Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: How UX is Transforming Enterprise Software

Executive's guide to the enterprise user experience (free ebook)

Today's enterprise software is focused on friendlier design and better support for a collaborative and mobile workforce, forgoing cumbersome functionality in favor of usability.

Enterprise software underpins business operations from accounting, collaboration, and customer relationship management (CRM) to enterprise research planning (ERP), human resources, and communication. Until recently, large companies routinely invested vast sums of money in monolithic packages that handled these functions -- tools that employees hated to use. Little wonder: Much of this software tended to be confusing, sluggish, and inflexible. Instead of facilitating work, it often made tasks more laborious and failed to address the business needs it was designed to support.

Now that is changing. To borrow from Peter Finch's famous tirade in the movie Network, users "aren't going to take it anymore". Innovative solutions, shifting business models, the convenience and malleability of cloud solutions, and social media have ushered in new expectations. Users want sensible, simple, intuitive design. If they can have that on their phone, why should they settle for less from the software they rely on to do their jobs?

Well-designed apps offer logical and easy navigation, intuitive features, responsiveness, flexibility, and attractive presentation. Tools that don't meet those criteria impede productivity (or kill it altogether). Users will balk and complain and walk away from an app that doesn't meet their standards. This is the spectrum of the user experience (UX) -- satisfaction and acceptance on the high end, rejection on the other.

Current research suggests that the enterprise has begun to recognize and respond to this new reality. In the latest Tech Pro Research survey, nearly two-thirds (65%) of participants said they were involved in the design and deployment or consulted about the desired functionality of new enterprise software -- quite a change from the tradition of rolling out software with little regard for the needs of those who would be using it. Even more telling, the survey showed that among those who said they'd been involved or consulted in design or deployment, 88 percent said their ideas, objectives, and desired features were taken into consideration during the enterprise software design process.

There are a lot of pieces to the enterprise software puzzle. ZDNet and TechRepublic assembled some of them in this latest free ebook to help IT and business leaders understand the increasing focus on the enterprise user experience.

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The ebook is available as a free PDF download for registered ZDNet and TechRepublic members. If you're not already a member, you can click here to register. It only takes a moment.