Keep pace, or fall by the wayside
In the span of just a few years, corporate solutions like intranets, internal wikis, instant messaging systems, are proving to be grossly insufficient in delivering the kind and quality of experience users have come to expect. With the increased exposure to exceptionally well designed apps on the web, and their smartphones, the users are turning to SaaS platforms for their ease of deployment, simplicity and ease-of-use.
Enterprise systems are so far just playing catch-up, and barring a few exceptions, not doing a very good job at delivering stellar experiences. Whether it is the marketers reaching out to newer audiences online, prospective employees using social media to find new opportunities, corporate HR trying to keep a lid on online sentiment indices, or customers taking to Twitter and Facebook to vent their feelings out, social media has significantly altered the enterprise app landscape in the last few years.
Enterprises have to respond to the changed environment quickly by embracing the archetypes shown by social networks when architecting corporate applications. Users expect enterprise apps to be engineered, or reengineered, to enable better collaboration and communication, foster innovation, and support them as they deal with complex decisions. Organisations that understand this fundamental shift in user expectations stand to benefit immensely in the coming years. At the same time, compartmentalised, legacy applications within the enterprise space will see real, measurable negative bottomline impact in the coming years.
Social networks are breaking the barriers that corporate IT systems have so painstakingly created over the years. Customers, Employees and Partners routinely use social media, cutting across organisational hierarchies, to resolve immediate issues. In fact, these adhoc interactions and collaboration gets more work done in most cases than traditional, structured IT systems.
The concept of ‘Organisational Knowledge’ has also evolved rapidly over the last few years. Where the traditional knowledge management systems have done a good job with storing and codifying ‘explicit’ knowledge gems, ‘tacit’ knowledge is spread across a number of social media platforms, blogs, instant messaging and video-conferencing platforms. Successful knowledge management systems will bring these diverse touchpoints within a common reference framework, enabling users to tap into organisational knowledge from any touchpoint, regardless of their location, or device being used. From a 9x5 environment most large enterprises built over the last few decades, customers expect customer service 24x7 on the medium they choose.
In an age where both positive and negative sentiments can propagate to millions of other users within minutes, being able to call upon organisational resources to respond quickly can make all the difference between success and failure. From proactive social media engagement policies and quick response capabilities, to building systems that are friendly, comfortable and natural for users to work in, IT groups also need to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements as well as security of the digital assets.
SaaS applications are bringing the best user experiences of consumer apps into the enterprise. Ease-of-use and Design Simplicity were not even an objective in most corporate application design exercises until very recently. These have increasingly become a priority because of the realisation that stellar customer experience and high engagement levels have a direct bearing on favourable business outcomes.
Users expect seamless, connected experiences across their social networks and enterprise systems, on devices and channels they want. The need is for enterprise IT infrastructure and systems to aid decision making for end-users, and not get in the way. The focus needs to shift from delivering disconnected pieces of software to delivering optimised application environments and experiences that enable users to do their jobs faster and better!