Technology is everywhere in our daily lives. In business, we rotate from email to cloud platforms to collaboration apps to video conferencing software on a daily basis. New software and apps are developed and introduced constantly with the promise to make our lives easier. But do they really? Successful businesses around the country are starting to realize that the user experience (UX) involved in each piece of software is actually just as important—if not more so—than the strength or sophistication of the technology itself. In other words, if it’s too hard for an employee to use, it’s worthless.
Whether they know it or not, employees are speaking volumes about UX through lost productivity, constant retraining, or refusal to work with certain programs because they’re just too complicated. Turns out: it’s time for CIOs, CFOs, and CEOs to listen to them. The following are just a few reasons to move employee UX to the top of your priority list.
Have you ever witnessed someone trying to do a mail merge with an antiquated database program? You could probably hand-address envelopes faster than printing them out digitally. The same thing is true any time your employees are using programs that are not intuitive, simple, or easy to understand. Example: A friend of mine worked for an engineering company that spent thousands on software specifically meant to track engineering proposals. The only problem? It was so clunky, complicated, and difficult to use that employees had to be trained constantly how to run reports. And even then, they didn’t have faith they’d run them correctly. It took entire days to get stats that should have taken seconds or minutes! On the flip side, programs that are easy to use will make your employees lives easier, freeing them up to do bigger, better things.
One example shared by my colleague Shelly Kramer deals with the simple processing of purchase orders. In order to address slow and complicated software that was causing delays in purchasing new parts, Fisker Automotive began offering technology that allowed employees to complete and approve purchase orders instantly across devices. The company reduced time approval lags by up to 60 percent. And that’s just one process in one department. Think of how much it could do across your entire enterprise.
One of the reasons employee UX investments continue to fall by the wayside is that finance teams don’t fully understand the financial benefit—i.e. ROI. That’s why finance, HR, IT and the entire C-suite need to get informed on the importance of UX efforts. For one, when software is easy to use, it requires less training and less downtime on the part of employees trying to finagle their way through the software. Research proves this is true. In fact, the return on investment of a good UX ranges from $2 to $100 for every $1 invested.
Another example: at one offshore logistics company, UX helped managers make faster decisions on the go simply by improving the “view” of the data itself. It gained 40 percent faster turnaround time between decision-making and project launch. And in today’s economy, we know the importance of making-data backed decisions—and making them fast.
Helps Decrease App Sprawl
One sure fire way to know UX is a problem in your organization: app sprawl. That’s because when your software is too hard to use, employees start looking for workarounds to help them complete their tasks faster and easier. That leads to any number of programs downloaded from any number of locations—creating a greater security risk, and wasting IT’s time in added maintenance. On the flip side, when you focus on quality UX from the start, your employees have no reason to go rogue in the name of productivity. You have fewer apps to manage, and more time to work effectively.
Improves Employee Retention
Would you rather work for a company that uses a fax machine to communicate—or one that uses the latest in AI, AR, and video conferencing to keep employees in touch and engaged. Of course, we’d all choose the latter. The same is true for all your software. Employees are drawn to companies with the latest and greatest, not those on the edge of extinction. And with every employee lost, there’s the cost of re-hiring and re-training. Turns our poor UX costs companies in lots of ways.
Creates a Culture of Collaboration
Like I said above, UX is not just an IT job. The entire enterprise, from HR to marketing and finance, need to be involved in UX discussions, ensuring that any programs selected and funded are ones that meet the company’s business objectives and meet the employees’ everyday needs. Not only that, the company should be willing to revisit those programs every year to ensure they’re still meeting employee and business needs.
Indeed, at the rate technology is changing, the chances that any one solution will be the best available for your company year after year is unlikely. One of the best ways to help your company grow is to stay abreast of new developments in technology in your sector, and to be constantly thinking of ways to improve UX strategically throughout the enterprise. After all, easy-to-use programs are great—but they still need to be grounded in strong business strategy if you want to reap the benefits.
Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.