Enterprise & The Coming of Age for Design

  • 9 min Read

In this era of instant gratification, consumers have incredibly high expectations of technology. Effortless. Intuitive. On demand. While these high expectations are pushing enterprise to develop new technology at an outrageously rapid pace, the most critical aspect of consumer satisfaction and ROI lies in the user experience (UX) design. UX design has the single largest impact on almost every industry as well as the way in which we live our lives. The experience can no longer be an afterthought; it must be the driving element in creating next level products.

This being said, enterprise needs to embrace UX design to launch it from a single component of product development to the top priority of all initiatives. Just like today’s consumer products; enterprise can (and should) be sexy, too.

It is absolutely necessary that enterprise make this leap to remain relevant and operational.

Here’s the breakdown: how a person feels when interfacing with a system trumps even the most innovative technological advancements. Enterprise software has struggled to keep up with the trend, with large organizations often providing painstaking experiences to their user. The old-school way of software development consisted of engineers receiving user-stories, and later building from those to accommodate users’ needs to the best of their abilities. Considerations for the entire product were rarely considered, and developers were inconsistent, resulting in a subpar experience. This lead to a disconnected, unoptimized, outdated, clunky, confusing and utterly unacceptable experience. This is why attentive and tactful UX design changes the game.

UX design hinges on a variety of components including effortless use, utility, efficiency in performing tasks and a profound understanding of the product’s value. Since today’s digital products have become so multifaceted, outstanding user experience design is necessary to be effective. John Maeda, Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins, also believes this to be true. “Technology used to be the only reason you’d buy a high-tech gadget. It used to be that only a few people could make these things. But now everyone can. So design has become a differentiator. It’s the reason you’ll buy something.”

Refining the UX design contribution is vital to the Internet of Things (IoT). The key is to develop strategy prior to technology. Dysfunctional or disconnected decision making starts the path to ineffective or chaotic attempts at updating and improving technology within an organization.  Synergy is necessary in strategy. With beacons, sensors, mobile devices, wearables, computers talking to computers, constant analysis on data, automated systems, predictive software, pervasive systems, IoT could be considered the most exciting thing since the Industrial Revolution.

According to Jacob Morgan of Forbes.com, the IoT allows for virtually endless opportunities, many of which we can’t even fully comprehend the impact of today. Besides the infinite possibilities for integrated technology, companies will need to figure out a way to store, track and analyze the overflowing amounts of data that will be generated. A 2014 EMC Digital University Study states, “Due, in part, to this Internet of Things, the digital universe is doubling in size every two years and will multiply 10-fold between 2013 and 2020 – from 4.4 trillion gigabytes to 44 trillion gigabytes.”

Where does Big Data fit into this? Big Data will have a major impact on enterprise. The uninterrupted  stream of data coming from IoT is creating data at faster speeds than ever. Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, has become a major trend in enterprise, as users are expecting streamlined quality solutions for all of their needs.

This has put an increasing pressure on enterprise, requiring large organizations to step up their game. And where does security fit into all of this? Think about it. With an influx of technology flooding the market and employees using their own devices at work, security is compromised without proper infrastructure in place. Though, if corporations can put the burden of hardware purchases on their workforce, there will be tremendous cost savings. This is why companies cannot afford to remain in the past without adapting to the endlessly updating technological future.

Through team building and evolving design principles, enterprise software has to change. Knowing your mission is key. In 2011, Accomplice’s own Ben McCraw was invited to speak to executives at PepsiCo about user-centered design and the importance of building for the user. He explained that it is no longer acceptable to simply expect users to use what they were given. Every product they built, internally or externally, should be a part of a larger connected strategy. Each user flow and interaction should be intelligently architected with the business goals, and user’s behaviors in mind. While this is all fairly basic, Ben was surprised by how many senior executives were new to the concept of building for the user. Many expressed that they had always been in an environment where developers would receive tasks, and build to them, without asking questions. Then, in 2012, PepsiCo hired their first Chief Design Officer, Mauro Porcini. And while Ben has no delusions that he had anything to do with PepsiCo’s decisions to put more of a focus on design, he was very delighted to see this investment in their future. Every company with an expectation of survival needs to transition into this mindset.

So how does UX design, IoT and the consequence of Big Data impact the BYOD trend? The BYOD and enterprise software market is expected to increase from $72 billion to $284 billion by 2019. Apple and IBM earlier this year announced a potentially market-shaping partnership for mobile enterprise applications and services. CIOs now have the demand of customer-facing and internal-employee initiatives, where they traditionally only focused on internal infrastructures, leaving customer-focused task to the CMO. Moving forward, the two need to be thought of as one in the same. There should be no difference between a consumer’s experience and an employee’s experience. This is not rethinking a portion of the company, but thoroughly preparing the entire company for the future.

Executives have to be willing to embrace change and integrate solutions that will constantly drive enterprise towards the future. They must develop and communicate a strategic vision for leveraging digital technology, accelerate decision making on opportunities and challenges, and build for the future by enabling speed, adaptability and collaboration across functions. Think big. Decision makers, designers and developers have to understand how work gets done within an organization, and how business interconnects with other enterprises, partners and customers. User-centered design must lead the charge, and executives should integrate high capacity, scalable storage systems, real-time streaming, big data analytics, new data security and privacy frameworks. A CIO must look forward, predict needs and set trends. The investment and transition will be painful, but it is no longer optional. Daniel Burrus from Wired Magazine says, “(It) is not merely about creating savings within current industry models. It’s about upending old models entirely, creating new services and new products.”

The bottom line? It is absolutely necessary that enterprise make this leap to remain relevant and operational. As product builders, it is important to understand how work gets done within an organization and how business interconnects with other enterprises, partners and customers. We have to remember how information flows through the enterprise and how building user-centered products within a holistic digital strategy helps enterprise survive. The results will be useful, relevant, user-centered products working together in harmony to achieve business goals. Without this transformation, organizations will undoubtedly fail.