In a recent interview with TechWeek Europe, I proposed that we are currently at the threshold of a major shift in the technology we use in the enterprise content management space.

The last ten years have seen a complete revolution in the consumer web—from Facebook and Twitter to e-commerce on your mobile devices—and the next ten years will see a newer era of enterprise technology.

There are a number of parts to this change, as the technology we use in our business lives evolves. In this series of three blog posts, I’ll cover the major elements that will bring about this shift.

Shifting gears without grinding

Let’s talk about usability and the fact that user experience will become increasingly important in enterprise software, as part of the “consumerization of IT”.

The crusade led by Apple to make technology a pleasure to use, rather than frustrating for people, is now standard practice in the consumer software space, but sadly, far from the norm for the enterprise technology software we have to use at work. We are all familiar with this problem: a user interface that looks like it was designed by a programmer (not a designer) back in the 1990s and requires a series of training courses for even the most basic use. Imagine if you had to go on a training course before you could use Facebook; it would never have gotten off the ground.

The rise of cloud applications allows business units to buy enterprise technology software directly without the need to invest in IT infrastructure, or to involve IT at all. Ease of use is a key selection criteria for these buyers, which is in sharp contrast to traditional IT procurement. Business users expect the kind of intuitive software they are used to in their personal lives to be available in their work lives, and they are getting it with or without IT’s blessing.

The emergence of “shadow IT” is causing real headaches within many organizations, as business users often choose consumer-grade applications without regard for the security implications. But it’s not just the threat of shadow IT that will force the CIO to put good user experience on the “must-have” list when procuring software. It’s also the realization that user adoption is a key success criteria for enterprise technology software rollout. Software that no one uses is very poor value for money and clearly fails to solve any business problem. Of course, enterprise software should no longer be considered fit for purpose if users hate using it. And such software will not be able to survive commercially ten years from now.

SharePoint disappoints

SharePoint is probably the leading example of such “shelfware”. It’s often procured by IT without the end user in mind, may or may not get rolled out fully, and rarely sees enthusiastic end-user adoption. Forrester recently released a survey of CIOs and business managers that revealed the chasm between IT’s expectations and business manager’s expectations when it came to SharePoint implementations. While SharePoint met the expectations of almost three quarters (72%) of IT departments, business managers were less impressed, with only 59% saying that it met their expectations—ouch!

In addition more than half of IT decision makers and business managers surveyed fully admitted they were not seeing the level of user adoption they anticipated (54%) and that users did not like using the tool (51%).

The days of enterprise technology software that IT buys but users hate are numbered. Many traditional offerings are failing to meet the expectations of the modern enterprise as the survey also revealed that they fail to be social, mobile, or cloud based—more on this in my next post.

Times have changed and there is no value in deploying enterprise technology if it is not enabling people to get their jobs done. The SharePoint calculator below will help you calculate how much SharePoint is costing you and your company. You may be surprised.

Jonathan Howell


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