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Are Digital Experience Layers the Next Frontier?
Digital Transformation
Experience Layer

Are Digital Experience Layers the Next Frontier?

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5 minutes read time
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Published on Sep 23th, 2020
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Written by Janine Marchi

Evolution of the Digital Workplace

If you’ve ever watched one of those movies where someone tries to use cloning to get more work done, then you know that it’s an approach that never ends well. Chaos is inevitable, mistakes are made as less gets accomplished, and the big takeaway is always that more is never better.

That’s the big problem we’re facing with digital workplaces today – and digital experience layers might just be the solution.

“The digital workplace is the natural, ongoing evolution of the physical workplace. It includes all devises, software and platforms that workers use to complete their jobs and is comprised of such technology as core enterprise applications, communication and collaboration platforms, enterprise social media and virtual meeting tools.” - The Definitive Guide to the Employee Experience

The complexity of today's digital workplace

As companies are increasingly reducing their reliance on traditional monolithic systems and seeking out pointed SaaS applications designed to increase productivity and engagement, there’s a rapidly growing list of solutions to help them do just that. This abundance of choices is great. Organizations have lots of specialized options for tools that hold the promise of an improved employee experience for their workforce and they’re eagerly adopting them as a way to deliver the modern digital experiences employees expect.

Unfortunately, implementing a collection of disparate solutions has actually had the opposite effect, impacting productivity and engagement in some negative ways:

The digital workplace has become more complicated than ever before. And as a result, both productivity and the employee experience have taken a massive step backwards, despite the best technology and even better intentions.

So how did this all happen? Like most unintended consequences - quietly and when no one was paying attention.

While technology solutions have advanced to become more intelligent and sophisticated, the ways in which they’re selected and implemented have not. Organizations have continued to make all their tech decisions in silos, rolling out waves of individual applications without consideration for how all of those tools will interact and what impact they’ll have on user’s holistic experience. Because of that, employees are frustrated and distracted, with too many systems, too many places to find information, and too much communication coming at them from too many sources. As NYU Professor Clay Shirky describes it, they’re overwhelmed, suffering from “filter failure,” with no way to know what to focus on and no time for the meaningful work that’s the hallmark of a good employee experience.

The complexity of today's digital workplace is a constant strain on the digital employee experience.

Thankfully, there's a fairly simple way organizations can subdue this technological overload and get their employees (and their business) back on track.

A new approach - the digital experience layer

So what will it take for organizations to realign their technology approach to focus on employee needs and deliver a simple, seamless digital experience that also supports organization and departmental needs?

It's simple: the key to delivering employee-centered experiences through is through a digital experience layer.

Digital experience layers separate the user experience (UX) from underlying source systems, giving organizations the flexibility to control and design experiences that meet employees' need for a simpler experience by helping them fulfill their intent (i.e. accomplishing routine tasks with fewer clicks) - all while maintaining investments in the best-of-breed business applications that keep business running.

A good way to think of digital experience layers is like a digital assistant that integrates with all enterprise systems on behalf of employees, shielding them from the complexity and delivering just the seamless experience they expect.

At their core, digital experience layers provide employees with a centralized place to find the information they need and complete the routine tasks their jobs require. The resulting experiences for employees can be customized to meet the needs of the task at hand, anything from a chatbot that can automate IT service requests and consumer-grade apps that make it easier to access core systems to personalized, to contextual notification cards that make sure employees always have access to the right information at the right time. Digital experience layers also offer multichannel experiences, instantly modernizing legacy systems by making them available on mobile, even when the source applications themselves aren’t mobile.

Digital experience layers aren’t the generic, one-size-fits-all experiences that are so typical in the business environment. Instead they’re intelligent, which means that they take advantage of the vast amounts of employee data to deliver relevant and tailored tasks and information to each individual, much more in line with the benchmark experiences delivered by brands like Google, Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify that workers have come to expect.

What do digital experience layers look like for employees?

At Workgrid, we've designed a digital experience layer for employees that enables organizations of every size to provide a modern, streamlined experience for their workforce without having to replace existing technology. Employees get a simple, intuitive employee app that simplifies their work day and gives them access to just the tasks and information they need, ensuring that both the workforce, and the business, operate at the highest levels.

The Workgrid Assistant brings together information, communications, tasks, and notifications from across the enterprise into a unified experience for each employee that’s available via a mobile app, desktop application, or a web-tool bar that can be integrated within any intranet or employee portal.

Here are a few examples of what the employee user experience in Workgrid looks like

Mobile experience

  • Push notifications make sure critical communications are never missed

  • Tasks can be completed with the click of a button, without ever having to access the source system.

  • Important information like payslip details and time off blanaces are available at a glance.

  • Chatbot functionality is available 24/7 to provide instant answers to common questions.

Intranet experience

Workgrid makes it easy for employees to consume information and take action on important, often time sensitive tasks, right from the intranet.

  • Centrally located, giving employees a single command center for tasks and information.

  • To-Knows and To-Dos are prominently displayed so employees can quickly see what requires their attention.

  • Customizable alerts so employees only see what they wants and need to see.

  • Displays only timely information, with alerts automatically going away once they're no longer relevant.

Why it matters

The quality of the employee experience has always been a driving factor in business success:

In today's business environment, however, turned on it's ear by a global pandemic that has forever changed how work gets done, enabling workers to be effective so they can spend more time on what matters most to them will be critical to long-term success.

For organizations that have already heeded that call and are confident that their workforce is happy and operating at peak efficiency, congratulations! You’re one of the lucky – and smart – ones to have unlocked that puzzle. But for those businesses that can’t count themselves among that group, or aren’t sure, maybe now is the time to try something different. Experience layers could be the key to solving your digital workplace challenges.

To see how we’ve helped other organizations tackle this exact issue, check out this interview with our Head of Product, Troy Campano, explaining how a digital experience layer is key to supporting your digital workplace.

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