When I joined Skuid several months ago, I didn’t realize I was joining a digital revolution. When I started in September, we were in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while I was keenly aware of how the pandemic was impacting the way we live and work, I wasn’t thinking about its implications for digital transformation initiatives and the critical role user experience played in those initiatives.
As millions of people across the world began working from home and staying home in general, internet usage surged by 70 percent. Businesses had to urgently accommodate a remote workforce by digitizing critical operational processes. Digital initiatives were taken off the back burner and made an absolute priority. And the shift to a fully remote workforce meant that adoption of the new applications became more important than ever and crucial to the success of a digital strategy.
User adoption is the lynchpin of a digital initiative, but unfortunately, it is often overlooked or considered as an afterthought. But in the work-from-home reality, businesses now know their applications must be fully adopted by users. Pandemic living and working from home requires applications that are designed for the way we live and work. Apps that don’t fit smoothly into our routines and processes derail digital transformation, leave users feeling frustrated, and will not get adopted.
Great user experiences aren’t just an IT responsibility.
The, “If you build it they will come” theory of application design doesn’t work anymore, and if we want business users to integrate our applications into everyday processes, then these applications and software need to offer a UX on par with the lifestyle apps we use outside of work.
Reports show that more than 50 percent of marketing managers agree that in the past two years, they see more similarities in the way their B2B and B2C customers behave. That shouldn’t be surprising. Customers are people. They’re us. We are accustomed to intuitive and delightful digital experiences like the ones we use for streaming services or social media. We prefer an interface we are familiar with over new ones we fumble around in.
As Gartner predicts, it’s critical for us to think about user experience as the gateway action to a digital-first strategy.
In Gartner’s Predicts 2021: Technology Will Become More Critical to CX With or Without the IT Department, the research argues that organizations with IT teams that understand the needs of customers will outperform competitors’ customer experience metrics by 20 percent. But, predictions are not reality. There is work to be done if we want to get to that point.
According to Gartner’s research, slightly less than 60 percent of customer experience projects included IT. This indicates that the problem starts at the top. Customer experience leaders and the people who understand customer and user experience do not sit in the IT department. Only three percent of them do.
To build what customers want in their apps and design functionality to reflect their desires, we need stronger collaboration between IT, CX, designers, and developers. Unless the 97 percent of non-IT CX and UX leaders work very closely with IT’s three percent, the opportunity for IT to drive incremental value through thoughtful design in business apps is all but lost. This also means that anything IT builds and which does not include thoughtful experience design, will either die on the vine or get held up in the dev process while the 97 percent submit design change after design change.
An adaptable, digital-first approach wins.
After ten months of living in this pandemic, I can say with confidence that we are in an amazing time. Usually, when a vertical industry talks about digital initiatives, the majority of people outside of that industry are unaware anything is going on. It’s not until the rest of the world sees the net result of the change that they finally understand the significance of it. This pandemic created a unified experience for everyone, and collectively we share an understanding of the change in real-time. We are all sitting at our desks at home, right in the middle of it.
For many, things will return to normal. But for a great many others, the digital transformation bell cannot be unrung; they do not want it to be unrung. As businesses, whether B2B or B2C, we must accept the fact and adopt an adaptable digital-first framework that is as malleable and interoperable as our customers, partners, and employees who are living and working in this new normal every day.
Good technology blends into the background and works with us. It doesn’t cause friction or draw negative attention to itself. The only way we can create great technology experiences that feel natural is by understanding ourselves, our users, and our customers.
Digital starts with the people. Let the revolution begin!
For more information about why it’s more important than ever to automate business processes and set a foundation for more agile app design, development and deployment, check out our webinar with Forrester analysts and Salesforce leaders, “Get more done with less.”