How Consumer UX Is Influencing Enterprise Application Development

“People are wanting a Facebook-like experience on their mobile device at work.”

Andy Langley, CTO, Ntegra

Facebook has crafted a UX that users love. Enterprise apps are definitely not feeling that love. According to a recent ArcTouch study, 34% of users do not look forward to using an app provided by their employer.

The fact is consumer apps have shaped user expectations for years and enterprise app creators are lagging behind in meeting those expectations. Functionality alone is no longer sufficiently compelling to users, begging the question:

“Should enterprise apps meet user expectations, based on their experience with other apps?”

How consumer apps have shaped user expectations

Facebook may well be the king of apps, with nearly one billion daily users on mobile alone. Collaborative communication apps like Slack are also popular, with a UX that is simple and UIs that are easy to use.

Users have become accustomed to apps that have a UX like the apps they already use. This presents significant challenges to organizations trying to increase enterprise app usage.

Why user expectations are important

Users will download apps available through public app stores if they’re dissatisfied with their enterprise apps. These apps present specific information security issues:

Unmanaged information sharing

This allows a user to add anyone he chooses to a message thread. Furthermore, if an employee leaves, he still has access to all of that sensitive information. This information can be valuable if the employee goes to work for a competitor.

Little or no in-app security

This becomes important if an app is hacked and a data breach occurs. This can allow the hacker unlimited access to sensitive business information.

Unable to integrate business information security

Apps that are not designed for integration into business IT infrastructure are an ongoing security risk. It involves not just data security and protection, but also regulatory compliance.

This can become costly if an app data breach occurs and a business client loses sensitive information.

Vendor often owns all information shared through the app

This may be the largest security risk of all. If the vendor owns all data shared through their app, you won’t be able to do a thing about it. This is a legal risk and liability that most employees aren’t even aware of.

Enterprises need to understand the importance of good UX design

Unapproved consumer apps present many serious threats to information security. CIOs and CTOs need to understand how popular consumer apps design great UX. This might involve innovating ways to design enterprise app UX that meets or exceeds user expectations.

CIOs need to partner with an innovative technology provider to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

This will lay the foundation for a productive, collaborative relationship. The likelihood of delivering an app with the UX that employees expect is ultimately increased.

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In the ArcTouch study cited earlier, it was found that;

“70% of enterprise mobile app users wouldn’t describe their most-used app as intuitive, and only 13% would describe it as elegant.”

A little later, the same study states that 68% of both Off-The-Shelf (OTS) and custom [enterprise] app users grade their enterprise mobile app as a “B” or lower on design and visual appeal. It’s no wonder that employees are using consumer apps for business!

So, what’s a CIO to do?

There is no need to reinvent the wheel when developing enterprise apps that employees will love. Instead, borrow from the consumer app playbook, using UX design patterns that solve specific problems in your app.

There are three things a CIO needs to do to ensure that an enterprise app has great UX:

  1. Make your enterprise app at least as attractive as the most popular consumer apps. This means paying close attention to typography, color choices, and layout of each UI.
  2. Design User Flows that are intuitive for users. Map user flows to identify where additional UIs are needed and what buttons to include.  
  3. Perform user testing. User testing helps the designers see exactly how users will use the app, tweaking UIs and overall UX to identify common user behaviors. This results in an app with a truly intuitive UX based on actual user experience

As long as enterprise apps are difficult to use, employees will turn to consumer apps. CIOs need to provide innovative apps that solve business problems with beautiful, first-rate UX.

As mobile becomes the way things get done, enterprise apps will need look great and be a pleasure to use. While great UX is a key factor to developing enterprise apps that employees love to use, so is the ability to use the app to work across a variety of devices.

Enterprise app interoperability

The ubiquity of mobile technology has transformed how we use it. Not only are we consuming content with our mobile devices, we are creating content. The explosion of mobile productivity apps makes this evident.

Currently, interoperability of enterprise apps is limited or non-existent. Creating enterprise apps for use across smartphones, tablets, and desktop should be a priority.

Fundamentally, interoperability makes enterprise apps more convenient. Hoping from a task you’re solving on one device to another should be a frictionless experience.

Check out our full podcast with Andy Langley where we discuss the importance of creating a frictionless experience for users across all their devices.

Enterprise apps need to reach the bar set by consumer applications

Consumer apps have shaped user expectations and set the bar high for enterprise app development. User expectations drive user behavior. When a user doesn’t like the UX of an enterprise app they can download a similar app instead.

Employee use of consumer apps for business purposes presents a data security threat. Identifying pain points in enterprise apps and realigning the app’s UX with user expectations is crucial

The most successful enterprise apps will be those that strike a balance between business needs and user expectations.