Game on for enterprise apps. 3 ways to transform the UX for your EX (Employee Experience).

Image: Shaun McKenna

Improving employee experience is far more than simply replacing paper and web-based procedures with enterprise apps. Organisations are being challenged by their employees to leverage technology to improve the employee experience.

Yet, to a greater extent, we’re seeing businesses consistently fail in their attempts to captivate and engage their workers. 
 
Why?

Because businesses aren’t tapping into the very factors that create an engaging user experience that staff are expecting.

Are you REALLY mobile?

Unsurprisingly, Adobe Digital Index found that over 90% of respondents consider their smartphones to be their primary device.

And yes, we’re seeing companies ensure their enterprise apps are accessible via an employees’ personal device.

But it’s just not enough.

Ask someone how many minutes they’ve been on Facebook and they’ll under estimate it by 10 minutes. Ask that very same person, how long they’ve been on Sharepoint and they’re likely to overestimate it by 10.

So, why does time fly when using a social app but drag when using a work platform?

Essentially, it’s because social apps are focused on entertainment and immersing users in a total experience.

And with millennials estimated to make up over 50% of the workforce by 2020, demand for online work tasks to be enjoyable will rise to an influential rate. According to ArcTouch’s 2017 report, only 12% of office workers in the U.S. were using apps provided by their company. Organisations must aim to delight and enchant their staff if they want to retain top talent.

Here’s three (3) ways for businesses to improve the UX design of enterprise apps:

1. Augment their Reality

With the new IKEA Place app, the potential of augmented reality (AR) has been introduced to a worldwide audience. Moving virtual objects in the physical world has captivated consumers, familiarising them with the technology and activating latent desire.

IKEA Place, uses AR to access the product catalogue and position items in the consumers’ own home.

Why should organisations incorporate AR technology for the design of enterprise apps?

According to business strategist Michael Porter, AR is increasing work productivity- while at the same time engaging and helping to retain staff.

“Complicated 2-D schematic representations of a procedure in a manual, for example, become interactive 3-D holograms that walk the user through the necessary processes.”

Boeing is currently using AR to train staff with aircraft assembly. The use of AR has decreased the training time by 35%, yet significantly increased learning- with 90% of staff (with minor to zero previous experience) more likely to finish fabrications correctly.

It makes sense ⎯ 3D holograms are far superior to a paper manual ⎯ displaying instructions directly onto the machine, simplifying the steps and reducing cognitive load.

The ability for businesses to access AR technology through iPhones and iPads is a game changer. Now native apps can harness this inbuilt capability without specialised hardware.

AR utilised for enterprise apps.

2. Let context rule the roost

It’s important to get it right, in the right context at the right time.

Consumer app design teams know the value of customer research. However, businesses all too often, skip the research component and go straight to prototyping, thinking ‘we know what we need in our business’.

In his book The Future of Work, Jacob Morgan identifies how issues can occur when IT teams make technology decisions for the whole of the company.

“Companies are seeing a flurry of new technology deployments that they are essentially powerless to stop! Employees are taking matters into their own hands.”

When the design and development of enterprise apps are completed without speaking to staff across the business, uptake can be slow and the solution convoluted.

“The digital medium allows us to completely transform and effectively ‘re-wire’ how value gets exchanged, how work gets done and how the underlying processes get conducted.”

-Nicholas Evens

If the technical solution doesn’t solve the problem, employees will find their own workarounds, either with patch jobs or by accessing other cloud-based software resulting in a poor ROI for the business and an increase in risk if the cloud solution is insecure.

For organisations to maintain central control of their work processes and ensure employees actually use their internal enterprise apps, it’s critical IT teams dedicate time for research with end users.

Testing prototypes is also a necessary step for ensuring the app works for the specific context required.

“Users provide valuable insights to new product development teams at the front end of the innovation process.” (Thota & Munir 2011)

Providing innovative ways to perform basic tasks, in a way that makes sense to your staff is a valuable investment. Yet, if you don’t listen, employees will do it their way, eliminating any value you originally perceived.

3. Swipe it, shake it, sense it

Don’t fall into the trap of designing a digital version of a broken paper system. Just because it’s a work task doesn’t mean it has to look or feel like a work task.

In his book, Mastering Digital Business, Nicholas Evens describes how we can rethink our processes and take advantage of opportunities for innovation when moving from analogue to digital.

“The digital medium allows us to completely transform and effectively ‘re-wire’ how value gets exchanged, how work gets done and how the underlying processes get conducted.” (Evens 2017).

Animations can be built into your native iOS app as a valuable way to counteract a static screen, quickly convey information and synthesise content.

Example of a custom task animation. Courtesy of FAVES app, designed by https://www.linkedin.com/in/jess-hooper/ and https://www.linkedin.com/in/philcooley/

Opportunities for functional animation are endless when designing enterprise apps, here are some prime examples:

· Swipe based tactics: Referencing familiar social application user interfaces, incorporating swipe-based stacks will earn you street cred with employees. Allowing staff the capacity to quickly ‘tap, drag, flick or swipe’ information with their fingers reduces cognitive load and saves time on accessing and eliminating information.

· iPhone/iPad’s inbuilt features: By tapping into existing features, such as iPhone’s subtle phone shake when you enter an incorrect password or the click of the date/time wheel, you offer staff an immersive experience.

· Custom task animations: Interesting ways for buttons to pop or rotate incorporate gamification and reduce the ‘task-like’ feeling of the action.

· Reward visuals: Reward employees at the end of a task with an unexpected congratulatory animation. It sounds minor, but this type of fun feedback speaks miles to your millennial staff and demonstrates you value their achievements and speak their language.

When you develop enterprise apps that are more entertaining and engaging, respond to the direct needs of your staff and better utilise available technology, you’ll empower your staff to work smarter- increasing your competitive advantage. It’s a smarter business investment.

REFERENCES

  1. Driving Competitive Advantages With Enterprise Mobile AppsAdobe’s 2016 Enterprise Mobile Apps Report, October 2016, https://blogs.adobe.com/digitalmarketing/tag/enterprise-mobile-apps-report/
  2. Make IT Delightful, and Other Ways to Enchant Your Employees, https://hbr.org/2016/02/make-it-delightful-and-other-ways-to-enchant-your-employees
  3. The Productivity Payoff of Mobile Apps at Work, https://hbr.org/2014/11/the-productivity-payoff-of-mobile-apps-at-work
  4. A Survey of 3,000 Executives Reveals How Businesses Succeed with AI, https://hbr.org/2017/08/a-survey-of-3000-executives-reveals-how-businesses-succeed-with-ai
  5. The Employee Experience Advantage: How to Win the War for Talent by Giving Employees the Workspaces They Want, the Tools They Need, and a Culture They Can Celebrate, https://www.amazon.com/Employee-Experience-Advantage-Employees-Workspaces/dp/111932162X
  6. Mastering digital business: how powerful combinations of disruptive technologies are enabling the next wave of digital transformation, https://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Digital-Business-Combinations-Transformation/dp/1780173628
  7. The future of work: attract new talent, build better leaders, and create a competitive organization, https://www.amazon.com/Future-Work-Attract-Competitive-Organization/dp/1118877241
  8. A Study of Enterprise Mobile App User Experience,

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