Time to upgrade the office: bringing the app store in-house

Patrick O’Connor, Director & General Manager at the DXC ServiceNow Practice illustrates why it’s time for businesses to empower their employees through bringing an app store in-house.

Workplace transformation is an ongoing trend that drives continuous evolution. Today’s offices are already unrecognisable to the cubicle-based reality of yesteryear, but new technologies are constantly evolving how we work and what our offices look like. And that’s if staff are even based in an office, given the popularity of working from anywhere with an internet connection.

What’s more, employee expectations continue to evolve, with two of the main demands being improvements in service management and better access to business services. Whether it’s IT or HR, employees want to access services just like they do outside of work via companies like Deliveroo, Uber, or Amazon. A considerable part of this change is how employees access the apps and software that they need to do their jobs.

This is why it’s now time for businesses to empower employees to help themselves and start making their own choices through a digital marketplace. The user experience is a critical factor in staff satisfaction and retention rates. Delivering what users want in a modern workplace will require businesses to build their own ‘app stores’, which feel familiar to employees by emulating popular digital stores that employees already use, and allow them to choose tools and applications they want to use.

Read More: Chatbots and AI: How do businesses use them effectively?

Once they have created their own app platforms, organisations should also enable staff to troubleshoot their own issues with the help of AI technology such as chatbots and collaboration portals. Interestingly, 86 per cent of executives plan to employ greater use of intelligent automation like AI by 2020, and self-service solutions could form a big part of this reality.

Design is the key to adoption

The key to building a successful digital marketplace is getting the design right – but it’s not just about how the platform looks. With employees used to the experience delivered by the likes of Apple and Google, a clunky, hard to use interface simply won’t cut it. What’s more, it’s not just the design of the platform and applications that needs to be user friendly, the content does too.

Language in the app stores that we regularly use is carefully chosen to be easy to understand, concise and very descriptive. Jargon is nowhere to be seen, and for the most part, content is always up to date. Not only does it need to be easy to navigate between applications, but the search function needs to be powerful and smart enough to help employees find what they are looking for quickly and easily.

Businesses that heed these lessons will be more successful in driving wide-scale adoption of an internal digital marketplace, of self-service IT, and in building their own internal community. Further growing these communities will also require buy-in from all departments, as only then will it be possible to keep all applications up to date.

We are all used to the daily updates of apps on our computers and smartphones, an internal service also needs to work on the basis of continual improvement, to keep employees coming back and naturally looking to self-serve. Teams responsible for each application must ensure they are reviewed on a regular basis and any issues that are flagged are dealt with in a timely manner.

Addressing issues automatically

If users do encounter problems with a digital marketplace or with applications available from it, enterprises must ensure there are structured processes in place to avoid the IT team receiving tens of phone calls or tickets about the same thing. AI chatbots can form an integral part of service management strategy by giving employees ‘someone’ to contact 24/7 – without time waiting on hold. This once again mirrors the consumer experience for the majority of us, who are becoming increasingly used to using AI-driven interfaces to get answers to our questions or to raise queries.

AI chatbots and enterprise level digital assistants have advanced quickly, and are now able to be contextually aware and to ‘think’ – making them much more accurate. For example, today’s systems can ask questions about IT problems before providing a step-by-step resolution, rather than just pointing a staff member to a knowledge base article. Gartner believes that 25 per cent of customer service operations will use virtual assistants by 2020, and there’s no reason why this figure can’t be equalled or even surpassed within enterprises ripe for increased efficiency through technology.

Delivering a great experience

Ultimately, to keep employees happy, organisations must employ a digital marketplace that is underpinned by self-service management – providing a comparable experience to those regularly offered to staff in their personal lives.

A study found that 45 per cent of millennials will likely quit a job where they experience sub-standard technology, and employee services form a massive part of how businesses interact with their own staff – from IT, to HR, to facilities, to finance, and beyond. Giving workers a great experience when accessing services isn’t just a nice perk but a necessity. Enterprises need to look at how they deliver both applications, software and services in the slick way that existing and new employees expect.

Patrick O'Connor

Director & General Manager at the DXC ServiceNow Practice

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