Just a friendly reminder:
When we talk about UX, particularly for the enterprise, we’re talking about so much more than simply the visual design of the interface. Re-skinning your current software with “different colors” is essentially the same as putting lipstick on a pig. Enterprise UX covers needs and requirements, architecture, task flow, navigation, interactions, visual design, and more.
Enterprise UX is talked about, but rarely put into action. It is rare to find a company who develops and sells enterprise software that values the experience of the end user the same way a consumer app company does. They’re selling to the VPs and people consuming the data, not the poor worker who’s stuck in data entry. To make matters worse enterprise users typically don’t expect the same kind of experience because… well.. it’s a work tool. It values function over everything else.
It doesn’t have to be that way!
There are plenty of articles about how to design a good enterprise experience. The bigger question is why you should make it easier for the end user. You can actually end up saving a lot of money.
Lower formal training costs
The easier a product is to use, the less time it will take for someone to become proficient at it. Most software development companies offer formalized training programs, at the expense of the client. Reducing formal training costs makes you a more attractive vendor in a crowded space while producing significant savings.
Here’s an example. Let’s say it takes one full week of training to get the average user up to speed with your software. A UX consultancy says that for $50,000 they can reduce your training needs by a 5% (a pretty safe bet, really). Everyone’s salary is $50,000, you have 2,000 users that need training, and your product has a lifespan of 2 years. You’re looking at about $200,000 a year gain in reduced training costs. Really! Try it yourself with your real numbers.
Greater productivity and adoption
The complicated nature of enterprise software means that there is often a lot of information being presented all at once. Current enterprise design standards don’t help. When a user is presented with too much information they need to think for a few seconds on each page. Those few extra seconds to decide what info needs to be inputted where drives down the overall productivity.
Another example to illustrate. Let’s say 2,000 users each paid a $50,000 salary use a product 10 times per day, every (working) day. A $50,000 investment can shave 10 seconds off of each use time, and has a two year expected lifespan. By saving 10 seconds per use you’re looking at about $300,000 in annual gain from increasing productivity. Give it a shot, try your numbers.
This calculation doesn’t even consider clock watching if the current experience is bad enough. When the enterprise UX is good employees are far more likely to adopt the software for themselves. People will use your software because they’re told to, but they won’t adopt it. I mean, they probably won’t go home and show their spouse this cool new tool, but they will have a better time buying in to the top-down order of ‘use this’.
You’ve put in a ton of hard work to acquire customers. You’ve put in a ton of work to train your clients on how to use your software. Of course it hurts (the bottom line and your feelings) when they migrate away. When a client stops using your software it’s because they’ve lost the ability to see the value you provide. If you focus more resources on acquiring customers than keeping them, then you’re going to have a higher churn rate.
To combat this start by asking your users why. Then do something about it! Maybe your task flows don’t make as much sense as you thought they did. Or maybe you’re missing a fundamental piece of functionality. Maybe the client’s employees think your software is dated and they found a better experience with a competitor. It’s almost always easier and cheaper to retain a customer than to get a new one. Reducing churn can add up to a lot of extra revenue in a few years’ time. (Sorry, I couldn’t find a handy dandy calculator for this one!)
Differentiator and competitive advantage
Your enterprise software most likely competes in a crowded space which, unfortunately, makes your service commoditized. You need to stand out, and with so few companies investing in enterprise UX this is a great opportunity to do so.
In addition to differentiation ease of use and lower training costs are great selling features which can put you head and shoulders above your commoditized competition. When you can promise greater adoption and higher productivity than your competitors you’re in a good competitive position.
Consider partnering with a UX consultancy and talk about your enterprise UX goals. Chances are there’s a lot of money you’re leaving on the table.