Are your systems really user-friendly … or is that enterprise hype?

Are the systems and technologies you use to serve and communicate with customers really “intuitive” and “easy to use”? Or do most people at your company simply believe that because that’s what the engineers or developers who came up with those solutions told you when you adopted them?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably adopted — and later abandoned — quite a few so-called enterprise “solutions”. Why? Most likely because all the wonderful things that software was promised to do never transpired. That virtual team collaboration tool didn’t really make your work easier and more streamlined. That cloud-based project management software didn’t eliminate the need for emails and phone calls as promised. And that brilliant cross-device app for document sharing solved some workplace problems while creating several altogether new ones.

Part of the problem is the appeal of novelty: when a new enterprise service is launched with much fanfare and glowing tech news reviews of its “revolutionary” nature, it’s hard to not get a little excited and want to give it a try. But that problem eventually reveals another one that’s more problematic: that the hype about the offering simply couldn’t live up to reality. The “brilliant” digital solution turned out to be not so brilliant after all.

One veteran tech executive, whose latest startup focuses on “micro-apps” to make managing work projects easier, recalls his own past experience as the chief strategy officer at another organisation:

“I spanned every line of business in the organisation, which gave me a unique view into how miserable enterprise software made nearly every person in the company,” Sapho founder and CEO Fouad ElNaggar wrote in a recent blog post. “People went out of their way to not use these systems of record. It’s as if they were designed to keep people from using them. And it wasn’t just the legacy or homegrown systems, a lot of celebrated SaaS software was just as bad!”

There’s also research that shows a similar response on the consumer side. In a 2015 report tellingly titled, “Your customers will not download your app,” Forrester analyst Julie A. Ask noted that people simply aren’t using nearly as many apps as you might believe: no matter how many apps they might have on their devices, she wrote, “On average, only five apps that consumers download from the app store make up a sizable 84% of time spent on non-native apps.”

The bottom line for any organisation that truly wants to help its people work more effectively is this: You need to pay attention to how people are actually working, communicating, sharing and collaborating, and then talk with them about what can be improved to make those tasks easier. You might be surprised to hear that the tools they currently have aren’t the ones they really need and want.

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