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Redefining DEX: Is user sentiment a requirement?

DEX technologies focus on ensuring users have the tools and high-performing technology they need. But is it a good idea to rely on user sentiment as a universal metric?

A while back, I wrote an article describing digital employee experience, or DEX, right after the concept was introduced to me. I described DEX as having three core tenets: monitoring, automated remediation and user sentiment.

Since then, I've had many conversations with vendors in and around DEX, and I've come to the realization that one feature is keeping some potentially viable platforms out of the discussion: user sentiment. Some vendors just don't have it, while others don't see the need from their customers. Regardless, there appears to be a growing -- and I think maybe valid -- perspective that it's not expressly needed to deliver DEX.

In addition to vendors, I've spoken at length with trusted industry experts and customers about this. While some believe the user sentiment can simply be another data point, there is concern that it can also introduce anomalous data or draw attention to minor or even irrelevant issues that they might not have noticed before.

For example, if the system sees performance metrics that are outside the ranges deemed acceptable and asks the user if they're experiencing issues, the concern is that the users will start looking for and finding issues -- even if they weren't having any. It's like going to a doctor who says, "Hmm, you're 50 now. Be on the lookout for joint pain." Of course, you're going to find joint pain after that.

What is DEX, then?

What does that mean for the definition of DEX? Especially since user sentiment has previously been a core tenet. Though it's evolving, I currently think of DEX as a set of capabilities or features that combines performance monitoring and analytics with machine learning to deliver automated detection and remediation of issues that affect end-user digital workspace experience, with the following priorities, in order:

  1. Before they affect the end user.
  2. Without involving the service desk.
  3. By empowering the service desk to resolve issues without involving Level 2 and Level 3 support.

User sentiment is an optional component of this, as is end user self-service, but to require user sentiment ignores technologies that meet the other requirements and can help organizations achieve their DEX goals.

The concern is that the users will start looking for and finding issues -- even if they weren't having any.

This is one of the topics I intend to dive into in upcoming research: What features are the most important in a DEX platform? Hopefully, it can help better define the boundaries of DEX compared to adjacent technologies -- such as employee experience -- that also have a user sentiment component, which likely contributes to some of the confusion between the terms.

It could be that the industry sees user sentiment as a critical component; but, if not, it makes sense to broaden the description to include more vendors that can compete and surface the features that really are important to organizations. I'm a huge believer in DEX as a concept -- I just want to make sure we're not eliminating perfectly good products before they're considered.

Gabe Knuth is the senior end-user computing analyst for TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group. He writes publicly for TechTarget in addition to his analyst work. If you'd like to reach out, see his profile on LinkedIn or send an email to [email protected].

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