Would you pay for content from a streaming service that required you to read a detailed manual in order to find and then watch any shows you picked? Would you use Instagram if it meant grinding through a series of hour-long tutorials on how to post a photo? Could you comprehend ponying up the cash for a smartphone if you knew it would take months, maybe even years to figure out how to use it properly?
You no doubt answered “no” to these questions because you value your time, and you have a clear expectation of what certain products offer and will require in return.
For many years the gap between the enterprise app-experience and a regular consumer app experience was cavernous — enterprise software was not expected to be user-friendly, it was expected to be complex and robust enough to carry out functions on a large-scale. But a shift has occurred, and a new paradigm has emerged.
A consumer-grade experience is now integral to building enterprise app software, what users expect, and is mission-critical for companies interested in maintaining a position of strategic leadership in their respective industry.
What is a consumer–grade experience?
Simply put, if you can intuitively operate a product with little or no training required, you are having a consumer grade experience. You can open a box or download an app, press a button and bam. In a few minutes you’re on your way to using a product you have never used before.
Typically, a consumer-grade product or experience will offer the following features:
- Simplicity: processes are streamlined allowing users to take action with limited steps
- Aesthetically–pleasing: users not only enjoy the experience more but are comfortable and confident when the visual presentation is appealing and engaging
- Intuitive: users become adept more quickly with a product or service if the user-experience patterns are familiar and the learning curve builds on a previous knowledge base
- Accessible: can integrate on multiple platforms without any loss of usability or engagement, can be connected to regardless of location or setting, and is usable by anyone
Conversely, a professional–grade experience — which enterprise software historically has been — is one in which the technical requirements demand training, onboarding and immersion before the product can be operated and adopted to its full potential. It’s not opened and mastered instantly.
And that’s for a very good reason: Enterprise software is incredibly complex! Perhaps one day navigating an enterprise system responsible for operating a supply chain — to pick one example — will be as direct as ordering a pizza from your phone, but until then there’s a level of sophistication impossible to ignore.
Enterprise software has to handle enormous loads of data and integrate information across a sprawling network of systems, applications, people and channels. The complex nature of what’s required in an enterprise operation could only — until relatively recently — be properly addressed with complicated, professional-grade developers tools.
In short, enterprise applications were previously used begrudgingly, out of necessity to perform tasks no consumer grade software could handle. That has changed.
The shift toward user choice of software within enterprise companies
The evolution of enterprise software reflects how powerfully digital transformation has impacted the way these applications are bought, integrated and updated. The early days of enterprise software was marked by a top-down approach: software was purchased by the C-suites and pushed onto employees to learn and use, regardless of whether they liked or benefitted from the user experience at all.
As enterprise software has evolved and expanded over the past decade, so has the decision-making process for choosing software. The top-down approach has been upended as companies have realized a powerful truth: if users, customers, and teams don’t like an app ‘s user experience or software, if it’s not intuitive, responsive and accessible, they will not fully embrace it. That can result in an avalanche of squandered time, stunted collaboration and diminished productivity.
Adoption is key to productivity and organizational success and reduces the risk of people going to “shadow IT” (unsanctioned and possibly risky technology) to get work done. The users, once an afterthought in choosing enterprise software, are now the ones driving adoption and looking for systems that include the dynamic user capabilities of a consumer-grade experience.
Take enterprise messaging tools, for example. Often, they were not pushed upon individuals by higher-ups. They were selected and requested — demanded even — by teams who had either tried it for themselves or heard about it through word-of-mouth and were convinced it could improve workflow communication for their company.
Why consumer–grade UX is essential for mission critical apps
Enterprise companies are aiming not just for peak performance but to establish and enhance their reputation for strategic leadership. And rightfully so. Gaining an edge in hyper-competitive industries is about productivity, sure, but it also hinges on continual innovation and internal cohesion that only an engaged and connected workforce can achieve.
Nurturing those qualities includes giving developers app platforms and software that they can master quickly and build seamlessly with.
Finding a comprehensive platform that can create digital experiences across all channels with a consumer grade user interface can improve critical areas of need:
- A productivity boost from development tools such as low code that speed up app delivery for professional developer and empower less experienced developers or business users to problem solve on their own
- Simplified integration of data that connects systems and processes easily — and can foster collaboration
- A bottom-up innovation pipeline which empowers designers by giving them software they like rather than software they merely tolerate
- A fully realized modern approach to app design that fuses the capabilities of enterprise software with the engagement power of consumer grade experience
- Embedded security that protects against system compromises and attacks
Give your workforce a platform that lets their design talent flourish without sacrificing any of the integration, scaling or security demands of an enterprise system. Give them a consumer grade experience on a professional level.
In order to bring a product or service to light and do this for hundreds — or even millions — of users, you need to empower your developers to provide beautiful, meaningful, and innovative experiences and engage and interact with your users in new ways. The last great experience a consumer has is the one they expect next.
You need serious tools with serious capabilities. HCL Volt MX is an industry-leading low-code app-dev platform that empowers professional developers, enterprise architects and digital designers to rapidly deliver consumer-grade apps. HCL Volt MX lets you build, deploy and deliver beautiful, powerful, consumer-grade experiences and applications the way you want.