Information technology (IT) has experienced significant development in recent years. The technology itself has become more sophisticated, certainly, but the end user’s relationship with IT has revealed considerable insights into how we work with IT products and how we interact with IT staff.We’ve found that appreciation for IT as a whole increased in 2020 and stabilized in 2021 – a reality brought forth by the pandemic and its impact on the workplace. But because of this extraordinary time, we looked further into the details to understand end users’ experiences with IT.
Data was collected from more than 500,000 end users who participated in surveys from 2018 to 2021. They worked for different companies and in different industries across the globe, providing a remarkably comprehensive set of insights. Their responses have illuminated our understanding of IT trends and developments, helping us create a formidable baseline of analysis. As is the case for all of our surveys, we focused on the positive and negative experiences for the end user. It’s integral to our double feedback loop model: What can we learn from projects and services that go well, and what can be done better?
Topics that elicited positive feedback.
We started with requesting feedback about what was going well. What compliments would they give IT? Of the possible topics provided, we found three that were consistently mentioned with praise: service desk performance, hardware (desktop or laptop), and remote access capabilities. These remain in the same spots every year, too, and they comprise over half of the responses. This alone reveals their ongoing significance to the end user. Also consistent is the information and communication they experience with IT, which remained static in its rank of positive satisfaction all four years in a row.
Looking more closely at the service desk, over two-thirds of end users are happy with their experience. Users remarked on their happiness with enthusiasm, and they have the people who work the service desk to thank. The personal touch, timeliness and communication they provide make a considerable difference. Some respondents even gave personal shout-outs to the staff who deserve compliments in a warm show of appreciation. It’s not just the service desk’s ability to solve problems, the data says – it’s that they do so quickly, effectively and with clear communication.
The remaining topics in relation to positive experience are less consistent. Satisfaction with email and calendar moved out of the top five topics as years progressed towards 2021. Similarly, satisfaction with office applications moved out of the top five in 2020 and dropped to the ninth spot in 2021. Does that mean end users’ positive satisfaction is waning, prompting these topics to become more challenging or problematic? Not exactly. These applications are so mature that people take them for granted – they have become commonplace and reliable.
What we can determine from this particular data is this: IT can make a difference with the right equipment, a responsive and capable service desk, and the ability to work flawlessly from any location.
Where end users want their needs met.
The areas where end users communicated a need for improvement are not as consistent as their positive counterparts – with the exception of their hardware. Each year, they flag desktop or laptops as the number-one topic that needs improvement. Beginning in 2020, hardware now includes tools that enable remote work possible, like headsets, monitors, screens and other accessories.
Service desk, too, volleys between the second and third rank of areas that need improvement. The data seems to contradict itself since these topics rank high in both positive and negative areas. But it actually reveals how important these two topics are for end users: If they have positive feedback with them, they experience general IT happiness, and if they have negative feedback, they are often very annoyed.
End users indicated collaboration and communication tools as a recent area that needs improvement. We see a considerable jump in 2020 from this topic being less commented upon to becoming the second-most cited area that needs improvement. This can easily be tied to the onset of the pandemic which prompted a swift change in productivity and workflow from in-person to remote.
The tools in question include Microsoft Teams, Google Hangout, Zoom, Slack, and other virtual communication platforms. End users lacked training and processes on how to utilize them in the best possible way. For this reason, it’s no surprise that IT training also ranked as a topic that needs improvement. Even further, these tools elicited a certain degree of stress for the end user. Why? It introduced the presence of multi-channel communication. People became available via landlines, mobile phones, Teams and email at the same time – what’s the best way to reach someone with all these options? What’s suitable for email versus Teams? What requires a phone call? Is video necessary? These small questions add up to a stressful experience when navigating such platforms.
We also notice a shift towards the changed perception of the service desk. Beginning in 2020 and 2021, more end users referenced online portals in relation to the service desk. This can be attributed to the rising need of IT self-service – something that end users seem to either love or hate. An abundance of tools and applications, combined with remote or hybrid work, shows that end users are asking for more support from IT.
From the service desk’s perspective, there are nuances as well. Companies are diversifying in terms of their staff’s languages and cultures – even the companies that are not traditionally organized as global corporations. Service desk staff experience a unique challenge in finding the most efficient way to help many different people with many different requirements. How can they do so while providing the “human touch” that works so well for end users? It’s a trend that can’t be overlooked. IT users prefer to be helped by real people and preferably people they know or feel comfortable with. The data shows a gap that needs to be bridged.
The data in “the big picture.”
When we consider IT from a decade ago, we see a shift in priorities and needs. End users are moving away from prioritizing technical availability, equipment quality, stable office applications and a responsive service desk towards optimizing IT services and solutions that enable them to do their jobs in the best possible way. That includes being productive and being able to collaborate with colleagues, suppliers and clients alike. It also includes having the means to understand different people and their different needs.
For these reasons, IT organizations are evolving to function more as companies. They utilize sales, marketing and communication principles which enable them to deliver the right products to the right target audience with the right level of support.