I’m going to be blunt. Some of the best companies in the world use genuinely terrible software. It can be slow, complicated, have limited abilities, hide critical information, be boring to look at, or all of the above. All of those problems take a toll on employee morale and productivity. These are key factors that data shows to have a significant effect on overall company success.
Gallup estimates that disengaged or unhappy employees cost the U.S. economy $450 to $550 billion every year in lost productivity. Yes, that is billion with a ‘b’, meaning there are millions of employees who go to work every day and are ineffective or unmotivated. While business software is not the only cause of those problems, it is a known contributor.
Bad software can make simple tasks tedious and frustrating. Simple things like finding important documents, communicating with colleagues and finding out when company events are happening can require navigating through a labyrinth of boxes and windows and forms in the company’s software.
So why is company software built so poorly? According to Sean Nolan, a thought leader in modernizing business software and the CEO of Blink, it is the fact that software developers aren’t keeping users in mind from the beginning.
“When these programs are designed, their primary purpose is to deliver core functionalities of the business,” explains Nolan. “That is one important goal, but it does not take into account the people who have to use the software on a daily basis and the effect that non-user friendly features can have on company success.”
There are new technologies that have come into vogue in the last couple of years that are helping to rectify this issue. These technologies can be integrated into existing business software systems and drastically increase their usability and effectiveness. These are three features that business software desperately needs.
3 Features Many Business Software Solutions are Missing
An Easier Way To Search
Peter Drucker, who is regarded as the father of modern management, has been saying for decades that knowledge workers are the future of the global economy. In fact, he first coined the term “knowledge work” in his 1959 book Landmarks of Tomorrow. It follows quite logically that for knowledge workers to be effective, they must have access to information. “It is information,” Drucker wrote, “that enables knowledge workers to do their job.”
That is why buiness software should empower its employees with search capabilities. Search is already a part of our knowledge culture. When we have a question, we turn to a search engine on a smartphone and make the relevant query. But relatively few companies have the same kind of ability within their own knowledge space.
“Employees can waste countless hours looking for job critical information,” says Nolan. “But what is even worse is when they understandably become frustrated and give up. That is the real cost of hidden information and the absence of search functions.”
Search functions can and should be connected to all of the software and applications that employees regularly use. Today, these solutions come out of a box or can be customized for more specific needs.
More Effective Chat
Communication is changing. Not only is more of it digital, but it is also increasingly dynamic. Email is now one of the least effective ways of communicating, having been replaced by other channels that allow for rapid responses, chat groups and smart notification features.
The argument here is the same: information is frequently held by individuals, so for information to flow as freely as possible, communication channels need to be as efficient as possible. Much can be written about how email fails in this respect, but suffice to say that any technology that can cure the pain of seeing 1,000 unread emails in your inbox each morning is a necessary addition!
Chat is also more closely aligned to how people communicate outside of work. In its place, we regularly text, FaceTime, WhatsApp, or utilize social media networks to communicate with each other. Communication channels in the workplace need to more closely mirror those mediums.
The third and final technology upgrade on this list is bots. But these are not ordinary bots. These are smart bots that are powered by artificial intelligence (A.I.).
A.I. has been all the rage in the last year, but not nearly enough people are actually using it. Its potential is nearly limitless, but in the case of modernizing enterprise software, its role is simple. A smart bot is a virtual assistant that you can dialogue with, get information from, use to schedule appointments, and that functions as your second brain.
“A well-designed bot makes an employee’s job more enjoyable. It removes the tedious and frustrating aspects of work in the digital age,” asserts Nolan. “And it helps to de-clutter and organize your workflow. All of those upgrades are essential to improving efficiency.”
Humans have been forced to work with programs that are designed to be functional instead of intuitive. But this new wave of technologies is bridging that gap and making the way we interface with technology more human.