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Many companies are victim to a major blind spot which is causing them to unnecessarily hemorrhage productivity, profit and performance. It’s as if they are driving along a road, unaware that one of their tires is flat and triggering a huge amount of drag, wasted effort and causing them to spend more on fuel than they need to. As they struggle to reach top speeds, their competitors are cruising by. The worst thing about this situation? Just like pumping up the tire at the gas station would lead to an instant boost in speed, these companies could improve performance quickly by making one simple change.

What is this blind spot, and how can it be resolved? As is often the case, our weaknesses are staring us in the face. However, because we’re so used to them, they seem almost inevitable. How are businesses being held back, and how can they break these barriers to success?

The key to improved performance

According to the Harvard Business Review, the average person interacts with their mobile device upwards of 150 times per day. Few technological developments in history have become so ubiquitous so fast; there are now 5.2 billion mobile devices in use around the world – a dramatic rise from 80 million in 1995. What is it about mobile devices that have made them so popular?

A key factor here is User Experience. In the consumer market at least, mobile devices have become incredibly easy to use, smooth and intuitive. The manufacturers with the most attractive devices, with the most enjoyable interfaces, have come to dominate the market. While consumers have flocked to the mobile app stores – where beautifully designed tools offer them anything from taxi services to food delivery to online dating, businesses are only now waking up to the potential of great UX on internal IT systems.

For so long, employees have simply had to put up with confusing, poorly designed tools in the workplace. Why is this?

Causes of poor enterprise UX

Enterprise IT designers often seem to forget that end users – your employees – use consumer IT in their personal lives, outside of the office. They have become used to intuitive, slick designs. Nevertheless, when they come to work, they put up with confusing, disorganized systems. Why has enterprise IT lagged behind the consumer market for so long?

  • A captive audience: while in the consumer market, a bad app will mean loss of business, poor UX at work is simply imposed on employees. There is no competition so no motivation to be better.
  • Old fashioned attitudes to IT: companies still fail to grasp the power of UX. They see their workplace tools as ‘serious’ applications which don’t need to be ‘enjoyable’ or ‘engaging’.
  • Lack of awareness: many firms are simply used to their current systems and are unaware of how much better UX could be.

Companies that refuse to explore the possibility of change and improved UX are taking the ostrich position – burying their heads in the sand. Ignoring the benefits of great UX will only hurt them in the long run.

Risks of poor UX

While you may think an engaging UX is unnecessary, your competitors are sprinting ahead with improved communications, boosted productivity and happier employees. So, what are the risks of outdated UX?

  • Shadow IT: a bloated, disorganized or ugly Intranet does not attract users. Even if you invested considerable sums into you Intranet, people will not use it ‘automatically’; they need to be encouraged to do so. However, if your company file share is confusing and disorientating, employees will find alternative ways of being productive, such as using their personal email or sync and share tool – while exposing your company to security breaches.
  • Time wasted: when UX is poorly organized and confusing, users waste an enormous amount of time looking for documents and files. Employees in many companies spend up to a fifth of the working week looking for documents, and this is largely due to a poorly designed UX. When UX is designed intuitively and user-friendly this time can be dramatically reduced.
  • Training: a poor User Experience on internal IT means employees find the system hard to use. This requires extensive training, looking through manuals and asking colleagues for reminders. UX should be intuitive, obvious and ‘come naturally’ to the user.

All this time lost on poor UX equates to lost productivity, lost performance and lost profit. Because your users spend a huge amount of time simply looking for files and folders, that time isn’t spent doing their real jobs. Just as a flat tire will slow your vehicle down, poor UX on company software can have an unexpectedly large impact on productivity and eventually, your bottom line.

At harmon.ie we have designed our tools around the user with the goal of making UX as simple and intuitive as possible. For instance, harmon.ie Email introduces a simple sidebar in Outlook which connects to SharePoint within the user’s email. This means the user never needs to leave this window when uploading files and emails to SharePoint and vice versa.

UX is all about finding out how people behave, and introducing technology that fits around this. Rather than expecting your employees to adapt to outdated and clumsy systems, emphasize human focused UX and reap the benefits. Try harmon.ie Email free today, and see how great UX leads to great performance. 

 

David Lavenda
Chief Product Officer