Taking the human approach with your digital ecosystem

Author: Dave Page, CEO

Published: 11 July 2019

The digital ecosystem is the backbone of every business.

Very few businesses can deliver their services without technology, but investing in solutions is only the first step and the digital ecosystem’s success depends on much more than the amount of money the business has thrown behind it.

The effect a poorly performing ecosystem has on the wider business is enormous. Think about the myriad solutions and apps you depend on every day to get work done. You communicate with colleagues via video conferencing software, the finance department files invoices through cloud-based bookkeeping software, sales tracks prospective clients through its CRM.

Imagine if even one of these systems wasn’t performing at its optimum and was in fact hindering the performance of employees. Imagine if these state-of-the-art solutions were causing daily frustration and costing the business millions of pounds a year in wasted productivity.

Sadly, this is the reality for a large number of enterprises. Who hasn’t sat there in frustration watching the video conferencing solution buffer endlessly, wasting everybody’s time?

Even more concerning is that many businesses are not even aware of this financial waste because they’ve been measuring their solutions by the wrong metric, or in some cases not measuring their digital ecosystem at all.

Unmeasured and under-performing

Common practice has been to measure a digital ecosystem by its technical performance. This may have worked back when businesses managed their technology in-house but now nearly every business depends on at least one third-party supplier to deliver part of its digital ecosystem.

As the path from solution-to-user grows in complexity and length, the opportunity for issues increases. This path often includes many businesses, technologies, networks, data centres and applications to deliver a digital service.

Often it can appear as if everything is functioning normally – all the lights are green and reports are coming back positive - and yet, tickets keep getting logged about lagging solutions and frustrating user experiences.

With a vast digital ecosystem that exists beyond your business, there could be an issue with a third-party supplier you’re unaware of because you can’t view the performance of the digital ecosystem as a whole nor pinpoint where the issue stems from.

Viewing your digital ecosystem from the human experience – the day to day experience of using systems – can help pinpoint the cause of the issue.

The human experience viewpoint highlights the productivity pitfalls of a digital ecosystem – where employees are losing time every day due to solution issues. Unproductive (and frustrated) employees affect the business bottom line and you will never make a return on investment on that expensive CRM if sales reps are struggling to hit their quotas because the system is actually slowing them down rather than helping them.

Take another example - measuring an SD-WAN ecosystem. Providing a consistent, high-quality service requires insight and visibility into the entire, disparate ecosystem to determine what cog in the chain is causing an intermittent service. You could discover that a less direct route provides the best human experience as it is more stable and consistent.

Analysing real-world data we discovered that a Digital Quality Score (our measure of user experience based on a scale of 0 to 100) of 80 represents a perfect human experience and anything below this is affecting employee productivity by as much as a quarter of a working day.

For an average FTSE company with a 20% digital business suffering even a 5 point Digital Quality Score drop, the cost of wasted time could be as much as £55m or 1.4% of the fully loaded wage costs. If the digital business of the company is closer to 40% and the Digital Quality Score drops by 15 points then the cost for wasted time can increase to £344m or 8.4% of the fully loaded wage costs. Not exactly a drop in the ocean for your business!

Approaching technical performance issues from a human experience perspective highlights issues that would otherwise go unnoticed and roll on until the issue escalates to a serious service disruption.

All technology has great potential to improve business productivity and help employees generate profits, but its potential is often squandered when businesses monitor or measure the wrong thing instead of the entire complex digital ecosystem.

Organisations need to switch their way of thinking when it comes to technology and tackle issues with a ‘humans first, technology second’ approach. That will deliver the improvements necessary for raising productivity in a tangible way.