May 31st, 2012
 | Making Cents

Usability in Enterprise Applications .. Part I

ease of use - placard

It’s a small miracle that we never had an “Arab Spring” equivalent from the users of the enterprise business applications!


The users of enterprise applications have tolerated the productivity sapping and non-intuitive user experience for a long time. One big reason is - users didn’t know anything better! Everywhere they look and every vendor they evaluate all seem the same!


That’s changing as more and more consumer applications are getting built on the Internet platform!


Nick Jenkinson, head of procurement at A&N Media, one of the Coupa customers, put this succinctly - “I want to have the same buying experience on Monday at work as I had on Sunday night at home”.  As Rich Internet Application (RIA) features like drag and drop have became a reality, and as more and more people from the younger generations, used to the usability of the likes of Facebook and Twitter, started entering the workforce, people within the enterprise are starting to demand intuitive user experience from the enterprise applications. As usability guru Jacob Neilson says - “The internet is about usability. The computer industry has been able to ship difficult-to-use products because you buy first, then use it. With the web, usability comes first, then you click to buy or become a return visitor ..”


Finally, it’s time, the vendors of enterprise software cared about user experience!


Evaluating the usability of an enterprise application, however, can be a daunting task. It’s common for vendors these days to claim victory on usability after doing only “re-skinning” of old interfaces.


In the upcoming posts, I will talk about key questions an evaluator of an enterprise application need to be asking to recognize “lipstick on the pig” among other issues!

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