Cerence (NASDAQ: CRNC) is the leading provider of mobility assistants for the world’s leading automakers. A global R&D leader with more than 20 years of experience employing 2,000 people worldwide and generating nearly $400m revenue. Cerence technology has shipped in over 400 million cars.
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How to get structured data on IT services from end-user perspective
Having spun off from its parent company, Cerence had to build all its business systems from scratch while going through an intensive rebrand and launch process. CEO Dr. Stefan Ortmanns noted
“As part of the spin-out process, IT needed to play a critical role in both managing a complex disentanglement of legacy systems while effectively supporting a global, hybrid team.”
CIO Bridget Collins was aware that through this period some things were working well, while some were not.
“We had all the systems in place, but I was struggling with understanding how I was doing from an end-user services perspective. I was in the midst of what felt like chaos, and I had no reliable way to find out what was or wasn’t working across our global operations.”
It was unclear whether the technology being provided to employees was delivering value or meeting the needs of the different types of end users around the world – from Engineering to Sales to Operations.
Quality IT User Experience data with actionable insights
Cerence realised that the way forward was to directly ask their end users about their experience of using IT. They needed a tool that was secure yet easy to deploy, that could generate powerful, actionable insights quickly to inform their action plan for IT.
Having evaluated a number of solutions, Cerence chose Voxxify’s IT Experience Measurement (ITX) tool due to its focus on IT, ease of use, and seamless implementation. Eric Trzaskos, Director of IT Business Operations at Cerence, shares why they chose Voxxify:
“Ease of use and setup. The survey design generates immediate insights and provides accurate trending over time. We had initially considered using one of the well-known survey tools or building it out ourselves, but the benefits Voxxify brings sets it apart from any other solution on the market.”
The high response rates (over 50%) achieved by Voxxify surveys with minimal reminders was another attraction – increasing the reliability of the insights generated. Being a fast-growing tech company, Cerence wanted quick, actionable insights, and the built-in Machine Learning-based analytics meant the results and insights would be available instantly once the survey closed.
Objective evidence to negotiate with vendors
Cerence gained unexpected insights about services that were causing issues.
“This objective, quality data, supported by thousands of verbatim comments from end-users, all automatically categorized by service, enabled us to achieve financial savings as well as secure budget for product improvements,” noted Collins.
For example, within just 6 months they used the data to renegotiate a multi-year Telephony contract, while also securing a 60% price reduction on their core sales automation tool, achieving a 15X return on investment (ROI) in Voxxify. Further, the structured insights into user-issues inform their Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) with key vendors, achieving cost-savings while ensuring software updates address user concerns.
Empowered managers with robust data
While there was initial reticence regarding some critical feedback from end-users, after seeing the quality of the data provided by Voxxify this attitude changed radically and the IT team felt more empowered by the information. According to Trzaskos:
“They knew this was good quality, objective data that clearly showed what people were really saying, feeling, thinking. Once the team got their arms around the data they felt much more empowered, and the survey insights now form a critical part of our IT planning process.”
The insights validated decisions made, such as the investment in bringing the IT Service Desk in-house. The data also highlighted clear training gaps with a company-wide resource planning tool, showing that the asset wasn’t being fully utilised. Targeted training and tactics like regional IT drop-in sessions increased productivity significantly.
Highlight gaps in IT User Experience across Regions, Functional Areas
Clear differences in experience between Regions and Functional Areas emerged, for example a 43% difference between the IT team’s experience compared to R&D and Professional Services. Collins commented
“That was a big insight for me, because when I look at the company as a whole: it’s a technology company with more than 50% of users in those two groups. And if they’re the ones that are the least happy, they’re the ones I need to focus on.”
The data has enabled the IT team to understand what is causing issues and to create targeted action plans.
Systematic process for continuous improvement
By gathering this data during a period of rapid change, Collins established a baseline to measure against success of future technology rollouts. Year 1 data revealed employee experience gaps and the built-in analytics helped pinpoint and prioritize IT improvements that would add most value, providing the foundation for a targeted action plan.
12 months later, the data proved the impact IT’s efforts had on employee experience, providing valuable validation for the CIO. Looking ahead, Voxxify’s powerful trending capabilities will provide Cerence with the ability to continuously improve IT in a measurable way.
End-user centric IT delivers for the bottom line
Implementation of the Voxxify ITX Platform generated significant benefits for Cerence, helping the CIO and her team to understand where to prioritize investment during a critical time for the business. Employees were delighted to be asked their opinion on IT services, and the engagement with end users became a big win for the company. CEO Dr. Stefan Ortmanns notes:
“By focusing on improving the end user experience, Bridget and her team have supported Cerence’s global workforce in achieving record contracts and revenues”.
This user-centric approach was recognised by peers when Collins was named the 2021 BostonCIO of the Year® in the Corporate category, chosen by her CIO peers.
“Voxxify provided me with a simple, seamless way to get feedback across the world from every different kind of user in our company. I would recommend it to anyone who feels like they need to get a handle on where they need to prioritize. The insights helped us improve IT User Experience by 48% in a year of rapid change while also achieving a ROI of 15X, and we look forward to implementing continuous improvement with Voxxify in the years ahead.”