Intelligent personalization: The holy grail of hybrid workplace success
With the hybrid work model becoming the new normal in the post-pandemic world, organizations are fast realizing that end users today just can’t thrive well in highly standardized environments. End users expect their experience as an employee at work to go as smoothly as their experience as a consumer outside work. Employees spend most of their time as consumers, interacting with the likes of Uber, Amazon, and Netflix. They expect a similar quality of personalized experience in the workspace as well. Standardization is no longer an option that companies have while planning and building hybrid workplace. Thanks to the pervasive use of technology in nearly every aspect of business, all jobs require some level of technology literacy.
Today, employees from the C-suite to the front line workers rely on machine learning, collaboration tools, and cloud-based applications to go about their quotidian tasks. For large organizations with a huge headcount, catering to a wide range of dynamic users would require IT solution providers to think and segment their needs. In this process, not only would they examine their functions, but also holistically assess the requirement of their dynamic roles. Such an exercise usually results in the creation of a persona, which can be used as a blueprint to guide technology-related investments within the organization.
Why workplace personas are indispensable
To realize the importance of user profiling, we need to examine the problems from the perspectives of the business, the user, and the IT department. Businesses are concerned with increasing user productivity, finding the most efficient way to deploy capital, and building an internal playbook to deal with the disruptive waves of consumerization, automation, mobility, and collaboration. End users want more freedom and empowerment, automation, and flexibility in the way they use their digital tools, and increased satisfaction with their work.
The IT department, which maintains the technological backbone of any organization, operates from a place of heavy information asymmetry. They lack the information on the distribution of user profiles, nor do they have the tools to gauge workplace satisfaction. They are perpetually seeking ways to increase workplace security and compliance without disrupting the user experience, but they almost always default to a modus operandi that was built for an analog workplace. Workplace personas are a way to build a strong employee experience and foster a vibrant company culture. When done right, it can translate to solid financial performance. KPMG found that companies that had a strong employee experience made four times the profit of their counterparts that did not.
The persona puzzle
Within a digital workplace, creating an end-user persona can prove to be a difficult affair due to the proliferation of organizational silos.It is difficult for an IT specialist to truly understand how a project manager interacts with various systems, processes and other personas, as they tend to be far removed from that function. This perceived knowledge gap plays out over multiple environments and is only compounded in the case of large organizations.
Another common pitfall while creating an employee persona is relying on ostensible information such as age, gender, location, device etc. It's not enough considering today’s dynamic workplace. An employee’s motivations, frustrations, and attitude towards their work, are all very critical pieces of information to build successful personalized services. It’s not so much about who the employee is or what they tell you, but rather what they do. Also, the personas are no longer static, they are dynamic and traits need to be tracked in real-time.
The other issue with creating IT end-user personas comes down to communication. Given the abstract nature of such a persona, it is not one-size-fits-all too. Whether the end-user is changing roles, or merely changing habits, they potentially move from one segment to another. Therefore, organizations must contextualize the data points, map the persona journey from onboarding to offboarding and construct meaningful personas to solve real-world problems.
Creating personas that help solve real IT problems
The process of building an IT end-user persona should begin with a clearly defined goal, that makes business sense. It has to do at least one of the following: increase user productivity, reduce costs, and improve overall profitability. In the digital workplace, this has to start with a thorough understanding of the end-users across several categories, namely: data requirements, levels of access, contact channels, IT service management workflows, hardware requirements, technology usage, user engagement, and call patterns. All of these collectively with the right contextualization of all these data points define the scope of the profile, which can then be used to create personas around a specific business objective. Knowing the different kinds of personas and the needs of each of those types of personas, it would then be easier to provide personalized and contextual support. For instance, IT will be able to see how a sales representative in the field interacts with certain technologies compared to a director of sales in the office. These insights enable IT to make more informed long-term decisions regarding spending and technology deployment.
Additionally now with personas, IT can tailor their messaging and the resources they provide to each segment of their end users. With proper segmentation, employees no longer have to wade through irrelevant messages that don’t apply to their roles and responsibilities. This will not only help in boosting employee productivity but also foster a healthier relationship between IT and employees.
Armed with the knowledge of user segments, as well as requirements, the business will have the most comprehensive understanding of how every kind of employee behaves — and what they each need to be successful. Hence we have built a comprehensive solution to build user personas – Profile Kaleidoscope. It is a data-driven digital consulting exercise that considers 1000+ data points and attributes such as end-user business criticality, mobility, and workplace behaviour. It identifies their needs and classifies them into meaningful dynamic personas that are monitored across their lifetime in the organization using powerful dashboards and recombines to come up with custom personas for specific initiatives. We consult our customers across various strategic, technology, and business initiatives. This includes cloud office, managed mobility, virtualization, and AR/VR etc to deliver superior, personalized digital employee experience, efficiently, while managing cost.