We all know that the business world runs on software, but we often fail to recognize how business software runs over some users. As workers everywhere continue to adopt new applications, many have had difficulty mastering the workflows and using them effectively alongside other tools and applications. Users who cannot fully deploy their applications can never realize the true value of the software, preventing them from reaching their own full potential on the job.
A rise in the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend has further challenged IT and security managers to undergo a rapid digital transformation while maintaining user privacy and protecting company data. Additionally, ever since the widespread shift from shared offices to home offices and remote workplaces, many software users have found themselves lacking adequate support from IT and help desk teams.
To make matters worse, all software users are unique people who come from widely different backgrounds with individual skill sets and needs, yet most software products come standardized right out of the box or out of the cloud. This disconnect causes many users to struggle with software adoption. When things do not operate smoothly, they often have trouble finding support when they need it, which can cause many to move on to other tasks or just give up.
Effective collaboration is another area affected by an influx of new apps that workers need to learn. After several unpleasant software experiences, employees may become dissatisfied, which lowers their productivity and reduces the overall value provided by the software. This frustrated workforce usually drives up IT support costs while leading to employee turnover.
Giving Users the Contextual Support They Need
The path out of this technical maze involves a growing movement known as software userization, which is gaining traction among many business software customers. Userization puts the focus squarely on software users, not their applications.
A userization strategy incorporates capabilities for contextual guidance and real-time user support directly within applications, making it simple and intuitive for people to work across their suite of business apps and the specific business tasks and processes that are customized to different business units and roles.
As with most horizontal enterprise software, the technology is powerful but requires companies to take a thoughtful, strategic approach to how they drive business outcomes and achieve goals from it. That leads to complex processes and workflows that are built internally, leading to poor user experiences, a lack of documentation or support, low adoption, and unclear success metrics.
Consider an enterprise CRM. While its out-of-the-box onboarding and guidance may include support on how to create a basic lead, every enterprise has heavy customizations on the required fields and data formats end-user sellers are supposed to enter, as well as the automations that occur when the sellers add in this data. Contextual guidance through userization provides support on the workflows and customizations built for specific enterprise use cases, powering better outcomes.
A userization approach provides interactive guidance, real-time support, reminders and contextual nudges to help users without taking them out of their workflows. The benefits of a userization approach include an average 3X faster time-to-proficiency among new software users, a 40 percent increase in overall adoption of key software features, and a 20 percent improvement in data quality and compliance, leading to a significant reduction in operational overhead.
Many industries have evolved over the years to customize more products and services for their customers. A few examples include uniquely tailored insurance policies, home entertainment packages, and airline rewards perks. It is time for the software industry to take a cue from that kind of consumer-centricity to raise its own level of customization. Userization helps maximize the benefits of software functionality, regardless of each user’s computer background or technical prowess. The ultimate goal of userization is to simplify complex technical steps with clear guidance that makes sense to each user, based on their unique capabilities.
Adapting Software to Users, Not Users to Software
Software applications should not make it harder for users to take necessary actions and collaborate with each other. We are fortunate that new artificial intelligence engines can help organizations sort through large groups of employees to reveal the repeated patterns of user behaviors within applications. These smart analytics tools classify shared cohorts as similar groups of software users and thus develop more contextual software experiences tailored to each unit. Users can be classified based on their outcome-based or role-based technology experiences.
For instance, the system might generate helpful prompts that are uniquely tailored for users in sales and marketing, product development, customer support or HR. By increasing enablement in this way, userization helps to drive overall software adoption. Based on each user’s unique situation, the technology advises users to alter their behaviors to achieve desired outcomes. Depending on a person’s job role and department, this could involve updating business processes, ramping up sales growth or bringing new products to market.
Users can understandably get confused by the multiple differences between various software platforms, each of which requires a unique interface and separate prompts for learning and collaboration. It doesn’t help that tech companies are notorious for spouting unclear industry buzzwords, baffling jargon and plenty of acronym soup.
We should think of userization as a soothing antidote to all this complexity—a kind of interactive guidance platform that merges software interfaces and experiences into one unified process that helps users feel more confident in their jobs. By streamlining the software experience to be simpler and more user-friendly, userization can greatly enhance business productivity and increase employee satisfaction.