User Experience in the Enterprise, and why it matters!
IT Departments in today’s enterprise are consistently being asked to do more with less. But how do you accomplish such a feat? One of the often overlooked areas is that of user experience. Bad user experience can cause employee frustration and it costs money in ways not initially thought of. Lost employee productivity hours, increased helpdesk calls, cost of mistakes in financials. Microsoft’s platform today offers both designers and developers a chance to speak the same language. The result is increased end user satisfaction, loyalty, and cost savings to IT.
Over the past several years, I lived the life of an Enterprise Developer. The technologies changed, the people I worked with changed, even the industries were different, but one thing remained the same. IT was always asked to do more with less.
There are numerous ideas floating around that were created to address this. A lot of them target the process of project management, and indirectly the process of software creation. Some look more towards consolidation: data centers, websites, and redundant applications. Others look to leverage resources outside of their own domain; whether this is the physical hardware (Servers, Network Storage) or the services these applications consume (Web Services, RSS Feeds). As an Enterprise Developer I was often involved with a lot of these. My projects involved moving business logic into tiers that could be hosted on servers outside our own walls. I would automate complex systems, reducing redundant computer processes or help link systems together via Web Services to better consolidate.
But there was always one area I felt was overlooked: User Experience, or UX. Looking back now it seems so obvious of a solution why did no one see it? One of the biggest costs for IT is usually the ongoing support of their applications. Whether this is the administration of such applications or the end user support of a word document the end result is the same: people. At the end of the day people are the ones who run our systems, and people are the ones who use it. But people are often overlooked when it comes to planning a project. It was a rare occasion for me to be on a project where the User Experience actually had requirements in the project.
"My belief is that one of the most significant reasons for the failure of organizations to develop new software products in-house is the absence of anything that a design professional would recognize as an explicit design process," from Bill Buxton’s book, Sketching User Experience.
Good User Experience can be an area of great cost savings and it has other benefits as well which we will discuss
More to come, stay tuned!