Enterprise application , Design , ux

Designing an Enterprise Application

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What is an Enterprise Application?

Enterprise applications are the need of the hour. They do a fair bit of heavy lifting when it comes to streamlining business processes and functionalities. With remote mobility being the next frontier in enterprises & the advent of real-time knowledge transfers being instrumental in modern-day business, enterprise dependence on business applications is increasing at a rapid pace.

Enterprise applications can be categorized across a variety of platforms across corporate networks, intranets, or the Internet. Most of these apps are data heavy and are specifically designed to meet the needs of employers and employees in a multi-layer organization. To ensure data security and proficiency, enterprise apps have to maintain stringent standards for cybersecurity and administration.

Designing an enterprise app is complex and requires stitching hundreds of separate requirements together to produce a product that is functional, assistive and delightful, all at the same time. Though it sounds really easy, in practice it is an extremely gruesome process and every designer that opts to be part of an enterprise app designing process should understand in entirety the commitment, patience, and endless hours it requires.

Why should we design Enterprise Apps?

“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design” - Dr. Ralph Speth, CEO Jaguar Land Rover

A well-designed enterprise app solves the real problems of real users with the help of user research. It understands user behavior, user requirements and preferences, and pain points that existing software has not been able to address. A well-designed solution is beneficial to employees, users, and organizations at large.  

Here are the primary reasons to redesign enterprise applications and we have illustrated each point by sharing the impact and reach achieved by one of our clients called Vymo:

Competitive Advantage

Agile enterprise applications give organizations the competitive edge to outperform competition that still deploys legacy applications. A lightweight application that is well integrated across different business departments is a better tool for revenue optimization than a legacy application that slows down the pace of work. Recent research shows, 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor as a result of a poor customer experience.

Impact:

One of our clients, Vymo, within few months of launch gained a huge market share with 40 clients in its portfolio, including the largest banks and insurance companies in India such as HDFC Bank, SBI Life Insurance, Bharti AXA General Life Insurance and Infosys Finacle to name a few.

Data Optimization and Forecasting

New age enterprise applications utilize big data capabilities to unlock business insights and actionable opportunities. Most modern-day companies big and small are leveraging big data analytics to better understand the customer and build products and services that are closest to what they need.

Impact:

Vymo has been setting benchmarks and has won several awards in its field; it was recognized as the only Gartner Cool Vendor in CRM Sales from across Asia in 2017. Moreover, it was also named a notable vendor in the Gartner CRM Vendor Guide 2017 and was also shortlisted for AIR Agent App of the Year. Yamini Bhat, the co-founder & CEO of Vymo, was featured in the ET Startup Awards 2017.

Improves Efficiency

Enterprise apps are designed based on how the organization wants employees to work, not based on how employees actually work. To bridge this gap, a user-centric approach to design has to be employed. UX design can result in better and faster workflows that are easy on the users and hence improve the efficiency of the tasks they perform.

Impact:

Our client, Vymo, resulted in 30-50% higher sales within 3 months of launch.

Reduces Cognitive Load

Most enterprise apps have an excessive amount of information or data on the same screen. Most users struggle to find any information with ease. By designing the interface keeping in mind human beings’ ability to perceive and process information, we can ensure that they make fewer errors and access key information faster. Not all information is required all of the time. Context matters. UX design accounts for that.

Impact:

According to the study by the Annie data (Jan – Aug 2017) of the top 3 CRM apps, viz., Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Base,  less than 30% of the install base opened the app. However, Vymo boasts of having over 80% of the user base (over 50 – 100K) being highly active on the app.

Cost-Effective Solutions

Easy to use, intuitive interface means employees need little to no training. Also, an agile and design-driven system takes into account the scalability and technology aspects in consideration ensuring that the set-up and maintenance costs are optimized to a great extent. The cost-benefit of good UX design surpasses the investment. 

The recent research from Forrester shows that, on average, every dollar invested in UX brings $100 in return.

Higher employee satisfaction

The systems are built and sold with a promise to make the everyday life of users easier and more productive. It is absolutely essential that simplified interfaces are part of the human-computer interaction. When a digital tool is assistive rather than being burdening, users are willing to use it. 

A good software can directly impact in lowering the stress levels of employees, resulting in better productivity and improved employee satisfaction.  

Impact:

Vymo boasts of helping some of the world's largest enterprise field teams get almost 2X productivity uplift.

Challenges of Designing an Enterprise Application

UX driven enterprise apps can undoubtedly create wonders, but, the path to success is quite frankly full of hurdles and requires a lot of time from both parties, i.e., the entrepreneurs and designers. Here are some challenges that arise out of building a new enterprise application from scratch.

Cross-Platform Integration

While designing the UX for an enterprise application, all kinds of inputs are to be considered. Will the enterprise app integrate different types of processes, software, and frameworks and remain user-friendly to different employees across different verticals? It’s certainly not an easy goal to accomplish. 

Most companies buy lots of different software at the time of developing an enterprise app without bothering about integration challenges at the time of deployment. A UX designer’s primary function is to build a smooth interaction between all these frameworks.

Time-Consuming Development Process

Developing an enterprise application is a time-consuming activity because of all the moving parts. The journey from ideation to development to testing and launch could be a long and tedious process. Quantifying this change is hard especially at the start, but goal setting is important to ensure that precious hours are not wasted on unwanted processes.

Research and Research

Since an enterprise application is built to suit the needs of a wide variety of people across functions, the early stage is extremely crucial. This requires designers to spend time with the users to be able to understand the real pain points, underlying usability challenges, new opportunities while balancing the organizational goals. Second, part of research also includes understanding the marketplace, the current industry, different competitors and stakeholders objectives. Only after deriving the insights from all the above-mentioned data, designers would be able to move forward.

Lessons in Adoption

Since an enterprise application is built to suit the needs of a wide variety of people across functions, the early process of adoption is going to require initial training and lessons in building usability. Employees will need demonstrations of how the new application will make their lives better. This will include asking a lot of questions and answering many more.

Iterative Process

Designing an enterprise app is an iterative process. No one can nail down the features and usability in a single shot. The app will have to undergo several phases of design and development which will be an ongoing process depending on the complexity of the software.

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