It’s time for enterprise software to catch up

An old touchscreen cashier screen

We live in a world where digital has completely changed the way we interact with just about every major industry. From booking our travel, airfare and hotels online to calling a cab and ordering pizza from an app on our phone.

And design and usability are at the heart of it.

We could go on for days on how digital has transformed consumer facing products and services, but what’s more interesting is what can be done with the less shiny, behind the scenes business platforms that seem to be mostly ignored by the design driven world mentality.

Last month we published an article on the value of design in custom business platforms. The moral of the story was that well designed, easy-to-use internal software leads to a better employee experience, which in turn leads to a better culture, higher employee retention rates and a happier workplace. That’s a lot of positives.

Why is enterprise software so bad?

So why is it that I can still peek over at my local cashier’s computer screen only to see what looks to be an early prototype of Pong?

Good question. Here are a few possible answers:

1. It’s enterprise, it’s supposed to be difficult.

The first and hopefully most likely answer is that companies have no idea this is an issue. Enterprise software has never been known for its ease-of-use, and until we educate otherwise businesses and organizations won’t know any better. Luckily for us, modern technology has made the design and development of custom business platforms much more feasible and cost effective than it was ten years ago.

2. We didn’t realize the potential of well designed internal software.

The second possible answer is that companies don’t realize they should spend an equal amount of effort on internal digital products and services as external ones. It’s really obvious that spending money on well designed and easy to use outward facing websites is a positive for any business. It’s not as obvious that spending money on internal business platforms will create a better workplace experience and save time and money in the long run.

3. We understand, but we don’t care!

Lastly, some businesses might completely understand the value in good internal software, but don’t care enough about the people doing the work to act on it. I like to think this isn’t ever the answer, but it is. The problem with these companies is that the time and money saved by cutting corners on internal software is lost 10x in productivity and morale over the long-term.

To summarize

What all three of these possible answers have in common is that the businesses and organizations behind them are missing out on a great investment for their workforce. We should take some of the time and effort we’re putting towards marketing websites and email campaigns, and put it towards our less shiny, internal software as well.

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