Blog Post

How can companies improve their employees’ digital experience?

Mark Towler, Director of Product Marketing, shares how companies can improve their employees’ digital experience.

In this bi-weekly micro webinar series, Catchpoint and ITOps Times have teamed up to discuss six critical topics that are essential for ensuring Internet Resilience for your business.

Explore each of the topics in the series:

1. Why should you care about Internet Resilience?

2. Introducing IPM: How does it help?

3. How can Internet Resilience help eCommerce players drive more revenue?

4. How can companies improve Network and API performance?

5. (This Post) How can companies improve their employees’ digital experience?

6. How can you improve conversions on your website?

In this 5th segment, we discuss how companies can improve their employees’ digital experience.

Now, let’s get into the episode!

How can companies improve Network and API performance?  

Watch the live Q&A with Mark Towler, Director of Product Marketing, or read the video transcript below.

Video Transcript

Jenna Barron

Hi everyone, and welcome to Episode Five of the ITOps Times Live Micro Webinar series on Internet Resilience. I’m Jenna Barron, news editor of SD Times. To catch up those who are joining us for the first time, in the first four episodes, we introduced and discussed why you should care about Internet Resilience, how Internet Resilience can help eCommerce, and how companies can improve network and API performance. All of these episodes are available on ITOpstimes.com in the webinars section of the Learning Center. Today we’ll be discussing how companies can improve their employees’ digital experiences with Mark Towler. He’s the Director of Product Marketing at Catchpoint, an observability platform provider focused on network and Internet reliability and availability. So, to kick things off, I’m curious what you think – obviously, work has changed from in-person offices to a hybrid or remote setting these days. How has that affected employee experiences?

Mark Towler

That’s an excellent question, Jennna, and it leads right into what I was going to bring up. It’s probably fair to say, and history will judge, but it’s fair to say that these shifts to hybrid or remote work are one of the biggest business changes since the Industrial Revolution, or if not, then certainly since the introduction of the concept of commuting.

We’ve had tastes of this for a long time. Back in the ’90s, in fact, I do recall that one of the big telcos was actually trying to save on office space by getting engineers to work from home once the Internet was just barely big enough and capable of supporting them. But it was always sort of ad hoc. You were lucky if you were able to work from home.

Then the pandemic hit, and everyone went home, and they did not come back. Despite some urging, they’re not coming back, and it’s become very clear over the last year and a half or so that hybrid work and predominantly remote work is the new normal. We know that when people have tried to bring people back to the office, they just do not come. They quit, they find other jobs.

Obviously, this is limited to certain sectors of the economy. Industries like restaurateurs, service, and trash pickup are not able to adopt remote work. However, anyone who works in technology, or any information-related job – they’ve gone home and determined that productivity remains the same, and everyone’s happier. They’re not commuting two hours a day. There have been changes and adjustments, and a big one is the infrastructure required to support this didn’t exist. We probably couldn’t have done this 20 years ago, which presents some interesting challenges.

I actually have a couple of slides if we can throw those up now. So the first one is that customers and employees are expect flawless digital experiences. We all know that there’s no patience anymore. If someone has to wait 10 seconds for a website to load, they will go to a competitor. So that’s customers.

Employees expect the exact same level of frictionless digital experience, and they won’t, on a whim, be able to turn around and go to a competitor. That is something that they might eventually do. In the meantime, productivity is down, they’re getting frustrated and everything’s not working as well. It’s suddenly become an issue because not everyone’s in the office. Not everyone is in a corporate location that is more tightly controlled. People are all over the world, and if they can’t get to the services and the tools and the online systems they need to, then they can’t work. Put it more simply, if they can’t connect, they can’t get anything done.

And that’s been recognized. That last slide actually was a Forrester sourced one. These are not simply our opinions, by the way. This is a third-party analyst’s opinion. IDC went and surveyed a number of IT organizations about the remote hybrid workplace, and the number one challenge they came up with was supporting remote workers. Number two is giving them access to the data they need and doing it consistently. So, this is obviously a major, major issue.

Mark Towler

So, what do we do about this? We’re in a situation where your employees aren’t in the office. Your IT team can’t just walk down the hallway and hit the caps lock button so the guy's password works. They’ve got to be able to remotely track these people. They’ve got to be able to remotely support them and it’s hard because they’re not even in the same time zone. Sometimes not even on the same continent.

The solution to this is some form of a workforce experience solution or application, and frankly, tooting our own horn – Catchpoint’s got a really good one. There’s a lot of tools that will tell you if Salesforce or Microsoft Teams is working. There are lot of other tools that will tell you whether a person’s laptop or desktop are working, or how much memory they’re consuming, even what their CPU usage is.

But there’s a whole Internet stack between those two areas. You’ve got your solutions, systems, networks, and employee’s devices. Between that, there’s Wi-Fi, routers, ISPs – any one of 100 different systems that you’re going through. This entire interconnected system is what we refer to as the Internet Stack. Most solutions can only monitor one end or the other, but Catchpoint is unique in its ability to monitor the entire Internet Stack hop by hop so we can diagnose every single issue.  

I’ll give you an example because we use this ourselves. We’ve had few situations where I’ve been on a Teams call and it’s spotty and it’s laggy and it’s not working, and one of the engineers in the call pulls up my information and says, “Oh you know Mark, I can see that your memory is fine, but your CPU is working really, really hard. Everything else between there is fine. Do you maybe have a few things open?” And I look at the 70 different tabs I’ve got open and go, “OK, I guess I could probably free up some memory and CPU usage,” which is fine.

In similar situations, we’ve got one customer, for example, that spent months literally trying to deal with one remote employee who had intermittent problems and they couldn’t figure out what it was. They installed our Workforce Experience agent on the employee’s laptop and within minutes – bear in mind this has been going on for months – and they’d been very carefully recording every single incident, every single problem. Within minutes, they were able to say, “Your CPU, laptop memory and Wi-Fi are fine, but your router is dropping packets constantly!” It was a router she got from her local ISP, and it hadn’t been changed four years. So, one quick call, one new router and bang, all the problems were solved.

We’ve heard similar stories from other customers. In fact, one of our customers described it as having the mechanic sitting in the car next to you. So, when it makes a funny noise, you don’t have to try and explain it to them, they can diagnose it and figure it out instantly.

Jenna Barron

Can you talk a little bit about how using one of these tools can help teams be more productive when they’re working in a distributed way?

Mark Towler

Absolutely. In fact, that’s the challenge, isn’t it? We’ve all had to shift from water cooler chats and everyone getting together for a big meeting, to having multiple daily zoom calls and things like that. A big part of it is making sure that everyone can connect. There’s going to be different social and business requirements and how people do things and when and where. Even something as simple as scheduling a regular morning meeting becomes a challenge when you have half of your team in different time zones, with some starting at four in the morning while others are at 5:00 PM. However, tools like Teams, with its instant chatting and online conferencing capabilities for multiple participants, work extremely well in such situations. Now they’ve suddenly become a core part of your business, and making sure they work is critical.

In the case of teams, that’s cloud based. So, you’re not even completely reliant on anything that’s under your own roof. That’s not your system, that’s not your product. You’re licensing it from someone else and you only have limited visibility into it. Unless of course, you have a system like Catchpoint that can go step by step all the way through. So, the advantage of this is it makes it very easy to determine not only what kind of problems your employees and your workforce are experiencing. It’s worth noting that the term “workforce” encompasses a wide range of individuals, including employees, partners, clients, and even volunteers in the case of nonprofits and other organizations. When any of these individuals face connectivity issues while trying to connect and collaborate, it directly impacts productivity.

A way to make that better is not only to provide tools like Teams and Zoom, various other bits and pieces that are going to be part of the modern office life, but also to help them self-serve. Like I said, the IT guy isn’t in the building. He can’t just walk over, look at your system, and try to diagnose it. He can still dial in, but you’ve got to set up an appointment and all of that with endpoints and workforce experience tools.

It’s very simple to set up automation. So, for example, I could be in a situation where I notice that my Teams system is running slow. Typically, for many issues, people would open a ticket to report it. However, if I experience minor issues like jitter or lag in one out of the five meetings I attend each day, I may not bother opening a ticket or reporting it. Instead, I would feel irritated, frustrated, and my productivity would decline.

On the other hand, if I can click on a button and be taken to a website that says, “Alright, Mark. Here’s your laptop. Here’s your computer. Here’s your CPU usage. Here’s the complete list of issues you’re facing.” There’s stuff I can fix. For example, it might tell me that the reason I’m having problems with Teams is because I have too many tabs open. The solution would be to shut some tabs or try rebooting my system, especially if it has been on for three weeks. That takes that completely out of it, I’m freed up to do other things.

Additionally, you do get the advantage of having a mass view. I can see all of my employees, all of my workforce, wherever they are in the world. The global aspect is really important. You do need some form of global observability network, which is something Catchpoint provides, in order to see everybody as opposed to being very North America centric. And if you can do that, you can then go, “Hold on. The people in Europe are having more trouble connecting – the people in Japan aren’t. What is the problem there? Why aren’t we able to support these people? Is it a problem with teams? A problem with us?” It makes it much easier to do mass diagnosis as opposed to playing whack-a-mole and trying to figure out which employees are able to connect and why not, and vice versa.

Jenna Barron

Awesome! That’s all the time we have for today. Thank you so much, Mark. We’ll be hosting another session on the 15th at the same time. We’ll be talking about how to improve website conversion, so join us for the next one.

Mark Towler

Thank you very much, Jenna. It was a pleasure to be here.

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