At home we use beautiful, well-designed apps and websites. However, at our place of work, where we spend 5 days a week, people have become accustomed to frustrating, out of date software that they have very little choice in but to use. Now why is this? Why should we suffer at the hands of technology that quite frankly makes our blood boil?
What happens when the tools and technologies we use every day become mainstream parts of the business world? What happens when we stop leading separate “consumer” and “professional” lives when it comes to technology stacks?
In this post I will explain how the design team at Vizibl work, what we believe in, and why we think enterprise software design is so incredibly important.
When people ask me what I do for a living the conversation usually follows something along the lines of this:
Them: What do you do for a living?
Me: I’m a designer.
Them: Ooh, that’s cool, what do you design?
Me: I’m currently designing a piece of software called Vizibl. Its a platform that gives teams a single place to manage all their commercial relationships. It helps businesses drive value from their relationships and give clarity within the organisation.
Them: That sounds interesting, but what design is needed? In our company the software we use is very basic and quite templated. Do you design the promotional website?
Now, I can totally understand why they think no design is required in the software they use at work because this is all they’ve been used to. If they’ve never had any access to well-designed software then why should they expect it at work? Right?…wrong. They use beautiful software and apps on their phones, and are around lovely user experience online everyday so why should they not expect this in the workplace?
After the conversation goes back and forth for a few minutes, without a doubt the final reaction is that it’s such a great space and opportunity. Now I would like to think this is down to my refined pitching ability but I know that’s not true. The real reason is so many people can identify with the problem we are solving.
I’ve been working on Vizibl for 18 months now, and during that time I’ve been fortunate enough to get some first-hand experience with how large organisations are set up software wise and how they use (or don’t use) existing software to manage their commercial relationships.
My first impressions were of absolute disbelief. It consisted of out of date, clunky software, that no one really used. Or if they did it would be a case of getting in and out as quickly as possible, and with minimal damage (loss of time). These are pieces of software that have built up over years and years and, because the software had been baked in for so long, they become difficult to get out of despite the fact that few people actually use it. So instead of changing, enterprises in the past have just bolted on new modules through requests from frustrated employees in an attempt to make it more useful, and to get the insights and functionality they really need.
Today, new SaaS products are popping up seemingly every time you open your browser. Changing the way people live their lives. Each app offering new unique ways of making your life that bit more enjoyable/productive/meaningful.
The common trait in all these services we enjoy using is good design. Now when I say design, I don’t just mean how the product looks. I also mean how it works and feels while using it. One of the best quotes I heard around this is that great design should be invisible. If it’s makes you better and more productive at your job, and you get real value from using it but you can’t put your finger on why, I think that’s great design. Frictionless, not getting in your way but helping you on your way.
The big question, and opportunity, at the moment is why can’t we use these types of well-designed services in our daily work life. We spend over 125 hours a month sat at our desk, staring at our screen, using software that we have had no choice but to use.
The answer is we can. As opposed to 10 years ago, startups building enterprise software are now well-equipped to handle the needs of large-scale enterprises, and with the rapid increase in big data it’s just a matter of time before enterprises will need to use new software to start making sense of it all.
This is where the opportunity lies, both for the software company and the enterprise. Over the next few years you will start seeing new, better designed, smarter, more insightful platforms being introduced to the enterprise. Enterprise software design is critical for its role in making the data understandable and actionable.
At Vizibl, we have a design and technology team that has come from a consumer product and app background, so we are really excited at how we can make a big impact in the enterprise space.
Our aim is to make people better at their jobs by bringing a whole new level of insight and visibility within large organisations, all driven through great design. We spend time understanding how people work and how we can improve, or sometimes challenge, the way they work to set them on the right track.
Enterprise software design really is the next big trend, and it’s a trend that has been a long time coming. People are now being influenced and becoming more accustomed to good design, with this they are slowly coming round to the realisation that this could be, and should be possible at work. With Vizibl we think we are starting to surf a wave that is only going to get bigger and better. The enterprises that invest in new software and technology first are really going to reap the rewards sooner.
The biggest risks organisations face is in thinking the transition to a new way of working will be just that, a transition, rather than a disruption.