Reflecting on interactions with clients over the past few weeks, I realize our conversations no longer revolve around Service Level Agreements (SLAs). There was a point not too long ago that SLA commitments were a cornerstone of each deal. Now, the dialogue has shifted to: How can we improve the employee experience? How can we improve their productivity? How can we blur the lines between home and work? It’s all about Experience Level Agreements (ELAs) now.

Metrics drive behavior, but SLAs have not driven the right behavior. Service providers compete to deliver SLAs at the lowest possible price points. The result? Users and businesses suffer as the Quality of Experience degrades.

Providers may trumpet their greatness with green light SLAs, but these “watermelon metrics” mean that, despite green SLAs, users / businesses are often left red with frustration. It is quite pointless if a service that supposedly “delivered well” fails to help the business meet its objectives.

This is not to say SLAs don’t matter any longer. Customers need guaranteed uptimes and resolution times, but what is more important is the users’ experiences with the service.

SLAs take a very technology-centric view of the service, whereas ELAs deal with how it is received by the user. The key is to understand the business/user expectations and connect those to relevant IT goals.

Similar thinking can be used when thinking about the employee experience as well. Technological advancements mean employees are coming into work expecting the same experience with technology as at home. As the war for talent rages on, companies that provide great employee experience will attract and retain the best talent.

But who is accountable for driving experience for both employees and customers?

So far, it has been the responsibility of the IT organization. HR, using new technologies of their own, could certainly drive employee experience, and product managers, with support from marketing, could better understand and lead the customer experience. Or perhaps a new type of “CeO” – a Chief Experience Officer – in charge of employee and customer experience, could emerge.

Already, customer experience experts are being hired around the globe. The next level of maturity would be to create a function focused on driving experience: a team – under this new CeO – that wakes up every morning worrying about improving employee and user experience.

Irrespective of who drives this charter, the shift is clear. From an inside-out to outside-in perspective. From technology to user (business) centricity. From Quality of Service (QoS) to Quality of Experience (QoE). From SLA to ELA. The watchword in today’s Digital era: Experience!