As CIOs, we have a general sense of how people feel about IT. Some of this knowledge comes from formal measures like CSAT but we’re also plugged into anecdotal feedback when considering user experience. While it’s useful to know that people are saying ‘this piece of software is rubbish’, we also need actionable intelligence in order to balance investment in innovation with maintaining business-as-usual.

Of course, it’s always been possible to measure stability and performance at the individual user and device level. But now, telemetry of the kind we’re actively using at Acora lets you measure them at scale across the organisation. For the first time, it’s possible to build a comprehensive picture, identify trends and hotspots, and throw light on user experience issues affecting people’s productivity and wellbeing.

So how do we use it to move the needle? Actually improve the user experience? And then measure the human and commercial impacts of that improvement?

Ironically, perhaps, technology itself has done us a bit of a disservice in this respect. In effect, by getting faster and smarter, IT is now better at masking its own failings and shortcomings. When it took 10 minutes to reboot a PC, the issue was obvious. With a solid-state hard drive, it takes 90 seconds. If an earlier version of Word went down, it invariably took your entire morning’s work with it. These days, it’ll (usually) still be there when you restart.

The Performance Paradox

As a result, performance and reliability problems have become minor frustrations, rather than disasters. This in turn means it’s generally quicker for users to shrug and resolve issues themselves than raise a ticket. So when it comes to their annual CSAT, users have no major complaints to report. This can lead to what we at Acora term ‘The Performance Paradox’. Although your SLAs are green across the board, there’s a background rumble of dissatisfaction and loss of confidence in IT.

And this matters, particularly in the light of what we’ve learned through the pandemic: IT performance and stability relate directly to productivity. In the legal sector, for example, time is literally money: six minutes lost to reboots and restarts over the day has a measurable impact on a fee earner’s billing. Beyond these ‘hard’ losses, there’s the distraction factor. The time users need, on top of the IT downtime, to get back into their previous ‘flow state’ represents an important additional ‘soft’ loss. Whether people are on-site or remote, we need to see IT as an integral element of their workplace; and one that contributes to their sense of worth and value, as well as their ability to perform.  

Technical Debt

All of which just adds to the pressure when it comes to making investment decisions. The challenge is compounded for some CIOs by a backdrop of old, outdated systems and architectures resulting from systemic, long-term underinvestment – or ‘technical debt’, as it’s known.

Where there’s significant technical debt, the potential for an unpleasant surprise is considerable. You introduce one small app change, which you’ve confidently declared will be transformational. Suddenly the entire system slows down, destabilises or falls over entirely. Instead of solving an existing problem, your innovation has created a new one. And far from improving efficiency, it’s brought everything to a grinding halt. Users are upset and frustrated, customer service is compromised and as far as the business is concerned, it’s all IT’s fault (as usual).

Again, telemetry can provide vital insights and actionable intelligence to help overcome these issues. Piloting app and tool changes let you see how a small cohort of people use and respond to it. In so doing, you can identify conflicts with other software or devices that struggle to support it. You can even conduct A/B testing on different versions and see which one your users prefer. All of which helps prevent problems, boost adoption rates and, not unimportantly, protect CIOs and their teams.

How Acora Can Help

Collecting and using user experience data in this way is still fairly new, but it’s developing extremely rapidly. At Acora we’re at the forefront of applying it as a measure of IT success. If you’d like to find out more about what we’re doing and how it could help your organisation, please get in touch here.


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