When you think of computing behemoth IBM, most of us think of lumbering, enterprise computing systems, made to be managed by techies.
In fact, enterprise computing generally conjures up images of systems and software with dry interfaces that IT staff need to be thoroughly trained on and vendors need to offer considerable support for. Sadly, intuitive, consumer design is not widely associated with B2B software. But, things are a-changing. IBM recently unveiled a state of the art design studio in Texas.
The aim of the centre is to inject “human-centred design principles into next generation business software.” In other words, to start including user experience principles in enterprise software development. IBM’s move is a reflection of a growing trend that has its roots in the consumerisation of IT. Those who don’t like it can blame Apple. However, unsurprisingly most users of business software do like it and are clamouring for more user-friendliness. And I don’t blame them. For the most part, enterprise software can only go up when it comes to improving design and usability. As a long standing advocate of UX-led design and supporter of the usability movement I am delighted to see big B2B software firms starting to realise the importance of this issue. Usability isn’t just about making software look good.
As I have said previously UX is an important part of creating a competitive product. It’s good business. These days successful business software doesn’t just have offer powerful capabilities, it must also streamline complexity and be easy to use for employees, regardless of their technical skills. The growing power of the CMO in IT decision-making and the prevalence of customer experience technology, both show how potential users of new software are incredibly diverse. Underlining my point, qualitative research from Forrester in the US shows that a usable, intuitive user-interface is one of the top drivers of software choice among medium and large-sized companies.
Enterprise software companies that are serious about the evolution of their products, also need to be serious about UX design. World Usability Day is in November every year and is a great way to learn more about the usability movement but there are also myriad related conferences across the year, or if you have specific questions, you can get in touch with the team orginising our local edition – WUD Silesia.