How ease-of-use is reshaping the IT industry

Published on the 15/05/2014 | Written by Gerry McGovern

cloud and mobile

The interface is increasingly becoming the product when it comes to IT. Ease-of-use, long a peripheral issue, has now become central says customer-centric technology expert Gerry McGovern…

“The percent of IT buyers who plan to spend more with tech vendors ranges from 4 percent for the vendors that are most difficult to work with to 55 percent of tech vendors that are easiest to work with,” according to Bruce Temkin, who analysed a range of user studies in 2013. “The percent of IT buyers who are willing to try a new product or service from tech vendors ranges from 7 percent for the vendors that are most difficult to work with to 70 percent of tech vendors that are easiest to work with.”

Many organisations are considering cloud and mobile solutions today, but top of their agenda in evaluating these solutions is ease-of-use. “It’s not just doing mobile, but making mobile more intuitive. It’s not just adding new features but really thinking about making the UI more user friendly,” Rebecca Wettemann, VP for Nucleus Research states.

The old way of buying IT was based on developing a huge feature list. Buyers were obsessed with ‘built to last’ and ‘future-proofing’. The usability of the solutions was hardly ever considered. That often led to massive complexity, added costs, lots of unnecessary features, and usability nightmares.

The move to the cloud is driving simplicity because cloud is about services; and the way we buy services is very different to the way we buy products. Humans are really bad at planning for future needs. When we buy products we tend to choose extra stuff just in case. But when we buy services we tend to buy based on immediate need. “This is what I need to do now. Can your service help me?”

It used to be that if you worked for a large company you had all the cool tools. Mobile phones, teleconferencing, file sharing, people directories, etc. But in recent years, the consumers got all the cool stuff, whether it be iPhones, Amazon, Twitter or Facebook. The organisational landscape began to look ancient and very complicated.

Broadly, we are seeing a shift away from the world of things to the world of use. Organisations are becoming less interested in owning and are more focused on getting the best use.

Wettemann talks about a “partnership approach” that is developing between buyers and sellers, “in an effort to help their customers more easily derive value from features such as analytics”.

The trend towards managing outcomes rather than inputs is one of the most important of the last 10 years. “In the book B4B, we predict that technology customers will begin pressuring technology providers to commit to outcomes,” Thomas Lah of the Technology Services Industry Association states. “In other words, customers will not want to pay for technology up front and hope they achieve some target outcome. Customers will want their technology providers to assure the outcome is achievable.”

Managing outcomes has been made possible because the Internet allows us to measure how successful people are as they interact with technology. The web is the greatest laboratory of human behaviour ever invented. We should use it.

Gerry McGovern is an expert in customer-centric technology, CEO of Customer Carewords and a five-time published author. He helps large organisations become more customer centric on the web. His clients include Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, IBM, Atlas Copco and Tetra Pak.

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