“There are known knowns; these are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don't know we don't know… it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.” Donald Rumsfeld, 2002
I mention the above quote because every day I work with clients that don’t know they are living a mediocre digital existence, sitting on huge potential for a more productive workforce and happier customers.
As a consultant delivering Human Experience Management solutions, I am fortunate enough to give my clients something they couldn’t get before and enable leaders to finally treat IT as a part of the business that links to business value, rather than a necessary business unit that does everything it can to keep the wheels turning.
Typically, IT teams today have people, procedures, tools and expertise to manage systems and suppliers, but they lack the direction to effectively implement infrastructure and systems that deliver continuously excellent experiences of digital services, everywhere, all of the time. They are building minimum viable digital ecosystems that ‘do the job’.
Usually the result is an overworked and underappreciated team stuck in an endless cycle of reacting to fire after fire. For IT teams that do get opportunities to improve something with the goal of better experiences for their users, they are reliant on their partners and suppliers to deliver that promise, they must take risks on new technologies and, more often than not, hope it’s going to improve staff and customer experience.
Every day I see this hope; that 5G might solve all their problems, that the latest SD-WAN will ensure seamless digital experience all the time, that more access points are going to solve the never-ending Wi-Fi issues. IT teams must make promises to the business and hope that shiny new technical solutions are going to solve the human problem, without even knowing the true extent of it.
In reality, it’s guesswork; routers are getting old, so it must be time to update them with the remaining budget they have, or their contract with their ISP is coming to an end and perhaps another one will offer a better service?
Why is IT a guessing game?
Delivery of services, applications and infrastructure is assured through SLAs that cover availability - is the provided service “up” or “down”.
When all the lights are green, all the services in the delivery chain are up and running and meeting SLAs.
When something goes red, a piece of the delivery chain is down, the supplier probably already knows about it and it may be close to breaching the SLA for the month. You can bet they are doing everything they can to get it back up before all their customers start opening tickets.
The problem is, from the perspective of the human, “up” is not binary. It does not necessarily mean a good experience. “Up” is a vast spectrum of experience.
Systems are up but staff or customers are still complaining about the service or, even worse, they aren’t complaining but are losing productivity at work or abandoning their online shop because it’s slower than a competitor’s site. And nobody even knows.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure
I talk with leaders that care massively about experience, productivity and their brand. IT teams have visibility of the performance factors that drive a good experience of an application: ‘low’ latency and jitter, ‘low’ (or no) loss and servers that are ‘quick’ to respond to user demands, but they can’t find meaning in the data:
- What is ‘low’ latency or ‘quick’ response time for one service versus another and how is the human impacted?
- How can real-time data help us find small weaknesses that accumulate over time?
Therefore, their only option is to define experience through these technical performance metrics. The problem is that the impact on the human of continually shifting performance metrics is complex and non-linear. As a result, often the wrong conclusions are drawn and time, resource and investment are wasted.
The limitation of technical tool-sets
IT teams have an abundance of tools to measure these metrics; both end to end (e.g. is the content or media stream delivered to the end user quickly?) and at a device level (e.g. is a router responding when needed, and quickly?). These tool-sets even promise measurement of user experience, but this promise defines user experience in terms of response times of systems - there is no actual tie between the performance metrics and what a human would feel.
There are no set rules defining what any given performance metric means for the human’s experience. It depends what users are trying to do, what applications they are running and where they are. Interpreting this is un-manageable even for one user. If IT does have the time to trawl endless performance metrics, interpreting them is nothing more than educated guesswork. As a result, the human experience of the whole business is almost completely un-managed yet every improvement in human experience has the potential to both increase sales and reduce costs for a business.
So how do we remove the guesswork and scale it up for hundreds and thousands of users?
The key is in the analysis
Through 20 years of research (so far) we have done what nobody else has. We’ve learnt what performance metrics actually mean for different services and applications. We’ve cut through the non-linearity of human perception, we understand the endlessly shifting nature of digital ecosystems and can turn millions of performance data points into actionable, business impacting information.
We use a sophisticated state of the art software agent that provides a light-touch, robust measurement platform which, when coupled with our Analytics Cloud and algorithms, delivers the Human Experience Score: a data-driven view of what customers and employees would say about human experience of digital services. Not only can we report the human experience, we can analyse it over time to identify what is holding it back from peak performance. A real-time view of human experience is a technological breakthrough in itself. Analysing it over time against the performance of every infrastructure component is what makes it truly powerful.
What does this mean for the business?
By understanding the meaning in performance data, business leaders now have the keys to transform the business through their IT organisations. Investment in IT can be made with confidence that the employees can do their job more efficiently and customers can transact with ease.
Every day, our professional services provide simple, but evidence-based and meaningful recommendations to our clients. In some cases; the impact is incremental, and each improvement unlocks another, in other cases; the impact is immediately tangible and profound.
Without Human Experience Management, however, IT is stuck in a reactive cul-de-sac and leaders cannot unlock the unknown potential of their business.