In the beginning, making sure everyone in a meeting was comfortable was easy. All an agency had to do was provide attendees with good chairs and some snacks. Once the pandemic arrived, issues of sound quality, bandwidth and video availability came along, and technology became more important than the best GSA-approved office seating.
These days, meetings are even more complicated. Some attendees are in the office, and some are at home. Some have internet connections that can easily handle videoconferencing, and others have to turn off their cameras to stabilize their connections. Some have sidebar conversations in person, and those without a full view of the room wonder whether they’ve missed something.
How does an agency tell if it’s creating a positive digital experience for its employees? It’s no small feat when you’re evaluating something as subjective as whether people are getting what they need from a meeting, no matter their location.
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Hands-On Demonstrations Help Agencies Spot DX Improvements
Network monitoring tools can tell you whether a switch is off, and where, and if the fix is relatively quick. But when we talk about , more advanced solutions and monitoring capabilities are necessary. Users — trained by the occasionally shaky connections on their cellphones — tend to expect less-than-perfect video calls and may not bother to report issues.
It can be difficult for third-party industry vendors to take these measurements for an agency. The government doesn’t always want outsiders to set up monitoring equipment on federal networks, especially when the information gathered is going to leave the premises.
Technology pilots can be a valuable tool in these situations. For instance, some federal agencies are required to use a particular videoconferencing tool, but others may bounce between Zoom, Webex and Microsoft Teams. CDW•G’s Art of the Possible is just one site where customers can watch collaboration demonstrations showing them how multiple vendors can work together for a seamless experience.
As an agency begins using advanced monitoring tools and is able to detect jitter or delay or packet loss, IT staff can then start painting a better picture of the experience, providing detail that can’t be seen any other way.
Move Past Crisis to Consider Workers’ Digital Experience
Demonstrations are especially key when an agency is trying to create an experience that works in tandem with that of other agencies. Interoperability is a high priority for agencies that share information and work together frequently — think the intelligence community, or those working in disaster recovery.
Agency leaders shouldn’t have to worry about what kind of phones their employees have or what video platform the other agency uses. Federal workers should be able to just pick up the phone (or click the Start Meeting button) and make the call happen.
Industry is working on that very problem. Cisco, for example, has created devices such as the Desk Pro, which can register as Microsoft Teams and Webex, or even work in a hybrid manner. The companies work behind the scenes to make the software operate more unilaterally.
Now that the COVID-19 emergency is in the past, agencies are re-evaluating their business models, trying to understand what technology they have on board, looking at their budgets and searching for a solution to an issue so critical that it became the subject of a White House executive order.
In 2020, agencies were focused on just getting the job done. Today, they’re moving past crisis and starting to look at the right way to roll out new technology — and with a workforce used to remote work and more flexibility, ensuring that the digital experience agencies are designing for their employees enhances their workday and serves the mission.
This article is part of FedTech’s CapITal blog series.