The user centered revolution is happening now
|Richard Harris in Enterprise Tuesday, December 19, 2017|
When developing enterprise software, always keep the end user in mind - or else.
That's why we talked with Greg Damm, user experience leader at Jamf, to learn more about how important "making a platform that represents the user" is.
ADM: What do you mean by developing software that represents the user?
More than ever before, software is now being built with the end user in mind. This is a dramatic shift from the traditional approach to software development that focused almost exclusively on how the product functioned technically.
ADM: Is there a downside to developing software that doesn’t represent user?
Damm: If a company maintained the traditional approach to software development, they would dramatically miss the opportunity to create a user-friendly product. The end user has different needs and end goals than the machine itself. Therefore, continual use of outdated practices will hinder how users interact with their programs. This creates inefficiencies and frustration for the user that could have been avoided. Identifying the missing link between how engineers used to create software and how users want to use the product is the key to creating a successful program and happy users.
ADM: Are we in a revolution in how we develop software? How?
Damm: Yes, we are currently in a user-centered revolution. Apple spearheaded this movement in the 1980s when it took a close look at how consumers actually think about using a product. Apple looked at things like interface design, ease of use and overall desired use cases. Prior to its forward-thinking approach, technology always took precedent over user experience. Simply put, people were happy to have working software and didn’t care much about how it could be improved. Over time, the focus shifted. Now, the declining costs of technology paired with the ability to more easily provide software improvements, shifted end users to the center.
ADM: How is user choice driving this trend? Examples?
Damm: User choice is alive and well! This is most commonly seen in two main scenarios. Consumer software is the best example of how users vote with their dollars. Enterprise software, on the other hand, doesn’t often let users have a vote. Instead, a single person, who often is the head of IT, takes a look at what they believe is best for the company and subsequently adopt that technology on behalf of all the users. But even this traditional approach to acquiring technology in the enterprise is changing. More and more users are beginning to question why they can’t use certain programs or devices. Users are requesting choices, which in turn is driving the trend. We’re seeing this with Apple in the enterprise, and I have no doubts the trend will continue to spread to other industries as well.
ADM: What impact does user-centered software have on the people who use it?
Damm: When people engage with user-centered software, they save time on tasks. This makes them more productive and overall happier in their positions. Even shaving 20 seconds from something you do 40 times each day saves a significant amount of time. Increased productivity often translates into a better work/life balance. In short, providing user-centered software within an organization allows people to do what they do best without having to worry about the technology.
ADM: What impact does it have on software development? Why does this matter?
Damm: User choice is becoming the most important factor in how software is designed. I predict that in the next five to 10 years, human-centered design principles will become more prevalent in software companies. We’re already seeing this shift in User Experience. As our work evolves, it continuously focuses on the end user. This, paired with public demand for user-centric products, will largely aid in the transformation of software development from where it’s traditionally been to a future where users are at the center.
ADM: What can companies and teams do to adopt this approach?
Damm: Start thinking about the users! When you boil it down, the willingness of an organization to adopt a user-centered approach is rooted in culture. Company leadership must embrace the notion of putting users at the center and share their belief from the top down. We’re living in a time when products are more and more customized for their target consumer than ever before. As this continues, users will begin demanding products that best suit their needs. The organizations that took a proactive approach to putting users first will come out ahead of the rest. And that’s exactly where they need to be to achieve success.
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