The New Consumerized Enterprise

By Brad Martin, Senior Director, Product Marketing, PRO Unlimited

Brad Martin, Senior Director, Product Marketing, PRO Unlimited

There is a dramatic change happening in enterprise software design. The chasm between the consumer and enterprise experience is quickly closing. Enterprise users demand the same product experiences they have in their personal lives. New “consumerized enterprise” solutions extend user experiences found in the world’s leading consumer applications, to the business domain. For too long, enterprise software developers have not made user experience a top priority, but this mindset is quickly changing. Consumerization in enterprise software is the process of redesigning and re-orienting the end user experience from a process driven one, to a user driven one.

"Another critical component that cannot be ignored is the availability of VMS access on any device—meeting users wherever they are in their day"

End users, whether they are at home or at work, want solutions that are intuitive, easy-to-use, and deliver functionality that meets their transactional or business requirements. In parallel, savvy developers recognize that improved usability multiplies the business value of the solution. As a result, enterprises are redesigning their technology solutions to more closely resemble consumer applications. These solutions remove friction points and barriers, making the user experience both seamless and highly optimized.

These concepts not only apply to desktop enterprise applications, but mobile applications as well. Users are increasingly mobile, and so should be their access and experience with these enterprise applications. As more and more developers have adopted a “mobile first” strategy, the idea that mobile can be a secondary experience, is no longer valid. With mobile usage numbers continuously on this rise, truly consumerized software must be “Omni-channel,” and the quality of the end user experience must be fluid across all devices. Allowing users true freedom of mobility, with a consistent user focused experience serves to not only increased adoption, but also multiplies the business value of the application.

While enterprise software that has long been plagued by a lack of consumerization and a secondary focus on the user experience, software design trends on consumer products are beginning to take hold. Enterprise software developers that are able to acknowledge and adapt to this trend will have a considerable competitive advantage moving forward. Enterprise software that does not, will not only be at a competitive disadvantage, but will increasingly looks outdated in the years to come.

Vendor Management Systems (VMS) within the contingent workforce have been plagued by this lack of consumerization. Like many industries, the technology has historically suffered from a robotic and cumbersome approach to user interaction. More than ever, there needs to be a synergy between enterprise processes and the ease-of-use that these systems deliver to both managers and contingent workers. Additionally, another critical component that cannot be ignored is the availability of VMS access on any device—meeting users wherever they are in their day. The goal is to create an environment of efficiency. For example, when a worker or manager logs in from their desktop or mobile device, there should be a short list of tasks that require completion. This enables a more actionable view of primary responsibilities and allows the user to optimize their time without wasting precious clicks searching for items that do not need immediate attention.

Another area that benefits contingent workforce management technology is “Contextual Interface Design.” In this instance, the buttons on the interface will adapt to elevate the appropriate next action for any task. There may be recently created requests and the actions required in context to its status. For a request that is in a “candidates submitted” status, the action button presented might be “Review Resumes.” However, that same action button might be presented as “Contact Approver” if the request is in a status where it is waiting for approval before it can be submitted to suppliers. In either case, the action that users take will be in context to the status of that request.

VMS features should also incorporate vendor profiles containing a “yelp-like” review system that produces a rating for managers to reference when selecting vendors. Additionally, vendors can manage aspects of their profile though a vendor portal. Managers who wish to include a RFI as part of a project request can do so by creating their questions through a “Survey Monkey” type interface. When reviewing quote submissions, the manager can review the quote and RFI details in a side-by-side view that rivals that of a consumer reports shopping application.

On the mobile access front, which is ever-present in today’s workforce applications, a mobile VMS solution like PRO Unlimited’s Wand is an Omni-channel platform, boasting not only a web application, but also native applications for the iPhone, iPad, Android, and Apple watch. These applications and other are built to take full advantage of each device and help organizations better manage their contingent workforce anytime, anywhere.

Finally, there is a need to understand that consumerization is the re-orienting and re-imagining of enterprise software away from “process driven design” and towards delivering a rich, enjoyable experience. Organizations that manage contingent workforces can now realize the benefits of new design approach creating more intuitive user interfaces while incorporating familiar UI pattern and features like real-time in app messaging, peer rating for vendors, and contextual action. These types of features along with mobile functionality will result in delivering greater business outcomes across the enterprise like never before.

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