There was a great post on SearchManufacturing ERP this week about ERP trends and what business leaders need to think about as they strategize for continued growth. The top four trends mentioned in the post–UX/UI prioritization, integration, collaboration, and customer interaction–stood out to me because they all underscore how technology is taking the user into account more than ever.
I’ve written before about my many lives in software marketing and how heady it is to think that not so very long ago I was marketing to ERP customers using green screen terminals and now work with manufacturers moving their entire businesses (ERP included) to the cloud. As the article points out, cloud is the norm of what surrounds us now, and that has big implications for the expectations of users and customers. While it’s nothing new for a marketer to say that you need to consider a user’s perspective and needs in order to make an emotional connection that spurs action, it’s interesting to watch how the drive for user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) has permeated all levels of technology development.
In particular, I’m intrigued (and excited since I market for a company that emphasizes UX so strongly) to see UX coupled with UI. UI, of course, has always been an important component of software: What does it look like? What is the clickpath to get to items A, B, C? What perfunctory task needs to be completed in this screen? UX is a newer concept because it’s the emotional yang to the UI’s tactical yin: How does the user feel using this application? Is it pleasing to the eye?
With the lines of consumers and workers blurring more and more by the day, it’s never been more important to consider form and function together. Indeed, all four trends the SearchManufacturing piece cited are tied to user experience, in my opinion. Integration is all about streamlining data and giving users a single (or at least fewer) system to deal with in order to get the information they need. Collaboration is a basic expectation of any company, particularly considering the rise of the mobile workforce. Customer interaction only highlights my point about the blurred lines between business and consumer: we’re all the same and our expectations for speed, functionality, and overall experience are carrying over from one side to the other.
All this is to say that UX matters. It matters a great deal. It matters to your employees, your customers, and ultimately to your business. If you’re not prioritizing your users’ experience, starting with the systems they use every day to be successful in their jobs, now is the time to start. Specific to the four trends mentioned in the post, here are some thoughts on how to achieve this:
- UX/UI Prioritization: Consider your users’ needs from the systems they use to get their jobs done every day. Are they empowered to get the information and support they need? Is your ERP system keeping up or is it time to consider a more flexible, cloud-based ERP solution?
- Integration: What systems does your team rely on every day and can you integrate them to gain visibility, efficiency, and overall improved user experience?
- Collaboration: Where do your teams come together and is it working for them? Even a simple tool like Chatter which is embedded in Salesforce CRM is an easy way to heighten collaboration through faster connections between team members.
- Customer Interaction: How do your customers interact with you? Are you meeting their user experience expectations when it comes to getting help and information?
If you’re tackling any of these trends and could use some additional guidance, the Luxent team is happy to connect!