Are enterprise applications evolving?

How many people can remember their default home page on their browser five years ago? Three years ago? Most likely it was a) Your preferred Search Engine; b) your favorite media outlet (news, sports, entertainment, etc.); or c) your company home page (many times pre-set by your IT staff to an intranet or corporate web site).

Fast forward to today… Now, when most people get online their default homepage is often customized with content specific to their interests. MyYahoo, iGoogle, myESPN are all examples of how today’s web consumers want their information instantly, without having to search and click to filter through news and info that they are not interested in. Now users get the scores, stock quotes, news, weather, traffic and entertainment news that they are specifically interested in, right on their landing page. Today’s preferred sites are instantly engaging for the user, allowing them to quickly get the information they want without wasting time or effort.

Another HR blogger, Steve Boese highlights a similar trend in a recent post called “Going Graphic”, discussing how the classic college textbook is evolving into a more engaging experience:

“But to me, the best message here is the way the professor has created an alternative to long standing tradition, developed a product designed to appeal to his audience, while taking into account that tastes, preferences, and technology have all changed.  He is still teaching the necessary course material, but by letting go of ‘the way it’s always been done’, has created an environment that is quite different, distinctive, and memorable.”

Why then are so many of today’s enterprise software applications still so difficult for users to interact with? The very applications that are touted as “increasing productivity” are often productivity killers, presenting users with information overload. Many repetitive tasks and commonly-used features require multiple clicks to execute, frustrating users and ultimately costing the company more in required labor.

Thankfully a new class of enterprise software is displacing many of the traditional, ERP-style systems and is now being embraced by a number of different industries across a number of functional roles. These systems go far beyond a sexy, new web-based user interface. Configurable desktops with functionality based a user’s role are now streamlining content and usability. Today’s workforce management systems can now provide managers with immediate visibility into common tasks like time off requests, employee absences and schedule impact, available staff and more. 

Consider these factors when evaluating your current workforce management system:

1)      Can your users manage by exception? Does your current system provide alerts and notifications when actions are needed?

2)      Can users/managers set up their desktop to display the primary functionality needed to execute their tasks?

3)      Can multi-step tasks be setup in a workflow that walks users through the steps necessary to perform that task?

For more on how enterprise software user interfaces are changing, check out this recently published whitepaper –

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