Across New Zealand, business leaders are all too keen to spout the usual rhetoric of operating at the cutting-edge of innovation.
As they like to project to the industry, they are the forward-thinking folk in the room, the pioneers of technology and all it encompasses.
From the outside in, businesses are quick to paint themselves as shining beacons of invention in this new era of digitalisation.
Yet behind the walls the reality can be quite different – as those tasked with driving innovation become left behind by an outdated internal approach to enterprise applications.
Travel back 40 years and the cool technology of the world was found in the workplace, but today, it’s in the hands of the consumer, driving the rise of the design led enterprise.
“Enterprises are now willing to explore a different approach to applications,” says Matt Pickering, Managing Director, NV Interactive, an internationally recognised New Zealand based digital agency. “We’re seeing a huge gap in the market and find that once businesses become aware of the disruptive potential of design lead enterprise applications, there is a real appetite for it.”
Drawing on 17 years experience across web, mobile and app development, Pickering believes organisations are beginning to understand the benefits of better running businesses from the palms of employee hands, built around the notion of fusing design and functionality at an enterprise level.
Not to be confused with simply bringing consumer apps into the enterprise, Pickering’s approach focuses on producing efficient business applications that adopt key consumer attributes of user centric design and a focus on usability, thus ensuring a high adoption level.
In short, the beautification of enterprise apps is rising, as businesses seek new ways to rollout applications that employees won’t hate.
“Too often enterprise applications are led by IT departments and usually, the technical people forget about the end user experience,” says Pickering, speaking exclusively to Computerworld New Zealand at Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2015 in Orlando, Florida.
“The typical view of enterprise applications are that they provide clunky and outdated experiences for the user, yet we’ve found that taking a design led approach has tangible bottom line impacts for business.”
Citing PGG Wrightson as an example, an agricultural supply business based in New Zealand, Pickering says NV Interactive’s user experience design initiatives helped the company better utilise employee productivity, through a fresh approach to CRM applications.
“It’s a great example of providing a consumer looking application that delivers enterprise functionality in the workplace,” Pickering explains.
As a long time Microsoft partner, with a range of local and global accolades for application development, Pickering says NV Interactive helped paint a picture of what PGG Wrightson’s CRM processes could actually look like, with the end result being a compelling experience for the company’s out in the field workers.
“In this instance, PGG Wrightson understood that if they didn’t get employee buy-in for the application, which was built for the company’s outbound sales team, then it wouldn’t significantly impact the business,” Pickering adds.
“This was essentially built for working with farmers out in the field.”
“As a result, this required a different approach to how the application was delivered, as opposed to just providing the team with CRM and hoping for the best.
“Our approach was to design an application that engaged employees, addressing their needs as opposed to the business needs, otherwise they’d just revert back to their old ways of operating.”
Referring to a classic case in point, Pickering recalls one rural sales worker, a top-performing sales employee, which needed to be catered for in a different manner to traditional enterprise application rollouts.
“His way of working was to write down notes while with the client, climb back into his Ute and scribble them onto the inside of his windscreen with a whiteboard market,” he explains.