Who will make enterprise PLM UX more user friendly?

Who will make enterprise PLM UX more user friendly?

plm-user-experience

For long time, enterprise software didn’t pay much attention to user-friendliness. I can go and bring many examples from the past 10-20 years, but assume it is probably not necessarily. Consumerization of IT, mobile devices, internet made a shift in the way people started to think about future of user interaction, user experience and application design. Interaction with user before design phase, multiple user tests, re-design sessions – this is a normal way to design for a good interaction. You need to test your application with exact behavior of your users. I found the best example of what does it  mean reading TechCrunch article on my way back to Boston few days ago – Cognitive Overhead. Interesting reading. The author is a founder of well-known app – Bump. The most amazing example for me was the fact they tested Bump on drunk people in San Fran and Palo Alto pubs. Here is the passage:

The very young and the very old are even more sensitive to cognitive overhead, as their brains aren’t accustomed to the sort of logical leaps our products sometimes require. Grandparents and children make great cognitive overhead detectors. When you can’t find old or young people, drunk people are a good approximation. In fact, while building Bump 3.0, we took teams of designers and engineers to bars in San Francisco and Palo Alto and watched people use Bump, tweaking the product to accommodate.

Enterprise software vendors these days are also thinking about the future of user friendly design and how it will impact enterprise apps. Information week article Infor bets on user friendly design to disrupt enterprise applications market speaks exactly about that:

Typically, people who decide on buying the enterprise application seldom use it. That’s why most people hate using enterprise applications. We want to get people using and accessing applications quickly, and that calls for a great user design. Social has huge relevance in this context. For example, a product called Infor Ming.le, allows employees to communicate, collaborate, and share information such as documents, plans, photos, and videos from a centralized location, with all activity captured and easily searchable.

It made me think about the problem of enterprise UX thinking and… learning. You need to learn from other people, learn trends, interact with other people working on user experience. So, what is the future of education in design and user experience? When I was looking for the answer, another article caught my attention related to the future of UX – The Top UX prediction for 2014. Interesting enough I found some answers on the future of UX design training and education. Here is my favorite passage:

Meanwhile, product design is now commonly recognized as a strategic advantage, its business impact made obvious to even the most skeptical of analysts by the success of Apple. Ironically, as companies have become more design savvy, some designers have felt marginalized when early stage, strategic product design decisions fall to business executives and product management. We are going to see more and more colleges recognizing the importance of customer service and experience in academia. A business degree, even a masters or PhD, with a specialty in customer experience design will become a new offering.

What is my conclusion? Application design is getting wide recognition among companies in all domains – consumer, enterprise, education, training. I can predict lack of educated people that can do it professionally as well as high interest in training sources focuses on product design. It will be specifically hard in such complicated domains as enterprise applications and PLM. So, who is going to be the next “Jony Ive of enterprise”? This is a good question to ask. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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  • DevonSowell

    “When you can’t find old or young people, drunk people are a good approximation.” A ridiculous generalization, an example of mindless profiling.

  • beyondplm

    Devon, thanks for the attention :). I have to say that often new things sound weird and ridiculous. However, this perception is changing within time. Just an opinion. YMMV :). Best, Oleg

  • DevonSowell

    Oleg, My Wife is a Doctor, specializing in Neuropsychology; she studies and tests the structure and function of the brain. I can state with 100% accuracy, your opinion is flawed and insulting to young & old people. I’m 61, would you equate my intelligence = to a drunk person? That’s what you are saying.

  • DevonSowell

    Oleg, My Wife is a Doctor, specializing in Neuropsychology; studies the
    structure and function of the brain. I can state with 100% accuracy,
    your opinion is flawed and insulting to young & old people. I’m 61,
    would you equate my intelligence = to a drunk person? That’s what you
    are saying.

  • I do not want to comment on the “Using of drunk people” as your user base testing however I did just want to share another article which I like from the CEO of Bump.

    http://techcrunch.com/2013/04/20/cognitive-overhead/

    I agree with majority of his philosophy that applications need to be Cognitive Aware and many of the comments he mentioned. I usually describe it as the difference of Easy and Simple. How you go about ensuring your application is Cognitive Aware is a whole different story.

    For the record I doubt Oleg would intentionally insult anyone.

  • I do not want to comment on the “Using of drunk people” as your user base testing however I did just want to comment on the article from the CEO of Bump.

    http://techcrunch.com/2013/04/20/cognitive-overhead/

    I agree with majority of his philosophy that applications need to be Cognitive Aware and many of the comments he mentioned. I usually describe it as the difference of Easy and Simple. How you go about ensuring your application is Cognitive Aware is a whole different story.

    For the record I doubt Oleg would intentionally insult anyone.

  • beyondplm

    Devon, I don’t think my quote was insulting anybody intentionally. However, if it does insult you unintentionally, my public apology.

    Getting back to software and user experience, I don’t think “intelligence” is related and important. Actually, I’d like to reference to another piece of work I admire related to user experience – Don’t Make me think! by Steve Krug. http://plmtwine.com/2010/06/07/plm-usability-notes-or-dont-make-me-think/ … IMHO, user experience focus is not how to make it “intelligent”, but how to make it “simple stupid” – this is my clear preference and this is a place where I see lots of innovation. I’d not suggest to test enterprise software with drunk people in Palo Alto bars – this is more appropriate for apps like Bump and maybe some other mobile examples…

    Again, just my opinion, no offense. Look forward to your comments.
    best, Oleg

  • Product design may have been recognized as a strategic advantage from a consumer perspective (hence the reference to Apple), but that’s not true for enterprise software, including PLM.

    Infor’s statement identifies the problem correctly: “people who decide on buying the enterprise application seldom use it” which means executives choose these products on functionality. The interface doesn’t enter into the decision. Simply making a better interface does not solve this problem, because the buyer is unchanged. The executive is still not going to use the software and make the decision instead based on functionality.

    The only way to attack this is get the executive out of the decision loop – and that means upending delivery mechanisms and pricing models entirely.

  • beyondplm

    Ed, you are right – execs are still not making decisions. However, there are few other aspects – pushing PLM apps towards C-level via mobile devices and making C-level people aware about total cost of ownership and users satisfaction. Just an opinion,of course… Oleg