Why Visibility Across Your IT Estate Will Make or Break Your Digital Workplace Strategy

Industry experts discuss employee productivity, transformation planning, and managing changes across digital workplaces

At Lakeside Software, we love any and every opportunity to have what we call “Lakeside Chats,” an ongoing thought leadership webinar series, with our customers. Steve Kennedy, head of end-user services at Clifford Chance, recently joined our Chief Technology Officer Elise Carmichael for the webinar “Employee Productivity in the Age of Digital Workplaces” to discuss the impact of digital employee experience (DEX) on productivity; the importance of creating a readiness plan for digital transformation projects; and the role of data in empowering IT to manage constant changes across the digital workplace.

As one of the largest law firms in the world with 574 partners in 32 offices in 21 countries, Clifford Chance has a mature strategy for enabling and prioritizing digital employee experience. Kennedy has been driving that strategy for nearly eight years, leading the charge of delivering end-user technologies by leveraging cloud and application virtualization technologies. His motto? “Any application, any device, anywhere, anytime.”

Given that 90% of organizations are embracing the hybrid workplace model, many enterprises have had no choice but to find a proven way to support this “Any x 4” approach. What is that proven way, according to Kennedy? Gaining complete visibility across the IT estate.

You see, when everyone started working from home, IT lost visibility for troubleshooting whenever an employee opened an IT service ticket. Without complete visibility, as Carmichael noted during the webinar, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Fortunately, “With metrics, you can see what’s happening within the environment and can make intelligent decisions.”

A picture made from endpoint telemetry data can speak a thousand words for any business. From Kennedy’s perspective, that big picture in real time, made possible by the Lakeside SysTrack platform, enables three compelling business-centric capabilities:

  • Shifting from a reactive IT stance to a proactive one in order to ensure that the organization’s digital employee experience is a good one;
  • Rolling out digital transformation projects without a hitch; and
  • Managing frequent changes across the IT environment.

Let’s take a closer look at the three reasons why complete visibility across the IT estate will make or break your digital workplace strategy.

1. Adopting a Proactive IT Strategy to Boost DEX

“It’s an IT person’s never-ending challenge to see something before it happens,” Kennedy explained. Long gone is the IT mindset of “if it’s not broken, don’t touch it,” as Carmichael also pointed out in a recent Forbes Technology Council article.

Kennedy relies on data insights from the Lakeside SysTrack platform to enable proactive IT. He noted that, “There isn’t a magic tool that fixes everything, but with the insights we get from SysTrack, we can go some way to getting there.”

For Kennedy, it’s been a long journey using SysTrack. Although proactive IT leads to a reduction in IT tickets, the main outcome for the firm is minimizing IT’s impact on employees’ time and ability to do their jobs. SysTrack gives Kennedy and his team data on issues such as how CPU or memory utilization, for example, are affecting a user’s time. The goal is to use SysTrack’s “information right at our fingertips in real time” to prevent employees from facing costly downtime and/or becoming frustrated with their workplace technologies. “By using SysTrack, we are able to fairly quickly ascertain specific problems, as we have metrics to easily see very quickly whether and where there is an issue.”

If something does go wrong, just one ticket can fuel a proactive response across the organization. “If one person opens an IT ticket,” Carmichael explained, “you can use SysTrack data to see if that problem is affecting others and resolve it before there is an impact on other users.” Enabling Lakeside customers to shift from reactive to proactive IT is really about “IT getting out of the way of employees’ ability to be productive at their jobs and stave off becoming frustrated when their devices or apps aren’t working properly,” according to Carmichael. “That’s what DEX means to me.”

Boosting the digital employee experience can track directly to business outcomes. According to Kennedy, what started as an investment for a very specific use case has evolved. “Over the last year, we feel that SysTrack is best for our entire environment, as we can empower employees to work efficiently.” After all, as Lakeside’s VP of Solutions Engineering Geoff Hixon recently wrote, “Every digital workplace strategy must start with the end user – as delivered by IT.” Making sure you have complete visibility is the first step in this employee-centric plan.

2. Deploying Digital Transformation Projects Successfully

As Accenture defines it: “Digital transformation is the process by which companies embed technologies across their businesses to drive fundamental change.” There is no one-size-fits-all for many projects, such as rolling out a new OS (e.g., Windows 11) or converging systems after a merger and acquisition. As such, having ongoing visibility about the deployment’s impact on the user is imperative.

Kennedy currently is embarking on a major cloud migration project — not only from an ESG perspective of trying to reduce his firm’s own data center footprint but also from an application point of view. He was happy to have SysTrack on his side for this major transformation effort. “Very quickly we can see the performance of devices when we put a new OS on those devices and get ahead of the game, and we can understand the use of applications on these platforms to determine the right number of user licenses needed.”

This visibility of SaaS “try before you buy” scenarios allows enterprises to rationalize software objectively using hard metrics, in turn realizing cost savings by eliminating software bloat and reliance on best guesses to questions such as “Do we need to buy new hardware for that new OS? Will the hardware work for all users or do some roles need higher power in their devices? Kennedy pointed out that, “Those sorts of questions are answered by the data.”

He explained that “If we have this visibility across the whole IT estate, we can potentially save ourselves a huge amount of money. We use SysTrack Assist every time we move forward, because it helps us make those informed decisions. We can see the performance of our old machines against the new machines.”

Carmichael chimed in that, “There is almost a limitless number of use cases with SysTrack and digital transformation projects.” Right now, for instance, Windows 11 readiness plans are a big use case. How can you use SysTrack to ease the pain of any huge project? You can roll out a new system (such as Windows 11) by groups so you can monitor the impact group by group. That way, you can make sure the last group for the deployment is your enterprise’s most mission-critical one (such as employees on the trading floor), “where every second that something doesn’t work has a huge impact,” said Carmichael.

3. Managing Dynamic IT Environments

Not all changes are such monolithic ones, however. Facing ever-changing IT environments that constantly require patches and software updates, enterprises often don’t have a runway for planning, testing, and assessing the impact before rolling out a patch or update on a large scale. Kennedy put this challenge in perspective: “Now, there just isn’t the luxury of time with changes that require action every few weeks or so.” He added that, “We really need to look at how we can understand and address the impact of those changes very quickly in a changing, dynamic environment.”

With so many releases, patches, and software updates all the time, there are so many variables. Being able to get that data in real time and to monitor across all those different variables and see whether updates or other changes are affecting users is critical.

“We have SysTrack to quantify changes very, very quickly on an iterative process,” Kennedy noted. “We can look at proactive insights from the SysTrack data to be able to make informed decisions about systems, applications, and patches and to understand how changes affect the behavior of the device, using that information to gain insight about any impacts on our users.”

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