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VMblog Expert Interview: Aternity Talks Digital Experience Management, Digital Transformation and Hybrid Workforce

interview aternity 

VMblog recently caught up with Fernando Castanheira, CIO at Aternity to find out what the company has been up to, and to learn from his expertise around the topics of digital experience management, digital transformation projects and the growing hybrid workforce.

VMblog:  Hi Fernando, welcome!  Tell us a little bit about your background and your current role at Aternity. Fernando Castanheira:  Thanks, David, excited to be speaking with you again. Sure, happy to provide some background. Before joining Aternity in 2020, I served as Managing Director and CTO at JPMorgan Chase for over 20 years, leading large-scale organizations through digital transformation, productivity, and security initiatives. I have extensive leadership experience across infrastructure and software engineering functions, focusing on digital workplace technologies, end-user services, multimedia/telecom, and corporate technology functions. 

At Aternity, I currently serve as Chief Information Officer and Chief Customer Officer. Aternity is a digital experience management company that provides critical insights that enterprises need to increase productivity, reduce IT-related costs, and improve employee and customer satisfaction. I oversee all aspects of Aternity's IT in this dual role, including digital transformation, cybersecurity, and all business and productivity platforms. I also work alongside our clients daily to better understand their business challenges and how Aternity can help them achieve their goals. I joined Aternity at an exciting time for the company and have been assisting the leadership team drive digital innovation and continue to grow the business and client base.

VMblog:  What exactly is digital experience management?

Castanheira:  In modern enterprises, digital platforms, tools, and technologies act as the primary touchpoint between businesses and their employees. Because of this, these touchpoints are a vital factor in the overall employee experience (EX). The problem is, organizations know that delivering an exceptional EX is essential now more than ever, but they don't have the proper visibility to understand what drives it. This is where Digital Experience Management or DEM comes in.

DEM brings together all the digital touchpoints a business has with its employees and customers to provide a continuous and holistic view of the organization across applications, devices, and services. With data coming from across the business, IT leaders can determine how to improve the employee experience, minimize disruption, and optimize cost, all while improving employee and customer satisfaction. maximize employee productivity and engagement, reduce IT-related costs, and improve employee and customer satisfaction.

VMblog:  Last we chatted in December, we talked about how enterprises were evaluating making remote work permanent, shifting to a hybrid workforce, or returning to a primarily office-centric workforce.  How have those conversations been going?

Castanheira:  One of the key things most of our customers have learned is that they need to remain flexible and focus on delivering a consistent experience for employees and customers regardless of location. Many enterprises have now updated, or delayed return office plans several times due to the changing dynamic of the pandemic.

With all this change, we have seen continued evidence that customers are increasingly seeing the value in providing employees flexibility and adopting a permanent hybrid work environment. This shift continues to gain momentum because some employees are eager to get back into the office, others are more productive at home, and enterprises have been forced to adapt to a myriad of national and local regulations. The key is for organizations to be flexible, allow employees to work from wherever best suits their needs, and maintain the ability to deliver a consistent digital experience.

VMblog:  If a hybrid workforce seems to be the way most enterprises are going, what should IT teams do to prepare for this shift?

Castanheira:  One thing is for sure, the adjustment to hybrid work will not be easy. Getting people back into the office - no matter the capacity - will not be a simple flip of a switch.

Last year, when IT teams were abruptly forced into a fully remote workforce, their focus was on ensuring employees could do their jobs effectively at home. It will be essential for companies to ensure that the digital workplace is seamless for employees to effectively work from the office, home, and essentially everywhere. This flexibility means that the digital workplace will need to operate well for remote employees and employees who will return to the office while also serving as a productive matter their physical location. The changes that companies made to their digital workplaces since going remote will stay and need to continue to evolve. It will be necessary for IT teams to reassess their digital workplace, including the company's collaboration app portfolio, within the context of the newly defined or updated flexible work policies. Hybrid work ensures employees have the tools they need to work effectively regardless of location.

VMblog:  After over a year of adjusting to a predominantly remote workforce, what are some of the key differences IT teams will notice during a shift to a hybrid workforce?

Castanheira:  The shift to hybrid work is a double-edged sword for IT teams. It enables them to provide a seamless experience in the office and at home but eliminates much of the visibility and control of the underlying infrastructure. This lack of visibility and management can make it extremely difficult to troubleshoot poor performance, resolve help desk issues, and support the overall digital experience. 

To close this gap, IT teams need to look at their organization holistically and ask questions to determine if they are providing the same support for employees regardless of location (for example):

  • Can they provide the same help desk support to an employee working on a network they don't control as one in the company headquarters?
  • Are they able to determine if Salesforce is slow because of an issue with the cloud provider or the employee's device?

A focus on the holistic digital experience is the next step in organizations' digital transformation.

VMblog:  The pandemic put digital transformation projects on hyper drive.  As a result, companies accelerated their cloud migrations and invested heavily in cloud-based applications and infrastructure.  How can companies optimize these investments from the last year to operate more efficiently and improve productivity? 

Castanheira:  Pre-pandemic, most enterprises had a digital workplace transformation program in progress, and the pandemic put these programs into hyperdrive. Now organizations need to figure out how to optimize these investments to improve overall productivity and efficiency.

The ability to access corporate applications, resources, and rich collaboration from any device, any location, at any time, is now expected from workers. IT teams need to continue adjusting and delivering on these expectations to keep their company competitive and win in the battle for top talent. 

As companies adopt hybrid work and continue to evolve their thinking of the modern workplace, it is essential to reassess these investments, update them, or invest in new technology to ensure employees an overall good employee experience.

VMblog:  Speaking of technology, what technology do you see set to grow this year?  What digital transformation projects should CIOs focus on in 2022?

Castanheira:  Moving forward, we will continue to see the increased demand and reliance on collaboration tools for workers to be productive and get their jobs done. We will also see more companies increase the usage of virtual desktops. Since the desktop is based in the cloud, it provides employees with a seamless digital experience from anywhere. It gives IT teams flexibility as they don't have to depend on managing hardware devices, like laptops or desktops remotely.

In this more complex IT world, end to end visibility will continue to be an emerging theme as we move forward. CIOs and technology managers will need the necessary tools and platforms to measure IT performance from an end user perspective across all 3 dimensions; device, network/infrastructure, and applications. In the end what really matters from an end user's perspective is the overall experience on how a particular application or service is being delivered. CIOs and IT teams will benefit from platforms that can monitor/measure those activities and provide actionable insights at the individual and aggregate level.

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Published Monday, November 15, 2021 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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