Employee involvement in tech strategy is key to avoiding a systems collapse

Clare Hopping

Monday 8 December 2014

The techspectations of today’s employees are often far more advanced than the equipment and service an employer can provide.

In today’s world of instant access to high-tech and great value technology, employees who find themselves blocked in doing their job will often find a way around the problem and sort it out for themselves, leading to a lack of central control and security concerns for employers in all areas of business.

Mike Anderson, CEO at Chelsea Apps Factory, comments: “The pace of change within businesses is more relentless than ever, and the fusion of technology and employee’s techspectations are two of the main drivers.

“Businesses of all shapes and sizes need to embrace mobilisation, harness technology and encourage their people’s power in this new tech-driven world. The rewards in doing so are huge – as are the dangers for those that don’t.”

Making sure employees have what they need

Keeping your data safe if you experience an equipment failure should be your main priority – ensuring you have the measures in place to get equipment and systems fixed in the event of a breakdown.

Gary Skeels, senior project manager at Danwood, pursues: “Problems with technology tend to come in two flavours. One is ‘it doesn’t work’ – and this relates to actual failures in the equipment or its supporting infrastructure.

“Clearly, a business needs to invest time in having the right support contract and service levels to deal with such outages. The other category, however – ‘it doesn’t do what I need to do my job’ – is more often the problem, and this is to do with poor stakeholder engagement.”

He believes the key to fulfilling employee needs is to carefully engage with all parties in the first instance.

“A typical customer engagement on an IT sale is either with a procurement professional or an IT professional. What often happens is that the engagement is with one or the other, but not both, and in neither scenario is the time invested in really understanding what users need and what the executive need from a business point of view,” Skeels explains.

He insists that only by fully understanding executive strategy, end user operations, IT infrastructure, support and commercials, and then building a solution around them, can requirements capture be considered to be done properly. When this has been done properly, it is far more likely that the end solution will be truly fit for purpose, that the contract around will really meet all stakeholder needs, and therefore that the types of issues that are raised will be minimised and more easily resolved.

Ensuring your service contract covers all equipment

The other thing to consider is a service contract that helps you maintain that equipment or services when they’ve been rolled out.

Chris Gabriel, chief technology officer at Logicalis, believes that, with the migration of employees in the office only using devices provided by the company, to using their own of devices everywhere for work, comes new challenges.

“We are seeing a major shift in thinking, as we see the biggest shift of all – IT departments becoming less worried about the physical equipment and more concerned over the perception of service delivery, quality and experience. The biggest challenge for IT is making the shift from being technology/equipment defined to being service defined,” he explains.

The network may never go down, a device may not fail, but the experience a user gets may degrade based on load, traffic types and times of day.

“Companies should stop worrying about defining the equipment and start learning how to define the service they want from it or because of it,” Gabriel continues. “A poor service is more irritating than a service that is down for a period of time. Businesses need to learn how to specify service experiences – and that’s much more contextual or nuanced to their environment than defining how a piece of equipment is specified to operate.”

Ensuring you’re covered 24/7

Even an experience-based contract will have a series of SLAs, so there is no getting away from that. The critical thing is to make sure you measure the supplier in the way the business will measure the service.

“Because the world is now 24/7, a contract that was nine-to-five weekdays only in a mobile enabled world may not be fit for purpose anymore, but don’t forget, users are helping themselves more and more, and while it is impossible to rely on that for service levels on core pieces of equipment and core services, the era of ‘self-service services’ is now becoming more prevalent,” Skeels concludes.

Building the next-gen data centre

Where traditional and web-scale apps co-exist