These are exciting times to work with technology. Breakthroughs in mobile computing, big data, and artificial intelligence have enabled impressive strides in industries ranging from commerce to gaming and medicine. Unfortunately, enterprise software is behind the curve. Enterprises have tried to deliver “business apps” to help employees leverage and access the data they need, but most are slow, difficult to use, and bloated with too many features. No matter what you call them, chances are that employees hate using them, if they engage with them at all. A rose by any other name still has thorns and isn’t much fun to hold.
This is an issue because so many businesses and employees rely on different business apps to keep things running. Globally, these businesses are spending more than $3 trillion annually on IT. However, if nobody wants to use the apps designed to access or use the data being stored in the various IT systems (and they probably don’t) then that’s a lot of money wasted. In order to address this, we have to look at the reasons people aren’t using business apps.
- Data access takes too long. If your office is located in a major city, you can send an Uber there in minutes, get groceries from Instacart in a few hours, and pretty much anything else from Amazon Prime will show up in a day or two. But, no matter where you are, querying different business apps to create a comprehensive data report will probably take longer. Many apps still can’t effectively surface the data their users need, so employees have to track the information down manually, or send an email to shuffle the project off to someone else. Organizations with data trapped in siloed, legacy systems can spend weeks pulling information for a simple report. We live in an on-demand world now, and being forced to wait for seemingly simple results is increasingly infuriating. Even logging into these apps can be hassle — employees regularly lose track of all the credentials they need and end up filing IT tickets to recover passwords, if they don’t just put the endeavor off altogether. Successful business apps will streamline access to data and surface important insights to deliver quick results, instead of slowing users down.
- Dated UI design sucks. While you may think your business apps are fine and that outdated user interfaces are a problem the dusty enterprise systems have to face, you might be wrong. Consider Salesforce, the CRM app that’s modernized the industry. If you look at Siebel, the Salesforce predecessor with its heyday in the late 90s, the two interfaces look shockingly similar. Many business apps are still lagging when it comes to inviting, engaging interfaces. The key to creating business apps people actually use is to model them after the consumer apps that keep us glued to our smartphones with things like notifications that let us know when something has happened. Legacy and novel solutions alike often require user training. We’re also facing a shift toward more and more mobile or remote workers, so the UI in mobile apps is even more critical. These complex chunks of software cannot just be shoveled to smaller screens with cloud-inspired color schemes. They need to be rethought, and thoughtfully redesigned to make life easier for employees.
- People are lazy. Arguably the biggest barrier to business app engagement is admittedly no fault of their own. It’s yours. Or “ours,” if you prefer. It’s an unfortunate reality of life that people across the board are just lazy. Even worse, lazy or otherwise, studies show that the majority of workers openly consider themselves disengaged, if not “actively disengaged.” Having to work with intolerable technology isn’t going to encourage them to work harder. If anything, business apps should be helping them get their job done better and faster. People dread sifting through old school systems of record, but check Facebook every time it sends a friendly push notification to let them know they might want to look at something. We as people have been programmed to expect important happenings to be personally delivered to us. There is no FOMO instilled in those who don’t check ClickTime often enough, but maybe there should be.
All aspects of our lives are increasingly digital, mobile-friendly, and personalized by algorithms. New technology is making life better. It’s time for new tech to be applied to the old tech that most of us are still stuck working with.
Here is a quick video that highlight how Sapho is making life better.