Closing the User Experience Gap

September 21, 2015

Contributor: Susan Moore

Employees are still seeing a vast gulf between the design and usability of the software they use outside work and the software they use in the workplace.

We live in a world filled with mobile-centric, consumer software catering for an ever-increasing array of daily activities. Yet the software we use for work remains in a state of suspended animation — bound to tired old paradigms of process-based efficiency. It tends to be devoid of any consideration of employees' contextual requirements and with no effort to embrace advances in user interface design.

These shortcomings are increasingly rare for customer-facing IT systems. Software led by the marketing organization is usually comparable to the types of software being produced by dedicated consumer-focused vendors.

According to Brian Prentice, research vice president at Gartner, this is causing an “experience gap.” This means the tangible difference between the experience people have with the software they use in their capacity as employees of an organization, the experience they have with the software they use outside of work, and the software they see their organization producing for its own customers.

“Unfortunately, we find that IT leaders are lacking an understanding of what the experience gap is, and an appreciation for its impact. A central part of this disconnect is a misunderstanding of what the consumer market is.”

“ It’s time to consumerize your enterprise software, before it consumes you.”

Create new efficiencies and innovation

IT leaders tend to think of consumerization in very literal terms – that is, a manifestation of a unique segment that is distinct from enterprise technology. With this dichotomy drawn, consumerization is seen as a cost and risk management problem that needs to be solved through increased compliance and oversight, coupled with minor concessions to employees.

Unfortunately, this perspective only exacerbates the experience gap. It slows adoption of consumer software in the enterprise, while keeping current software in its current state; so tension mounts.

Rather than being seen as something happening to enterprise IT, consumerization should be acted on as a learnable set of techniques that create new efficiency and innovation outcomes for the organization, while increasing IT's relevance with the organization's employees.

Consumerization can be learned

Rather than seeing consumerization as something distinct, leading organizations recognise that it's an entirely different way of thinking about solution definition, creation and maintenance, which results in mass-market adoption. On that basis, consumerization is essentially a technique that can be learned by enterprise IT.

Consumerization is an opportunity for IT to introduce new business efficiencies and innovations and increase IT's relevance to employees. Simply put, consumerization can close the experience gap between consumer and enterprise applications. To achieve this CIOs and application leaders should become customer-centric and enable customers to adapt solutions to their needs.

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