Will Companies Cut Back On DEX In 2023? Not The Smart Ones.

Customers often ask whether companies will invest less in digital employee experience (DEX) in 2023 given the economic pressure. A few assumptions drive the question:

  • DEX is not as high of a priority as other areas, such as customer experience.
  • Companies only invest in employees during times of plenty.
  • Digital employee experience is a “nice-to-have.”

Some of these assumptions are true. Customer experience consistently scores higher on the priorities list than employee experience — and for good reason. The 3% of companies today that are truly customer-obsessed have the highest revenue growth, profitability, and customer retention, according to Forrester’s The State Of Customer Obsession, 2022.

It’s also true that employees are often the first investment to go when times get tough. Just look at all the recent layoffs from companies like Microsoft, Google, and Spotify. Forrester’s recent forecast shows that global tech spending will slow to 4.7% in 2023. The reality is that, yes, some companies will pull back on DEX investments, but we predict that they’ll ultimately suffer the long-term consequences.

The problem is that investments in employees can directly impact customer experience, as we recently saw with Southwest Airlines. So while DEX may seem like a “nice-to-have,” it’s an absolute must, especially when degraded employee experiences negatively impact customer and business outcomes. The smartest companies know this, and we won’t see them cutting back DEX investments in 2023. They’ll need to approach DEX differently, however, to prove the business case.

Cost Reduction Takes Center Stage

Up until now, companies have historically purchased DEX tools to improve employee engagement. Our recent report, Make Digital Employee Experience The Centerpiece Of Your Digital Workplace Strategy, demonstrates that higher engagement translates into retention. Customers were willing to pay the extra few dollars per month per device because they intrinsically believed that investments in DEX would have long-term impacts of employee engagement. While that’s absolutely true, it’s a harder business case to prove because the benefits accrue over a longer time horizon.

Get The CFO’s Approval With Five Proven Use Cases

If you’re a passionate DEX practitioner today, your job is to get continued funding for these tools, and the way to do that is to lean into tactical use cases that drive immediate value. Once you can cover the licensing costs through these costs, it unlocks your ability to tackle the longer-term business outcomes, such as customer and employee experience.

Five Proven DEX Use Cases

Each year, I’m lucky to speak with hundreds of customers. Here are the most common examples I hear from clients that they use to justify the extra investment in DEX tools:

  • Instant visibility. One large credit union reduced the time it takes to identify a workstation name from 8.5 minutes to 0 minutes, saving time for both the admin and the employee. Another energy provider discovered that thousands of devices were using more than 70% of their physical memory, which helped inform future memory investments.
  • Proactive asset management. Companies will frequently use DEX tools to identify when a device is ready for retirement or still has some juice in it. One multinational mining company is saving 25% of each new PC due to extending refresh cycles through experience optimization.
  • Automated remediation. One large telecommunications company saved $200K in staff resources by remediating the Log4j security vulnerability in 3 hours across nearly 50,000 endpoints, saving time for staff and reducing the risk of legal ramifications for noncompliance. Another large manufacturing company decreased ticket volume by 74% through automation, leading to decreased costs and support ratios.
  • Improved boot-up time. One government client once told me that it took employees an average of 25 minutes to log on to their PCs each and every morning — that stacks up! A large bank reduced PC boot-up time from an average of 5 minutes to an average of 18 seconds.
  • License reclamation. One large pharmaceutical companies was able to use a DEX tool to identify software and save a large amount of money by finding a custom app that only five people had used, even though they had assigned licenses for hundreds of users.

What Use Cases Are You Pursuing In 2023?

I’m actively collecting examples and conducting research on DEX use cases. If you have a use case that drives high value, please reach out to me via email at ahewitt@forrester.com or LinkedIn.