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UXaaS: The Role of Discovery and Design in Great Business Applications #MWC16

Today it seems like there’s an application for everything, and the moment we find that there isn’t an app for something, we just go ahead and build it. Beyond just a reflection of our behavior as device users, what is really happening here is a glut of applications that are coming out to solve every need for every person with an app enabled device.

Whether the applications are designed to handle a single element of a larger system, like an inventory application that taps into an ERP, or an application is comprehensive, there is one thing that ultimately separates apps that are appreciated, adopted, and drive business productivity from the rest—and that one thing is user experience.

We have all heard the hyperbole around customer experience, employee experience, and how people are no longer interested in products, but rather they seek experiences. While your opinion on whether or not this is how you buy, when it comes to the workplace, the facts support this focus on user experience. Employees who find value in the mobile applications they use to help them do their jobs on a day-to-day basis are also bringing significant value back to the company. In a recent CITO study, they found that mobile adoption was driving greater than 30 percent improvement in business processes and a 23 percent increase in employee productivity. There is no way that a business can get that kind of return on the applications they use in business operations if the apps don’t overall create a better experience for employees.

So how does a business create an application that delivers on this concept of better user experience? It turns out that the process is really quite achievable but it is critical that two things that are often overlooked in app development find their way to the front and center.

  1. Discovery. Oftentimes, when an application fails to meet the mark, what really has happened is that the application team didn’t truly understand what was wanted and needed from the field (read that: from the folks who would actually be using the app). When input from users is either limited (or, in many cases, non-existent), the developers are often building from a blueprint or a use case they create, and trying to think for the user, rather than using feedback from the user to build that blueprint in the first place. Sometimes this works, but in most cases, the process for building tools that will be utilized by employees takes a true understanding that can only come from a collaborative discovery experience where the users current needs and input are integrated into the design and development process from the onset, and every step of the way.
  1. Designing for User Experience. In order to truly make an application that your users will adopt, you need to have an acute understanding of not what the user needs, but also how they will use it. The development team needs to have a thorough understanding of what happens when throughout the process for the user, and what the ultimate goal of the user is. . While much of this may be discussed in the discovery phase, the importance of great UX design cannot be overlooked. Not spending enough time thinking about UX design often results in an app that has all that your employees are asking for, but lack the user experience required to have them become widely adopted and utilized. Everything from Interaction Design Patterns, to Corporate Style Guides, to having the right Visual Design Templates can impact whether or not an application meets the desired user experience.

There is no doubt that business applications are going to pave the way for enterprises to be faster and more agile with their workforce and it’s an exciting time for IT teams working on these kinds of initiatives. As more IoT, big data, cognitive computing and other tech trends continue to drive technology forward, apps will be one of the key gateways between business information and business productivity. However, if organizations seek to design business applications that will serve their users and take their productivity to the next level, proper collaboration in the design phase and a well thought out user experience will serve as differentiation between apps that transform and apps that merely distract.

Today, business applications can be developed quickly and efficiently with tools like SAP’s Hana Cloud Platform and their business application development suite, which allows the development of business-ready applications launched and deployed to the cloud in only minutes. Hard to believe? Watch me build an application in real time at Mobile World Congress 2016. From start to finish in less than 20 minutes!

This article has been brought to you in part by the SAP Store. Please visit the SAP Store to find the latest in software and services to power your business.

photo credit: 三面高樓 via photopin (license)

Daniel Newman

After 12 years of running technology companies including a CEO appointment at the age of 28, I traded the corner office for a chance to drive the discussion on how the digital economy is going to forever change how business is done. I'm an MBA, adjunct business professor and 5x author of best-selling business books including "The Millennial CEO" and "The New Rules of Customer Engagement." Pianist, soccer fan, husband and father, not in that order. Oh and for work...I'm the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group and President of V3 Broadsuite, a family of marketing and media agencies that help companies be found, seen and heard in a cluttered digital world. I also give keynote speeches around the world on the topics such as digital transformation, technology and marketing.