Monday, October 15, 2007
Enterprise applications: good design is key to usability and user productivity
Innovations in consumer technology and Web 2.0 are shaping the expectation for the business applications of the future. This is set to continue with new levels of usability expected in the workplace by the “i-generation”, based on their experience of the intuitive nature of Google, iPods, mobile phones, games consoles and social networking sites. Organizations need improved business application usability to retain and motivate staff, and the enhanced user productivity that these innovations can unlock for global business.
A recent survey by IFS asked IT decision makers* to define what they actually meant by business software usability. Nearly half (45%) said software usability was simply when a product helped them do their job better and faster. This was followed by 30% who said usability meant there should be no need to read a manual. Yet when asked to rate their business software, 95% felt current applications were more difficult to use when workers moved beyond basic usage.
“It is clear that up to now the focus of enterprise applications has been in automating existing processes, with vendors then adding more and more functionality—to the extent that users of systems can now feel overwhelmed. At IFS we are focusing on bringing good design to the world of business software to deliver the enhanced usability that people increasingly expect based on their home use of the internet and consumer electronics,” said Peter Robertshaw, IFS’ Global Marketing Director.
Respondents were also asked to highlight the biggest timewasters they find in today’s business applications. Topping the list was when different modules worked in different ways (29%), then the difficulty in transferring data from one application to another (16%), followed closely by the complexity in searching for and finding the information needed (15%).
Web applications are currently deemed the most intuitive with 40% citing them top, followed by email systems favored by 23%.
During enterprise application selection 47% had seriously considered usability, 36% had concentrated on other factors such as functionality and price, and 17% felt they could train their way out of any usability gap.
“Improved usability comes from ergonomic design and “mashing up” elements like business processes, intuitive navigation, web services, embedded enterprise search and integrated office applications whose data has traditionally been outside a company’s formal business processes,” said Dan Matthews, IFS CTO. “With global supply chains and extended business networks, companies are exposing more of their systems outside the walls of their own organization. Couple this with more demanding entrants to the workforce and home workers increasingly needing to be self-sufficient, then the business applications of the future must apply good design principles to deliver enhanced usability and, through this, increased user productivity.”
Notes to editors
* The survey was carried out amongst 100 IT decision makers in the UK. These were not IFS customers.
IFS (OMX STO: IFS), the global enterprise applications company, provides ERP solutions which enable organizations to respond quickly to market changes. The solutions allow resources to be used in a more agile way to achieve better business performance and competitive advantage.Founded in 1983, IFS has 2,600 employees worldwide. With IFS Applications™, now in its seventh generation, IFS has pioneered component-based ERP software. The component architecture provides solutions that are easier to implement, run and upgrade. IFS Applications is available in 54 countries in 22 languages.IFS has over 600,000 users across seven key vertical sectors: aerospace & defense; automotive; manufacturing; process industries; construction, contracting & service management; retail & wholesale distribution, and utilities & telecom. IFS Applications provide extended ERP functionality, including CRM, SCM, PLM, CPM, enterprise asset management, and MRO capabilities.