Consumerization of enterprise software: 5 tips to make your business application more engaging

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Technology plays a key role in today's business environment, and using the right software can help change the way a company does business and facilitate work practices for both managers and staff.

Nevertheless, there’s always the flip side of the coin. With the ever-growing number of functions and features, working with business applications has become a burden for staff, fueling resentment and inefficiencies.

Imposed by company’s management, these solutions often fail to be user-friendly and are often difficult to learn. As a result, 80% of time is spent on routine operations like data input and only 20% spent on effective work with the data.

If people spend so much of their day using these enterprise software products, why then are these products not designed with the user more in mind in order to engage them and lead to greater productivity?

That is why consumerization of IT has recently become a major trend in the world of modern information technologies.

While most organizations are still dealing with consumerization of IT in a reactive way, recent IDG Enterprise research states that consumerization of enterprise IT brings many positive impacts to the organization, including user satisfaction (82%), user productivity (76%) and business agility (70%).

The time of traditional cumbersome, unattractive and complex enterprise solutions has passed. From the next-generation enterprise applications the users expect the tools to attract engagement and enhance collaboration.

In other words, employees would like their enterprise software to be as much fun and as easy to use as their favorite social networks. Nearly 1/5 of all time users spend online they spend in social networks. Imagine what business benefits could be achieved if a companies’ staff were as engaged in using corporate information systems?!

Not surprisingly according to the recent Accenture report, 88% of executives say consumer technology can improve job satisfaction.

Most people who use Twitter, Facebook or Google+ probably couldn’t explain exactly why they find the site visually more appealing, but there are some hints that unite all those resources – they’re simple and engaging. One of the major challenges that the IT industry has faced over the last few years is creating business applications that are as light in design, as simple and as engaging as social networks are.

What can software developers do to address these challenges and satisfy the demand of users? Here are some trends that could help:

Simplify

Design the business application with the user in mind. Make the interface as simple and visually appealing as your favorite social network. The style should be minimalistic but elegant and free from redundant information to keep the user focused on what is relevant. Navigation elements could be implemented that would help users to be more productive while they are using the corporate information system.

Support BYOD

Ensure the application has the same look and feel independently of the device – desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile. Thus the users will not have to spend time learning how to use the software on each of the devices that they might use. Once they’ve learned to work with it on a computer, they are ready to go with it a smartphone!

Introduce context-based approach

It’s clear that your business application stores a massive amount of data that your company has generated. However how can your employees effectively work with the ever-growing flow of data? One way is to make sure that the displayed information always matches the specific actions you are trying to fulfill. For example for opportunities it will be information about additional products/services, loan options or special offers. The secondary data shall remain hidden.

Gamify

Why do some business applications fail to be engaging? Often there’s a lack of motivation among users, who can’t see all the benefits that the software provides at a glance. Introduction of ‘gamification’ elements should improve labour management, and competition mechanisms will encourage staff to work with greater enthusiasm and perseverance and be more engaged in their day-to-day work.

Create community

Incorporate a community inside the business application so the users could share their thoughts and get necessary information from colleagues in one feed.

At BPMonline we have incorporated most of these trends into the new version 7.0 of BPMonline CRM solution. You can see how the consumerization approach worked for us.

Learn more about BPMonline CRM 7.0 >>