Organisations often invest heavily in consumer-facing digital platforms in an attempt to maximise user engagement and potential sales.
However, the same attention has not traditionally been lavished on internal business applications.
But for Neil McKinnon, CEO, UXC Keystone, this is changing, as companies begin to understand the value of usability in business-to-business (B2B) application effectiveness.
“One of the biggest hurdles companies face in the implementation of an internal B2B application is employee buy-in,” McKinnon says.
“If a platform is clunky or hard to navigate, workers may use it reluctantly, or avoid using it altogether. Either way, the organisation receives a diminished return on its investment in the application, as it is not being used to its estimated potential.
“It doesn’t come as a surprise that most B2B enterprise apps are not as user-friendly as consumer apps.
“After all, the user is rarely the buyer of the technology, customisation is generally tackled with business considerations in mind rather than user needs, and the cost of switching platforms is often hefty. For consumer apps, these considerations often come first.”
As consumer applications have become more widespread and are capable of a variety of tasks, McKinnon believes there has been some drift into the enterprise.
The rise of the Bring You Own Device (BYOD) trend, in which employees use their personal hardware for business purposes, has been mirrored by a rise in consumer applications also being used for business purposes.
“The rise of BYOD has, in effect, has conditioned workers to expect consumer-grade usability for enterprise-grade applications,” McKinnon adds.
“This means that organisations need to think more about user experience when they’re designing and implementing their internal business applications, or they might end up with employees using other, consumer-facing platforms.
“Not only does this open up security issues, as the IT department loses a certain amount of visibility when consumer apps are used for business, it also means that if there is potential productivity-boosting functionality built into the corporate employee applications, it goes untapped.”
Going forward, McKinnon believes consumer-grade applications for the enterprise provide the best of both worlds.
“The new generation of powerful, easy-to-use B2B apps that are being brought online has the potential to make a real difference to the way organisations do business,” he adds.