In recent years, End User Experience or UX Design has become a bit of a phenomena.
People who have been interacting with technology on a day to day basis for nearly 27 years (since the arrival of the internet) and even longer (depending on a person’s profession) have, until recently, failed to recognize the value of making business applications feel similar to the experience we have when interacting with technology from the comfort of our homes.
Then, there was a wave of change. In 2007, Apple released the first version of the iPhone, promising it to be the most intuitive smartphone on the market. Based on simple, intuitive functionality, designed to work for the user (not for beauty, nor process) - the iPhone reinvented the way we viewed smartphones. Companies developing and supplying enterprise applications and other business software also took notice, and began to develop an array of solutions designed around the user. Perhaps most notably SAP’s SAP Fiori: a design principle based at the intersection of people, technology and business.
For employees interfacing with UX friendly business applications, companies are able to save in training costs and benefit from increases in employee productivity. A well designed business application can even make employees do their jobs better by making it more simple to gain access to the resources they need. Although technology has always intended to serve this role to business users, there has always been a general rejection of new technological solutions by the employees they are made for. There’s one simple reason for this: they are not simple nor intuitive.
So why has UX Design failed to take off in many organizations?
Selling UX Design is difficult.
Often times the hardest selling point of UX in an organization is making other stakeholders understand its value. Proponents of UX design can spend a majority of their time trying to evangelize UX across their organization: to the CIO, CFO, CSO and so on - with little results.
Although we believe that evangelizing UX across your enterprise is a time-consuming but necessary deed, we also believe there are simpler ways that will help you introduce this phenomenon into your organization.
Think big, start small, deploy rapidly.
Having worked with several customers across various industries, first hand experience shows that nothing is more powerful than business user advocacy. It’s also, frankly, much easier to get buy-in on developing UX based applications when the initial investment is low.
Consider one of our customers, a leading US based manufacturer. When tasked with the challenge of increasing the performance of some of their most data-intensive processes and applications on SAP, we presented them with a new idea: improve both system and user performances by leveraging the SAP HANA sidecar, with a SAP Fiori, UX centric interface. Together with our client, we focused on a few basic processes and reports for one specific department in the finance area. High speed, intuitive, simple design based on user tasks proved to be a big hit with our pilot group, and soon the business community requested to extend the same approach to support different business areas. Today, their entire SAP ECC is running on SAP HANA and more than 5% of their business users are running on SAP Fiori UX - a number we can only foresee will continue to grow.
What’s the real value gained from investing in End User Experience Design?
UX design for enterprise applications is going to give an organization at least four things that help improve their bottom line:
- Increased user performance & satisfaction;
- Reduced time spent to deploy a solution (estimated between 33 and 50%);
- Minimized amount of rework on applications - by up to 50%;
- Decreased (sometimes, eliminated) costs on training and change management, as well as technical maintenance and updates.
More tangibly speaking, a recent article published by Amazon Web Services, coined "The Trillion Dollar UX Problem", suggests that for every $1 spent on UX, a company receives $100 in return - that’s a 9,900 percent ROI.
The time for UX is right now.
User Centric Design projects not only have less risk of failing, they can also be more cost effective to implement thanks to the agile methodology used to deploy them. It’s estimated that reworking the design of a solution after it's been approved and moved to production costs 100x more than getting it right the first time.
With user centric design, companies can bring together their business customers and IT to deploy optimal solutions on the first-go, assuring that users will adopt and integrate these new solutions into their everyday practices.
What UX is right for you?
Don’t be confused - there is no single UX solution or scenario for every business, nor every business user. Understanding your business and how employees work is fundamental in determining the right solution. Furthermore, UX solutions for SAP centric organizations may be considerably different from non-SAP centric organizations, and of course it depends on the solution you want to create for your users.
In a recent webinar, for instance, I highlighted possible End User Experience strategies and tools in the context of mobilizing SAP applications.