Episode 4: Personas and Technology Solutions

The Razor’s Edge, a podcast series that examines “IT Services for the New Way to Work,” is produced by CIO.com in partnership with HP Inc. In the series, HP’s technology experts provide unique insights into the challenges associated with digital transformation and discuss how innovative, cloud-based services, solutions, and software can help you plan and prepare for what lies ahead.

The Razor’s Edge is hosted by Leif Olson, distinguished technologist at HP Inc. He’s joined by Bruce Michelson, distinguished technologist emeritus at HP; Jeff Malec, HP lifecycle strategist and technology and solutions evangelist; and Cody Gerhardt, HP distinguished technologist and a chief technologist.

In Episode 4, the group walks us down the path to simplify IT by dealing with groups of people who have similar requirements but may not necessarily do the same job. Often, this is called the development of “personas.”

Here are some highlights:

Bruce: Personas are an interesting topic. Early on in my career, believe it or not, I felt as though we always were treating different people differently, given their roles, given their jobs, effectively, their “persona.” Executives were always treated differently, with a set of entitlements, as were engineers. But that was too simplistic. Hence, the user segmentation methodology was born. And that begat the output, which is the personas. And we're going to be talking with our teammates about what those personas look like.

Leif: What's the number that we should be looking at before we start creating personas based on groups of people, so we don't end up with 100 personas within one organization? That would be unmanageable.

Jeff: Yeah, 100 personas are completely unmanageable. And the intent here is to is to divide folks up into between five and seven groups. Each group should have at least 10% of the population, so they’re relevant. However, there’s another issue. We have five distinct generations in the workforce. They are different and have their own attitudes. Back to Bruce: You've done a considerable work around demographics, how it's impacting organizations and how they should respond. And you call it “Planet Me.”

Bruce: Planet Me is what we’re living on right now. And what's very interesting about Planet Me is it’s a planet that’s shifting. Alphas are the generation that’s going to be coming into the workforce and will be the sixth generation in the workforce. But you got 5% to 7% of the workforce that is Gen Z; 20% to 25% who are millennials; Gen X, which is about 30% to 35% of workers; and baby boomers, who are 20% to 25%. Each have their own understanding, expectations, and skills with technology. However, by the year 2030, millennials, Gen Z, and alphas will represent anywhere up to 50% or more of the workforce, and they are the most technology-savvy generations.

Leif: So, when I look at my total population within an organization, obviously not everyone is going to fit within a persona. But what’s the target that we’re looking for? Are we looking for, you know, 50% to be within personas, or 70%, 75%, 90%? What are we looking at here? And why?

Bruce: User segment personas are going to end up being about 80% of the total. There are probably thousands of job codes and job descriptions, many of which are free form. Personas are what these roles are aggregated into.

Jeff: The reality is, you look at the highest level of entitlements in that particular persona and then assign that group to that persona. That way, you’re not necessarily underserving them and then having to recategorize them later. Always try to put somebody in the highest level that they qualify for.

Leif: Thanks for that great discussion on the process of user segmentation that leads to the implementation of personas. Hopefully, the listeners out there understand a little bit more about why this is such an important process to implement so that IT can provide the right solutions for the right users and give the best experience possible.

Have a question for Leif and the guys? You can reach them here: therazorsedge@hp.com.

Ready for a deeper dive? Meet with an HP Services expert.

Don’t miss Episode 1: Modern Management, Episode 2: The Great Resignation and Episode 3: Busting Some BYOD Myths