The New End-User Engagement Paradigm

 Author(s): , Posted on June 11th, 2012

The way organizations engage with their customers and employees has been undergoing a significant change over the last few years.  A perfect storm has been in the making. Social collaboration, context-sensitive computing, mobile devices, and new generation user interfaces have changed the way end users consume information. On the back end, industrialization of resources through large scale virtualization and cloud computing has provided the infrastructure support required allowing these front-end technologies to be successful. All of this has been empowering the enterprise end users beyond their wildest dreams, causing a shift of power and a shift of focus in the enterprise.

On this blog site, we have extensively covered the impact of these disruptive technologies on IT from endpoint device management, to social network monitoring, to management of the new hybrid enterprise delivery model. However, there is one more fundamental business change in this story. These individual technologies have just started to come together creating a new “End-User Engagement paradigm shift” for organizations. This is a major shift of approach in how organizations and their customers, employees, partners and the general public interact with each other and create and consume information.

Thanks to mobile access to information and self-service tools, consumers, employees, and the general public can now engage with organizations much more quickly and effectively both as individuals and in groups. Employees can build and join social communities of interest and share their thoughts and ideas with like-minded colleagues. We are now always connected to each other and to vast amounts of digital content. There is hardly a business left without a social customer community. Context-aware mobile applications can react to our location, preferences, habits, calendars, and the proximity of other devices and people. Smart analytics can detect our spending patterns and other activities. Most content is already digitized and it seems we are rapidly pushing it up to the “Cloud” for universal and continuous access. End-users are being liberated from device dependency, adopting multiple devices; using cloud-based content synchronization and demanding their daily workflow work seamlessly across all devices.

In the light of these developments, what should the applications of the future look like? How should we go about designing and architecting new solutions? Will quickly putting together a mobile app, screen scraping a legacy application, mobile-enabling a web site cut it? Or should this be seen in the lens of a more major shift – a change of style in “end-user engagement” that requires a better-coordinated, well thought-out plan of attack?

Once the sole face of IT, transactional back-end applications are being increasingly supported by these new user engagement technology layers.  As important as they still are, the backend applications and databases have moved into the fabric of ubiquitous hybrid cloud that works in the background. Once underestimated “client layer” is now rapidly moving from simple HTML pages to an increasingly important, multi-channel, multi-device experience for the end-user. End-user experience can not anymore be an afterthought or the last step in the design process. Organizations should start with the end-user experience in mind and think about how users will interact with their organization across multiple channels and devices. The end-user experience should be synched with the business approach, strategy, brand, and marketing. A common blueprint should be put in place for an overall user experience that is convenient, consistent, intuitive, natural, efficient, and cost effective.

Here are a few key recommendations for those organizations who want to adopt this new end-user engagement approach:

  • Understand your end-user’s expectations and their changing habits in the light of these converging new trends.
  • Start with business innovation. Identify new business functions, features, processes that will solve pain points across your organization.
  • Do not get caught up with individual, silo technology-focused projects. Focus on the holistic end-user experience. Provide seamless, integrated experience, leverage synergies between these new trends.
  • Keep an eye on the cost. Adopt self-service systems and leverage consumerization to your advantage.
  • Do not forget to identify organizational changes. Actively drive cultural transformation.
  • Focus on end-user satisfaction. It is the only driver for end-user adoption in this new world.
  • Put horizontal technology stacks in place which can be leveraged across multiple vertical domains. Most of these technologies require common infrastructure such as mobile device and app management platforms, cloud services and enterprise social computing systems.

This new end-user engagement model will be the new face of organizations. It will redefine the relationship organizations have with their employees, customers, partners and the public. It holds the  keys to business productivity, customer and employee loyalty, service satisfaction and organizational reputation.

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