our persona engagement, we analyzed telemetry data on those employees’ existing devices to understand usage patterns. We discovered that most of the 175 employees were over-provisioned with their compute power, often only using about 25% of their available CPU and RAM capacities. The telemetry data also showed that those same employees had not even launched or used any of those high-cost, specialized applications on their machines. This is also an IT experience gap, and resulted in opportunities for the customer to reduce spend on devices and expensive software licenses.

Making Personas Actionable

Prior to our persona project, the company had one “standard laptop,” one “standard desktop” and one “high performance laptop” in their device catalog, and then approved any other variations as exceptions (such as the BU example I described). This persona research illustrated that IT’s catalog for EUC devices was too simple, and that they had tangible opportunities to improve employee experience, reduce the quantity of “exceptions” and optimize total spend.

As a result, the customer moved to a model with seven “workstyle-based” personas in order to offer slightly more variety to the business while also keeping the total variations relatively low. Each workstyle-based persona included a corresponding set of specific device and peripheral bundles. Shonda became mapped to a new “On the Go Pro” persona. And the employees in that 175-person BU were mapped to an “Engineering/Creative” persona if they were one of the high-compute users or the “Desk-Centric” persona if their usage history suggested they were just a general-purpose office worker.

Proof that Personas Work

As a practice lead for Dell Technologies Consulting Services focused on workforce transformation, I see examples like this consistently, which is why I’m such a big believer in leveraging a persona-based operating model and approach by an IT organization across all its services. The results can be lowered costs and improved employee experiences, which many of you might think is contradictory and not achievable.

How Dell Technologies Can Help

So now comes the tough questions: How well do you know your workforce? How do you know that your EUC offerings are working for your employees? Do you know how the workforce feels about the support they are getting from your IT organization? Do you have the right balance of experience and cost in your environment? And lastly… do you know where to start if you DO want to begin to focus on improving employee experiences?

The Workforce Persona QuickStart service was created specifically for organizations who need to get started using personas to help them improve experiences but aren’t sure how to take that first step. This gives organizations the foundation needed to begin to optimize their EUC technology alignment, similar to what I’ve described in this blog – getting the right technology to the right employee.

To learn more about personas, watch ‘Improve Worker Experiences‘ (animated video) and read our Workforce Persona Service Overview.

Comment below if you have any thoughts or questions, I am happy to respond.

About the Author: Matthew Roberts

Matt Roberts has been with Consulting Services since 2006. Collaborating with customers for so many years to enable their employees to just get work done, he has a unique perspective on how best to leverage technology that spans Dell’s strategically aligned businesses, the Microsoft ecosystem, and other third party software to achieve real workforce transformations for clients. Matt is passionate about digital transformation, modernizing digital app experiences and developing solutions that make the digital workplace as productive, engaged, and connected as possible. With 20+ years of software and consulting experience, his career has focused on Digital and Web/App Development. He has broad digital strategy, solution and technology architecture expertise; with specific depth in portal, collaboration, digital/web, content mgmt., search, and ITSM solutions.
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