The future of hybrid when your home printer runs out of ink
We recently met with CompuCom, an 8,000-person technology vendor providing hardware, software and services across the digital workplace, and discussed the company’s evolving role as the nature of how and where people work changes, especially for professionals inextricably linked to and dependent upon IT. To frame the discussion — and CompuCom’s place in the IT services ecosystem, which TBR’s Professional Services team tracks closely — one of the CompuCom executives asked, “What does hybrid work really mean going forward?” The question was particularly applied to professionals using home and personal technology for enterprise-level work. While everyone seems to be asking these questions and refining their answers based on pandemic-forced experiences, CompuCom has taken a broader view, suggesting employee experience (EX) is at the heart of the issue, rather than technology.
As described by CompuCom, employee experience fits within four dimensions: technology choice, self-sufficiency, well supported, and workplace flexibility. The first dimension is centered on technology that meets employees’ needs and “securely integrates personal technology” into the workplace ecosystem. Self-sufficiency is employees’ desire to be able to get their work done with minimal friction. And well supported and workplace flexibility most clearly align with hybrid work environments, with employees needing trusted technologies they can securely use anywhere, anytime. TBR has reported on other IT services vendors and consultancies shifting focus to the employee experience, particularly during the early months of the pandemic. This framework may not be new, but CompuCom has smartly articulated what many other vendors have been trying to provide, often with more offerings and less focus.
As small and midsize enterprises look to migrate to the cloud, the desire to take advantage of emerging technologies without investing heavily in IT staff may provide an opening for CompuCom to deliver its full end-to-end solutions, including hardware from trusted brands like Dell Technologies, without the higher-end services and support price tag. Delivering multivendor device support and addressing technology choice as a component of the employee experience will further resonate with SMB clients. Managing CompuCom’s ecosystem relationships while delivering value may depend on the second revelation from the company: experience-level agreements (XLAs).
The future of IT services when XLAs replace SLAs
Building on this framework, CompuCom has begun measuring its value to clients by the employee experience delivered, rather than standard service-level agreements (SLAs). The company has even developed persona-based, experience-level indicators (XLIs), recognizing that at any one client, CompuCom will be serving multiple persons. TBR will continue tracking CompuCom’s efforts to transition XLIs into XLAs as a widely accepted standard for replacing SLAs among its clients and the larger IT services ecosystem.
A second point about CompuCom’s approach struck TBR as noteworthy, especially as post-pandemic trends have pointed toward IT services vendors and consultancies rapidly expanding their offerings into areas such as engineering and legal services: CompuCom intends to stay in its own lane, deliver what it delivers well and grow through bringing technology to the workplace. That sounds unradical and almost boring. As one CompuCom executive said, “We’re focused on the workplace experience.” Having a clear focus and doing what you do well, in TBR’s experience analyzing IT services vendors and consultancies, have been key characteristics of solidly performing and growing companies.
According to TBR’s Digital Transformation: Voice of the Customer Research, in the early days of the pandemic enterprise buyers shifted priorities and budget spends from improving the customer experience (CX) to improving the employee experience by ensuring staff safety and productivity measures were in place. While the pendulum swung back a bit toward CX spend in early 2021, the shift toward everything hybrid will compel all parties, including employees, to seek and offer innovative ways to collaborate within the ecosystem, thus creating channels for robust EX and driving opportunities for companies such as CompuCom.
In the coming months, TBR intends to revisit CompuCom’s portfolio and performance in the context of the larger IT services and technology vendor landscape, particularly in relation to the U.S. market and digital transformation.