MFG 2.0

Enterprise Software Can No Longer Remain Unusable

OK, I know it's a hyperbolic title, but I'm speaking in the comparative -- with consumer apps becoming ever-easier, enterprise software can no longer hide behind the wall of their installed base and say, "We don't need to focus on usability; users simply must adapt to our frankly unusable applications." To use an apt expression, such an attitude no longer computes.

What brought this idea up was the usual free-associative meanderings from the web. I read a post in the business strategy/innovation blogosphere from a smart guy named Idris Mootee who was waxing ecstatic about the wonders of Swedish design, when I remembered some of the newer screenshots I'd seen of the latest enterprise portal from Swedish ERP provider IFS that features onboard map mashups, sticky notes, an iPhone-style interface, and all sorts of little usable widget trickery that makes it attractive to the types of users who will be performing many of those customer-facing, entry-level jobs that feed data into your essential planning systems. The idea is, keep these crucial users engaged (or at least not tuned out) and you've got a better chance of that ground-floor data being accurate. The CTO of IFS, Dan Mathews, talked about the concept as being "informational ergonomics" (here's the report I filed from an IFS user conference: Globalization, Swedish Style) which, given the pressures of the modern, mulitple-firehose knowledge workplace, is an idea whose time has come.

Here's a nice-looking shot or two of enterprise software eye candy (yes, that phrase is no longer a joke) from IFS.

TAGS: Innovation
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