Objectively, the rate of progress in Information Technology over the last couple decades has been breathtaking. However, it’s only if we take a step back can we get a subjective perspective on the extremes of the changes (if you are of an age that recalls a time pre-desktop computer, then you might argue this). In contrast, our processes and behaviors at work haven’t changed all that much over the years. To illustrate this, it’s worth noting that while Office 365 (and by proxy SharePoint Online) is Microsoft’s fastest growing product of all time, SharePoint 2013 is the most widely used version of the platform.
Recently, at Ignite 2016, Microsoft MVP Andrew Connell interviewed harmon.ie CEO, Yaacov Cohen about what it means to ‘humanize’ our technological advances and in doing so make our working lives easier and more productive.
Our post today takes a look at how the human side to IT needs to be considered in business, especially in an age when tech has the potential to change so rapidly.
“At harmon.ie, humanizing IT in general—SharePoint in particular—is among the central pillars of our approach to technology design,” says Yaacov. “For too long, enterprise software has been built with a focus on functionality first, and user experience (UX) second. However, experience shows that this often results in poor quality tools that users hate, avoid using and, overall, a wasted investment.”
harmon.ie have always focused on putting people at the heart of their technology. We’ll take a look at why this is essential to the future of enterprise tech.
‘Humanizing’ IT is the idea of making sure the technology we use is integrated into our lives as seamlessly as possible, amplifying the best of our strengths and human nature
Stimulating behavioral change
For harmon.ie, the vision that permeates all our solutions has to do with bringing the cloud and SharePoint together into the ‘business user comfort zone’. For Yaacov:
“this is about stimulating a behavioral change in business users. At present, technology users tend to be asked (or in many cases, forced) by technology to change the way they behave and interact with software. By contrast. human-centered IT is about making it much easier for individuals to adapt and make the tech fit around them.”
Let’s explore this change in more detail. As Yaacov points out:
“in the last few years, there has been a shift in IT where users are moving from an almost private experience with technology in business to a more collaborative approach. Such an approach has plenty of benefits, yet it still jars with many users. The way people have traditionally been taught to interact with information technology over the years has been in a very individualist, personal manner.”
Just looking at some of the terms and we can get a sense of what that means:
- “My documents”
- “My inbox”
- “My calendar”, etc.
However, what users have begun hearing in the last few years is to forget about personal computing because ‘the future’ is all about shared, social computing. A shift like this is jarring to many users, some of whom have built their careers on processes and practices that are now changing. They’re being asked to share documents, knowledge and other types of content which was previously ‘personal’.
harmon.ie has taken on the role of making adaption to this change as simple and as smooth as possible. Let’s look at a couple of ways we’re doing this:
- Instant access to tools from a user’s central hub
One example of how harmon.ie is helping the shift in user behavior is by email client. The harmon.ie plug-in for Outlook creates a toolbar within the email client that provides instant access to SharePoint, the Office 365 productivity suite and Skype for Business, all without having to leave Outlook.
- Treating email how users want to treat it
Email is just another type of document and should be treated thus. However, important emails can get lost in the tide of messages that we send and receive every day, but with harmon.ie’s email management solution, users can easily store emails of note from Outlook directly to SharePoint. Working across all instances of the platform, be it on-premises, online or hybrid, users can drag and save documents and other content from emails into a shared depository. These email messages automatically get mapped with SharePoint metadata making them easy to find later. This helps keep exchanges well organized, retaining knowledge simple and, above all, making user collaboration as straightforward as possible.
- Bringing information direct to users
The theory behind harmon.ie’s solutions is to bring SharePoint to users instead of the other way round. Better document management within Outlook is a big step forward for moving on from this traditional “My documents” computing culture to something more shared and collaborative. Another example of harmon.ie’s efforts to help the shift in user behavior is through the latest IT solution, Collage. Collage combines a user’s important topics contained in emails, documents, social media messages and other business apps into one easy to view thread. This way a user’s information gets organized by topics, so all of a sudden every email you’re getting can be sorted into topics with tags. It’s connected to Office 365 so you can see all the topics in the email related to your documents and communication threads.
- One window access to productivity tools
harmon.ie’s tools provide all the user’s information in the Outlook window so you don’t have to worry about jumping between different apps or clients.
In this age of information overload and quickly changing processes, business users need to be given as much help as possible. At harmon.ie we strive to enable your users to focus on what matters most, in a way that’s most collaborative and most importantly, humanizing.
To find out how harmon.ie can help assist your business stimulate a behavioral change in user behavior and cultivate a more collaborative approach to business process, get in contact today. You can also follow Yaacov for more thought leadership and business insights here.