Enterpr*se Shouldn't Be a Dirty Word

"Enterpr*se Shouldn't Be a Dirty Word" header image

Enterprise software is unique. That’s because, typically, it’s built for a group of users who are all but guaranteed to adopt it.

And right there is where the problem begins.

Because its designers and developers don’t have to worry about their software being rejected on the open market, things like usability and flexibility that form the user experience are easy to overlook. This issue is exacerbated by the fact that enterprise software creators are typically working under a time crunch, with budgetary constraints, and within an organization’s unique and sometimes atypical legal and security concerns.

Unfortunately, this means that in the majority of cases saying “enterprise software” out loud is like cursing in an all-hands meeting—eliciting eye rolls and groans as everyone imagines clunky, outdated, unintuitive tools that cause frustration and hurt productivity.

Why has the opinion of enterprise software tanked and what can developers, designers, and businesses do to keep their software useful and competitive in the 21st century? Keep reading to find out.

Why Enterprise Became a Dirty Word When It Comes to Software

So, what exactly shifted in our culture to position enterprise software as the “dirty word” of the business world?

Well, everything did. Everything except most enterprise software, that is.

This shift has been dubbed “consumerization,” and it’s the result of technology becoming a regular part of the typical day-to-day life in the 21st century.

In 2020, Millennials will make up half of the workforce in America. Many of these workers will have grown up using consumer technology, such as smartphones and social media platforms every single day. Can they really be blamed for expecting the same level of user friendly applications at work that they experience shopping or chatting with friends on the weekends?

It’s frustrating when all their workplaces can provide are custom-built enterprise tools that were such an undertaking to build several decades ago that they haven’t been updated since. What’s worse is that outdated enterprise software only becomes slower and harder to work with as new functionality gets tacked on to “keep up with the times” over the years.

Outdated enterprise software isn’t just an annoyance for workers—it’s changing the way they work and even where they choose to work.

One poll found that 93% of Millennials said up-to-date technology was one of the most important aspects of a workplace. So it’s rather alarming that a whopping 78% "occasionally or constantly experienced delays" with workplace technology. That’s not a good sign considering that 77% of the same age group felt that "suboptimal application performance" affected their productivity and ability to do their personal best.

Illustrtion of a makeup brush with a quote about a failed Avon enterprise resource planning project

With all that in mind, we think it’s high time to turn the tides and make enterprise software desirable and delightful. Here’s what creators can do to modernize their enterprise software to empower workers in the 21st century.

4 Best Practices for Building Enterprise Software That Meets Modern Demands (With Examples!)

These four examples of modern enterprise software demonstrate key best practices designers and developers should employ to challenge the limitations of enterprise products and build technology that’s useful, usable, and maybe even a little bit delightful for end users.

1. Prioritize Usability

Enterprise software creators are lucky in that they know exactly who their users will be. By getting to know these users’ goals and gaining a deep understanding of how they interact with the technology, developers and designers can make sure their software is valuable, usable, and scalable for their ideal audience now and in the future.

You can tell this kind of thought went into creating HelloSign eSignature software for businesses large and small. A helpful guide for first-time users, as well as an array of features that are accessible via a drag-and-drop interface, make the complex technology extremely approachable even for users who are not skilled in digital technology.

Animation of the HelloSign signing experience

2. Create Interfaces That Are Smart But Simple

Hick’s Law dictates that the time it takes to make a decision increase along with the number of choices. Enterprise applications with all their unnecessary features and years of add-ons are notorious for giving users just enough useless choices to keep them from doing what they need to do effectively and efficiently.

So, while it may seem counter-intuitive, modern enterprise software actually has fewer bells and whistles. To improve their software, today’s designers and developers must understand that there can be wisdom in simplicity.

Take for example this dashboard screen from Healthagen, an analytics and advisory service provider for the healthcare industry. It uses balanced design, generous spacing, hierarchies, permissions, and other smart user experience (UX) design tactics to consolidate complex data into a smart interface that makes decisions simple.

A screenshot of the Healthagen dashboard screen

3. Keep Mobile in Mind

Mobile-friendly enterprise software is the epitome of consumerization. Most of us use smartphones to get stuff done in our everyday lives—why shouldn’t we be able to do the same at work? Especially when Gartner predicts that by 2022, 70% of all software interactions in enterprise businesses will take place on mobile devices.

Again, HelloSign provides a strong example of delivering consumer-level experiences for enterprise interactions.

The HelloSign app for both Android and iOS enables users to scan documents with their cameras so they can digitally sign a paper document——or get any kind of digital or paper document signed—anywhere, any time. This is great news for businesses that rely on mobile workforces and need to be able to create and manage NDAs, photo releases, waivers, and more in the field.

4. Implement Gamification

Gamification is the practice of adding game elements to products and/or services that are decidedly not games. It taps into that rush that many of us experience after achieving something—which is one of the best motivators there is.

And according to TalentLMS’ 2019 Gamification at Work survey, 89% of employees are more productive and 88% are happier when they experience gamification in the workplace.

While it can clearly make a positive impact on employee productivity and loyalty, gamification is hardly ever implemented in enterprise software—which gives your business an opportunity to get ahead of the curve.

Take a hint from Centrical, a gamification software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool that enables enterprise organizations to incorporate engagement and recognition and drive ideal behaviors with personal challenges, tiered competitions, and quest-based game narratives.

A user interface mockup illustrating gamification

Which of these best practices will you implement to update or create enterprise software that’s user-friendly, smart yet simple, optimized for mobile devices, and complete with motivational games and rewards?

If you aren’t ready to tackle all your tasks with in-house enterprise software just yet, we can happily recommend a place to start when it comes to automating those manual admin tasks and eradicating all that paperwork that always seems to pile up. Read up on HelloSign to see why it’s ideal for enterprise businessesand dive right into your free trial to start sending eSignatures today. You can also download our comprehensive eBook to learn all your options for deploying eSignatures to your sales team, see a comparison of key competitors in the eSignature space, and discover the key features to dig into when evaluating an eSignature solution for you and your business.

Get your sales team set-up with eSignatures illustration

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