Employee experience is today’s single biggest indicator of business success. Gallup says that companies with engaged employees are 21% more productive than those without. However, McKinsey Global Institute, they are spending the equivalent of one full workday each week simply searching systems and hunting down information, plus they often face many manual repetitive tasks. Is there a way to leverage technology without it causing a drag on your employees?
On this episode of The Disruptive Enterprise Podcast, host Gregory J. Turner, CRO/CIO at MTM Technologies, and his guest Ray Wolf, founding member and managing partner of A2K Partners, discuss how Citrix Workspace with Intelligence enables you to make your employees’ days much more efficient.
Improving Employee Experience and Performance with Citrix Workspace with Intelligence
Gregory J. Turner, CRO/CIO at MTM Technologies & Ray Wolf, founding member and managing partner of A2K Partners
Gregory Turner: Welcome to our continuing podcast series at The Disruptive Enterprise. In previous podcasts and articles on our website, we have discussed customer experience and expectations. Citrix Managed Services and Cyber Security, all these things are important to running your business. However, one of the most critical steps any organization can take is improving the employee experience. Today, we’re going to explore how Citrix Workspace with intelligence can improve the employee experience and increase overall business performance.
Gregory Turner: According to researchers, employee experience is today’s single biggest indicator of business success. A workforce study from Towers Watson indicates that these engaged employees can maintain operating margins three times higher than competitors. Given the results, what is holding companies back from improving the employee experience?
Gregory Turner: Unfortunately, it may be the very technology we are all trying to implement for business success that is causing a drag on our employees. Today’s workers are dealing with what appears to be an endless stream of apps and logins. According to McKinsey Global Institute, they are spending the equivalent of one full workday each week simply searching systems and hunting down information, plus they often face many manual repetitive tasks.
Gregory Turner: Today, on the podcast to discuss these issues with me, I’m pleased to be joined by Ray Wolf, Managing Partner of A2K Partners, a Citrix partner offering consulting and implementation services for Citrix Workspace with intelligence. Ray is a founding member and managing partner of A2K Partners. He is the former co-founder of Social Determinant Labs, the former CEO of Active Cyber and Green Integrated Services.
Gregory Turner: Ray is a thought leader on employee engagement and brings three decades of global business experience across a range of industries, as well as different growth stages from startup to established enterprise. Ray’s success across multiple business segments can be attributed to his strengths in building human capital strategies, developing a culture of innovation, and demystifying the complexity into actionable elements. We are thrilled to have him here today and help us tackle this disruptive phenomenon. Welcome to The Disruptive Enterprise, Ray.
Ray Wolf: Greg, thank you. It’s awesome to be here. And this is a terrific topic to be talking about. We are now realizing some major improvements and employee experience. And there are a number of organizations that are readily embracing it and experiencing productivity and profitability improvements.
Gregory Turner: We’re excited to talk about it. We do see this as a way to address some of the disruption in your marketplace, in your business. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, Ray, can you tell me what you think of when you hear the words employee engagement?
Ray Wolf: Well, first, if we step back, if you’re running a business, one of your biggest investments is really around people, and I like to use the term human capital. And if you think about it from an ROI equation, there’s the denominator, which is essentially the cost for having these employees on board. And that’s pretty much the same. What we found is chasing the lowest cost isn’t the most effective. But if you look at the numerator, what you get out of the employees, that’s really where the big benefits could be gained.
Ray Wolf: So, 10% improvement on the numerator of that equation really translates into some big things in your organization. So, when we think about employee experience, there are three major elements of that. One is the physical workspace in the environment that they live in. And more often today, we’re finding that people are remote workers, they’re nomadic. And in sometimes, they’re not even employees of the company, they’re gig workers or temporary workers or contractors.
Ray Wolf: And then, we have the culture of the company, which could be an entire separate podcast. And then, we have the technology and the tools that we’re providing to all these workers and all our resources to get work done. And I think as we start to think about Citrix and Workspace with intelligence, the place where it’s going to have the biggest impact is really around, how do we leverage the technology that we’re providing to our workers to get stuff done?
Gregory Turner: Excellent. No, thank you. And thank you for defining it that way. So, maybe you can tell us a little bit more about what is Citrix workplace with intelligence? A number of our listeners know about Citrix, but can you give us some more information about Citrix workplace with intelligence and what it provides to an organization and maybe how it begins to address this employee experience or employee engagement?
Ray Wolf: Yeah, let me first talk about it just on a technology level and then, we’ll get into the business impact in the solution. So, Citrix Workspace with intelligence takes advantage of the latest generation of micro-service capability and architecture. And you see many companies out there starting to engage and leverage the interfaces that exist with the applications that our employees are having to use. There are well-known companies like Okta, they’re using it for security.
Ray Wolf: Now, Citrix is using similar technology to make the employee’s day much more efficient. And to tell you a little bit more about it is the challenge is every application we keep adding to the environment. We look at it and we’re thinking it’s automation, but in fact, we’re starting to get application sprawl. The average employee is looking at about nine to 15 different applications that they have to go into either on a regular basis or infrequent basis to get stuff done.
Ray Wolf: And now, with all these applications, one, we have the challenge of training and getting them up to speed, remembering where stuff is and how to move it along from a workflow perspective. And it’s just getting more and more challenging. In reality, it’s really becoming a very noisy workplace with a lot of distractions. And we compare that to our consumer life, where today, we can just about run our lives on a mobile device.
Ray Wolf: Everything seems to integrate. We get notifications in one spot. We’re at our kid’s soccer game or at lunch and we can execute, but we just don’t have that from an employee perspective. So, what Citrix is doing is essentially closing that gap. They’re bringing a modern mobile experience to the workplace for efficiency, productivity. And in the end, you end up with happier employees, more engaged, and the productivity numbers are there to show it.
Gregory Turner: That’s really interesting. And I think you’re absolutely right with all the technology and innovation and all the various apps. And whether it be workplace apps or phone apps or whatever it may be, we have this technology sprawl that’s really taken over the work space. And that’s, I think, very true in trying to bring back the productivity. How difficult is it to implement and adopt a Citrix workplace with intelligence?
Ray Wolf: This is an area that, Greg, we’ve been learning quite a bit. We’ve been implementing this technology that Citrix is developing for about the last two-and-a-half years for Citrix and about six years with other ISPs. And there’s an approach where you can get rapid time to value. The model that we subscribe to is essentially within four weeks, we’re trying to get employers up to speed with Workspace, doing three to five things that are critically important to the organization. And then, monthly thereafter, we add about two or four more workflows.
Ray Wolf: And you can think of a workflow as in terms of things people want to get done. You just keep adding to it and you’re making it more efficient. So, after about a year, you end up with about 24 workflows, which have made the environment much more productive for the employee, but the key here is to start out with a critical few where there’s a high level in noise, possibly a legacy application that has no mobile experience and a poor workflow. And you actually bring some relief to those pain points initially and then, get their buy-in.
Gregory Turner: And in terms of the technology layer, is Citrix workplace with intelligence something that sits on top of a traditional Citrix solution, XenApp, and XenDesktop environment?
Ray Wolf: The way it’s designed is you can actually deploy it independent or in an integrated fashion. So, there are options to do both. We’re currently working with existing Citrix customers and we do that in an integrated fashion. It works very well with their virtual applications. However, entirely new customers to Citrix or starting with or just working with the Workspace with intelligence and then, evaluating whether there’s other products in the Citrix portfolio that make sense for them, either way, you’re getting tremendous efficiency. You’re getting the security that you get out of Citrix, as well as the reliability of ability to get in and work remotely in all these applications.
Gregory Turner: With all different devices.
Ray Wolf: With all different devices. I think that’s probably the most important point, is we’re seeing with our clients, is they are designing for their employees around the employee experience. It’s truly a mobile experience. Looking to get everything they need to get done during the day on their tablets or on their cellphone. And the browser and the desktop is becoming secondarily. I didn’t think I would see that in my lifetime, but the shift is happening pretty quick.
Gregory Turner: Maybe, just to help our listeners, if we could talk about some examples or use cases where this was a problem in this workflow and through Citrix workplace with intelligence, here’s how it can be resolved.
Ray Wolf: One of the personas inside of companies that is ubiquitous across all verticals happens to be sales. So, if you think of anybody who’s quota carrying inside or outside front line management, leadership, they’re all so close as to driving pipeline and driving revenue, this is one that we’re seeing and getting a lot of traction. And there could be systems of record. I’ll introduce that term in lieu of an application. But if you think of a CRM, could be Salesforce or Pipedrive or SugarCRM, everybody has access to that and there’s so many things you could do inside those systems.
Ray Wolf: So, when today, in the current environment, when you provision and provide access to the CRM, you’re basically saying Mr. Salesperson, you have the ability to do anything and everything in here. You can search on customers, you can enter information and generate reports. Well, that’s interesting, but that isn’t the most efficient way to use that technology. There are typically two or three things that a sales individual needs to do on a regular basis.
Ray Wolf: Generally, it’s converting leads to opportunities, which is something that we’ve been doing for some of the clients and actually working with Citrix internally for their own use. And then, we also see that they want to get notified on any customer that hasn’t had a change in their status in the last two weeks. They want to get a notification on to their desktop, so they can take action. And then, the third is, generally, they want to get notified, particularly, if you’re a sales leader, if there is a close win or close loss or qualified deal of a certain type.
Ray Wolf: So, these are some very tangible use cases that are coming up. One in particular that I’ll transition over, a beta client of this product we’ve been working with for the last year-and-a-half, a Fortune 500 company. And as we started to look through and we identified possible workflows to improve, there was one that was put on the list, didn’t really initially think of it being that impactful, but it happened to be automating non-standard work orders.
Ray Wolf: And a non-standard work order was just defined as something that didn’t have a skew, didn’t fit into the system for ordering. However, that happened about 25% of the time for this particular client. Well, what we discovered was the sales team didn’t know where to get the non-standard work order form. And then, once they sent it to the client, they didn’t know where to route it internally to get it approved and forward to get processed.
Ray Wolf: So, we automated that with Citrix with Workspace with intelligence and we took a process that took roughly six weeks to accomplish down to less than six days. And as a result, the client was able to realize about 5 more million dollars a month in cash flow. So, it was pretty amazing for us. And it has led us to think differently about this and say how many non-standard items are sitting in SharePoint or ShareFile or Box or Dropbox that people have to use every day that we could help them move forward and make them more productive.
Gregory Turner: So, it’s not just the implementation of technology, but it’s really an implementation of an improvement to your whole business process. And I find, with the real focus on business outcomes today from our all of our clients, that that seems to be a real value add in the marketplace that you don’t often see from technology solutions.
Ray Wolf: Yes. As a matter of fact, I’ve been in the services businesses for a couple of decades and the key here is translating technology into why people care, which really means into business value. Technology and the specific technology to some extent isn’t really the answer, is how do you design that so people can get benefit out of it? And this is probably the best example that I have seen where you can immediately translate it into benefit. Again, literally, in four weeks, you can improve the employee experience and people will comment that their life is better, they’re able to get stuff done.
Gregory Turner: Yeah. And I think one of the key points that I’ve heard today, Ray, is you don’t necessarily need to have a Citrix environment and investment today, that you can look at this fresh with Citrix Workspace with intelligence. If you already have the existing infrastructure, great, we can still make dramatic improvement in your business process and drive some more outcomes. So, I think that’s really interesting. And maybe, that’s a little bit of nugget of information that it’s new to me, so I’m guessing there may be some new news to our listeners.
Gregory Turner: So, I really appreciate you sharing that with us. One of the things that I think a lot of our listeners think about is, is this for me? This solution that they’re talking about, does this apply to my business? And I know that you have identified sort of the low-hanging fruit of where this might make perfect sense for organizations. Maybe you could walk us through that and what people should be thinking about in terms of, do they have a situation that might be ripe for Citrix Workspace with intelligence?
Ray Wolf: Happy to do that, Greg. The first one and it’s turning out to be the largest place, where the benefit can be realized is if companies have a legacy application that they have no plans on replacing and updating that had a poor mobile experience or a poor browser experience. And with the rate that technology has moved, I mean, this may have only been implemented four years ago, six years ago. Mobile-to-mobile experiences has move forward so much faster.
Ray Wolf: So, great place to get started is to look at that. What is it that I’m trying to get done that I can’t do? A recent example that we had is with a customer, they have a deals desk and they were getting notifications of exceptions. Internally, what they wanted to do was there was a lower-margin deal that they needed to approve, but they couldn’t do it on their phone. And so, it went slow, deals took longer to actually close. They had to go back to their desktop, log into a system. So, legacy applications, poor mobile experience, any place there’s high employee frustration.
Ray Wolf: So, there’s a lot of things that we’re asking our employees to do, but really, at the end of the day, there’s probably three things that really matter and everything else is secondary. So, we want to get them to focus on that. And if we asked them the simple question around those critical three things that you have to get done every day, that people are looking at you from a performance perspective, what is inhibiting you from getting that done? What noise exists? What technology disadvantages and challenges? What’s troublesome from the workflow? And that’s a great place.
Ray Wolf: Citrix Workspace with intelligence also integrates with all the latest fourth generation SAS products. And we know some of their names, such as Workday, for example, ServiceNow. Well, those are great applications and they bring a lot of value, but Citrix on top of ServiceNow and on top of Workday even bring additional advantages. The first place that shows up is really in exception handling in errors. As much as we have automated with those systems, not everything fits neatly into those.
Ray Wolf: So, Workspace can handle those and then, move the workflow along. We like to use an analogy, if you think about it, I’m sure most people listening to the this podcast, they have somewhere between 50 and 200 emails in their inbox unopened at any point in time. And when a notification from one of these other systems be at Workday or ServiceNow ends up being 199, it takes some time before it gets there. And the Workspace with intelligence gives you the ability to surface that, if it’s critical, so you can address it immediately and keep things moving along.
Ray Wolf: Like the example I used earlier about the non-standard work orders, any static files that are sitting in some collaboration tool—and if you think about the employee world, “If I need to go and create a form, I do it in Word, I do it in Excel, and I save that and I use it over and over again”, and what we see is over 60% of the documents that people use on a regular basis are not in an automated next-generation SAS. They’re essentially sitting in one of those forms. So, we’re able to help them identify where it is, streamline the workflow so that we can reduce the cycle time.
Ray Wolf: And if it’s tied to revenue in particular, I mean, that’s a financial benefit that comes out. The next one happens to be things that you want to get visibility for. A couple of people have told me that are not directly related to sales but are in the product management side and in the operations, they said, “I would love to know when something went into the system that was over a certain dollar amount”, a hundred thousand, a million dollars, but they’re not going to go log into the CRM system. It’s not convenient. They don’t understand how to navigate it.
Ray Wolf: So, if we give them a notification that let them know, it’s like, “Hey, listen, Ray just entered a new opportunity in the pipeline that’s over a million dollars.” This way, it’s on their radar. They can start to think about what’s going to happen from a fulfillment perspective. The other opportunity that’s developing here, a low-hanging fruit, there’s a term called Zero Trust that’s being implemented around corporations for security. Well, Zero Trust is interesting, because it starts with a zero baseline and only provides access to what people need for their everyday job.
Ray Wolf: Well, today, most of the security tools provision an application to someone so that Ray Wolf, the sales person, might get access to CRM or to a financial system. However, you really didn’t intend for me to see everything in that system. You only wanted me to see the two or three things I needed to touch. Well, you could use Workspace to lock that down. And then, lastly, one that is becoming a growing issue that it improves is really around data hygiene.
Ray Wolf: Rather than having people go into the system of record and enter data into the 20 fields that it gives you ability to enter data, you’re going to give them the ability to just enter data of the three fields that are important. You’re going to be able to check that and make sure that you have data hygiene so that the quality of data that’s going into your systems and records that you’re using for your business intelligence and making decisions about what you do next really have a high degree of fidelity.
Gregory Turner: Well, that’s awesome. These examples and areas of interest and concern for an organization, addressing these things is really process workflow on steroids. And you can really begin to see how these, from very minor adjustments, you can really make some dramatic improvements to their business and operations and visibility of information. I like especially the one you mentioned about, “Hey, I don’t need to know everything, but when you got a million-dollar deal or you got a million-dollar delta in anything that we’re doing, that would be good to know about.”
Ray Wolf: Yeah, exactly. And we’re discovering new uses all the time, all that’s coming up. We’re currently working a couple opportunities in aerospace and in health care. And you think about it, people are the common denominator and people are trying to get stuff done. Most interesting, where we are getting early traction with opportunities and where customers are adopting it the quickest, is really around business-line owners who have P&Ls and they’re tasked with doing something new and scaling up without additional resources. So, where do you get the bandwidth to go do that?
Ray Wolf: And you just absolutely need to bring some automation, free up those survival and functional tasks, automate them, obsolete them, or delegate them so that employees have bandwidth to go work on something that’s more transformational for the organization. The value proposition in the end of the day for Workspace with intelligence is you are going to get one day a week back or 20% productivity enhancement so that you can focus on things that are important to keep the company growing and disrupting the marketplace as opposed to having to react to disruption.
Gregory Turner: That’s right. That’s right. And I think that’s really a great summary of this solution, is how it really can help you both in being a disruptor, but also, to respond to disruption. And that’s really the interest that we had in this solution, and which is why we were really excited to have you here today, Ray. One last question. In terms of an organization, would it help if the organization is working with process engineering specialists, like Six Sigma or lean manufacturing or some notion like that to assist in the analysis of these activities?
Ray Wolf: I think having a company with that kind of mindset, kind of even the kaizen or lean manufacturing mindset, this fits hand-in-glove with that. This is the technology that will be the multiplier for that mindset and what you’re already trying to do in the organization.
Gregory Turner: Excellent. Excellent. Ray, is there anything else we should have covered about Citrix Workspace with intelligence or employee engagement that I forgot to ask?
Ray Wolf: I think the one thing that people should keep in mind, this is fourth-generation SAS technology. It is easy to implement, quick to get value, and easy to maintain. So, I really would encourage anybody who is starting to explore in this area, spending time on employee experience that they take a sip and try this out with a couple of applications in workflow. And then, once they realize the benefit, then they can expand from there.
Ray Wolf: And then, lastly, I know we’ve talked about employee experience here, but this is really the secret sauce to having an awesome customer experience. And I don’t know a situation where you can skip around your employees to get to the customer. So, if you want an exceptional customer experience, you have to have an exceptional employee experience, and all the more reason to invest in this technology.
Gregory Turner: Excellent, solid point, Ray. Thank you very much. This has been truly educational and amazing. And thank you to our audience for listening. I hope you found this podcast helpful. For any questions, comments, or feedback, please feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about us, visit our website, mtm.com. For Ray Wolf and the folks at The Disruptive Enterprise, this is Greg Turner. And thank you.
Outro: The Disruptive Enterprise is brought to you by MTM Technologies, a disruption solutions provider operating in the US with technical expertise and IT experience, working with clients as a trusted adviser for over 30 years.