Relentlessly prioritize consumer-grade software in the enterprise


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For years technologists talked about “consumerization of IT” and yet to this day most enterprise software remains clunky, inflexible, and cumbersome. This is in part due to the proliferation of legacy technology and systems that are entrenched in business today. That said, making things more user friendly is no small feat and tends to take a backseat to variables like cost and delivery timing. Marketers in particular face a unique paradox in that they must create frictionless, world-class digital experiences for their customers, but rarely do the marketers themselves have tools with intuitive, frictionless design to do so.

As enterprises grow increasingly reticent to adopt non-user centric software that can be difficult to onboard, maintain, and scale, marketers must relentlessly prioritize and choose consumer-grade technology for their businesses. Here are three questions to consider when evaluating if new technologies are a fit for your business.

1. Does this technology complement my existing systems?

The MarTech industry is experiencing unique polarizing forces as both massive company consolidation and the proliferation of new solutions continues. Scott Brinker’s latest MarTech supergraphic identified more than 8,000 solutions in 2020, up 13.6 percent year over year.

While best-of-breed solutions have won the day, integration challenges remain and stand in the way of achieving consumer-grade design quality. Even the most intuitive product and system designs can be nullified if they don’t seamlessly integrate with existing solutions. Marketers value turnkey, simple solutions with a clear path to measurable business value.

For example, consider the relationship between a CDP and an e-commerce marketing platform. A CDP could include an easy-to-use, rules engine interface to inform marketing strategies. Yet, if the data and outputs from the CDP rules engine don’t easily translate to the company’s e-commerce marketing system, the overall usability of the system is flawed.

When considering a new solution, digital experience teams must work in tandem with IT leads to understand how the tech will fit into the company’s broader ecosystem. Ask solution providers about the average onboarding time and the most frequently encountered challenges new customers face.

2. How will this technology help me do my job more effectively?

The onus of intuitive product design is on the designer, not the end-user. Marketers aren’t data scientists or software engineers, and they shouldn’t need to learn how to be in order to use a new application or system. Enterprise applications are more complex than consumer applications, but a good enterprise user experience (eUX) minimizes the impact of complexity on the users.

Make sure that the company selling the enterprise product isn’t just propagating shiny features and buzzwords like “AI-driven” or “machine learning enabled” that appeal to the C-suite, when the product itself isn’t built with the end user in mind. Otherwise the promises of time savings and operational efficiency will in practice turn into cumbersome onboarding, reduced productivity, and decreased employee morale.

Beyond the negative implications of poor eUX, there’s also a significant financial upside to quality eUX. McKinsey & Company found that companies who prioritize good design grow revenues and shareholder returns at nearly twice the rate of their industry peers. This principle applies not only to the products you build, but to the solutions you adopt. At the end of the day, product design has the power to hinder or help your team and business thrive.

3. Is there a clean feedback loop between the end user and the enterprise software team?

Every business has unique challenges. The tools to solve those challenges must be flexible to adapt to those needs. Ideally, the technology you’re adopting should be a good fit for your business with turnkey deployment right from the start.

Of course, it’s difficult to know what you might need months or years down the road. So another way to ensure a product is a good fit for your business is to take stock of a system’s feedback loop between the end user and the enterprise software team. This is often an indication of customer-centric design.

Pressure test what would happen if you’d want to make adjustments in the future. The support team’s response to these questions will foretell what making adjustments to the system may look like once you actually deploy it.

Raising the bar for consumer-grade in the enterprise

While there are many important considerations when making a technology investment, product design and usability must be at the forefront of purchasing decisions. In their day-to-day lives people are constantly interacting with world-class UX, from the consoles in their cars to the apps on their phones, if enterprise software can’t live up to those experiences it is going to be perceived as antiquated and inefficient, and rightly so.

Poor usability and un-intuitive interfaces are no longer acceptable, especially in an enterprise setting. After all, people using enterprise software aren’t doing so for enjoyment like a game or social media, they use it because their jobs depend on it . Choose tools that will set your teams up for success and make their lives easier. With a myriad of solutions available, particularly in the marketing sector, it’s critical to prioritize intuitive, flexible, consumer-grade product design.

Leigh Anne Dunkin
Leigh Anne Dunkin is the Vice President of Product and Design at Brightloom. She has 20 years of technology experience leading product teams from vision to launch. She previously led the Product and Design teams at Amazon for Amazon Care, was the Director of Emerging Technology at Starbucks for Mobile Order & Pay and voice technology, and served as the head of mobile product management at Alaska Airlines. She began her career as a forensic engineer at NASA and Microsoft.


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