An awesome user interface IS your strategic weapon

April 8, 2014 John Gorup

user interface

When software vendors started selling configurable enterprise systems with a GUI (graphical user interface), it was thrilling to see your own company’s logo in the upper right or left of the screen. This was called “branding” the software, and gave users a better sense of ownership of their packaged software. Those simple days are long gone, and now there is a growing sense that companies need more than logos to define their brand.

When Salesforce came on the scene, it represented a giant step in improved user experience. At the time, the goal was to have a CRM system as clean and easy-to-use as Amazon.com. And for users who were used to green screens, client-server applications, and client-server applications that were clumsily migrated to a browser-based system, the difference was welcome.

Over time, though, the consumer applications users rely on in their personal life have raised the bar to the point where their CRM system now looks stale by comparison. Some of the Appirio team’s consumer apps include Uber, Runkeeper, and FitBit but there is a seemingly endless line of beautiful apps coming into our lives.  What all these apps have in common is a combination of usability and visual appeal, that require no training and are fun to use. They are also mobile first.

There is a growing need to get enterprise software to look and feel more like consumer applications. This need is not just a matter of aesthetics or vanity, more and more companies are defining themselves to their employees, partners, and customers through their software.

  • This ComputerWeekly article about Appiro’s Jason Averbrook, says “The next generation of workers, who have been brought up on smart phones and mobile apps, will be more demanding of technology than ever before.” With workers coming and going, it’s clear that corporate software needs to be instantly usable and appealing.

  • Software vendors like Salesforce have also recognize the importance for partners to have a better software experience. The creation of Communities has opened up new and better partner experiences.

  • Finally, this report from Forrester shows how companies are establishing their brand with customers through software applications.  As the report states, “Firms that effectively harness mobile moments to be present and valuable in their customers’ lives extend their brand. Firms like Citibank, Travelers, and Westpac give customers the convenience of making deposits from anywhere or submitting a claim at the scene of an accident.”

At Appirio, we call this branding phenomenon of software SaaS-W, or Software-as-a-Strategic-Weapon.  Download our eBook today, and get started on weaponizing your software.

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