Why a Single Vendor Can't Meet Your Employee Experience Needs

Definitions of “digital workplace” abound, but the simplest way to describe it is as the collection of online applications employees use to get work done.

As such, what constitutes the digital workplace (DW) varies not only across organizations but even within a single organization. Each enterprise has a portfolio of tools that are intended for different departments and roles. For example, a salesperson will use a particular set of tools while a finance person will use a different set of tools. However, they will also share a common set of services (e.g., email or IM).

The EmpEx Stack

In the Digital Workplace, the full employee experience stack (EmpEx Stack) consists of three layers:

  • Major Line of Business Systems (including Core HR systems)
  • Self-Service Applications
  • Communication and Collaboration Tools

So for HR employees, their DW consists of HR management applications + Self-Service toolsets + Communication & Collaboration stacks.

Employee Digital Experience Supergraphic
The EmpEx 200 (click to enlarge). Source: RSG

Across this 3-layered EmpEx Stack, we identify 25 key categories of vendors, each typically with specialized players as well as big-name vendors that span multiple categories. Examples of large vendors include Google, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM — but even these behemoths don’t cover all or even most of the categories.

No Single Dominant Player

What this means is that you won’t find a single, dominant player.  In fact, some of the larger vendors have proven slower to adopt software “consumerization” practices. Innovation has therefore tended to favor smaller vendors specializing in a single or a few select categories.

You have to craft effective employee digital experiences from a wide assortment of tools
You have to craft effective employee digital experiences from a wide assortment of tools. Image Source: AdWeek

This also means that you can’t buy an “employee experience system.”  You necessarily have to create effective experiences from a wide collection of tools, and this puts a premium on having employee-centric technology selection and implementation practices in place throughout this stack. RSG can help you here.

To Summarize:

  • The EmpEx stack is quite broad (with more than two dozen categories)
  • No vendor covers more than 10-12 of these categories
  • Even among the segments they address, larger players excel at only a subset of those categories
  • Innovation is increasingly the forte of smaller vendors
  • In short, you cannot just buy “EmpEx” off-the-shelf from a single supplier , so achieving effective employee UX becomes a multi-vendor pursuit


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