How intuitive is your cloud software?

Blog article | By Andrew Barlow, May 13, 2017

Just back from another tech event and it’s great to see cloud vendors pushing the boundaries of technology to help digitally transform enterprise organisations. However, the topic of ‘intuitiveness’ in technology continues to perplex the industry.

I have my own opinion of course (as I do with almost everything) yet, it fascinates me to see how the topic of ‘intuitiveness’ has been used by and received by practitioners alike. Allow me to explain…

You don’t need training, our tool’s intuitive!

About three to four years ago, we observed vendors using ‘intuitiveness’ as a way of selling and deflecting customer challenges to reduce software licence costs. Typically, during negotiation, clients would encourage the vendor to reduce such fees in an attempt to bring them in line with their available budget. This would be met swiftly with a counter question, ‘how much have you budgeted for change management, communication and training?’.

The customer reply would typically reflect industry best practice. The sales rep would then state, “Our tool is so intuitive you don’t need change, communication or training, users will just get it. ” This led to a significant number of customers selling their business on the ideology that they did not require a budget for change, communication or training due to the intuitive nature of the proposed new product. Meanwhile, the costs now fit nicely within the available budget.

Ain’t no sunshine

Many businesses are unprepared to roll out software in such a way; they often have set, methodical processes to ensure they are prepared to provide the adequate level of support to colleagues. Soon enough, anxiety begins to take hold. Internal support networks feel unprepared to support the change, should something go horribly wrong.

I saw this first hand during a HR Cloud deployment where the pressure from local HRBP teams emanated through the business. They were ill-equipped to support their local colleagues as they tiptoed closer to go-live.

When reality strikes

Fast forward to go-live, D-day. Today is when we discover how ‘intuitive’ this tool really is. There are many directions the project could now take, but the reality is that ‘no noise is good noise’. It’s rare that a business will roll out a new software application to find employees lining the streets to thank them for digitally transforming their lives. Experience tells us that either the cold hands of colleague frustration will throttle our shared service centres or we will hear complete silence.

The barometer for whether a software’s ‘intuitiveness’ can lead to harmonised adoption of the new change is difficult to gauge. I have met many organisations that have been sold on the theory of ‘intuitiveness’, only to be left with a frustrated workforce and no budget to tackle internal adoption issues. But why?

The easy answer is that software is just one part of a wider complex business change. Alone, it will not dictate the success or failure of a software project and as such ‘intuitiveness’ can only make a small contribution to project success. Many of the adoption challenges I see in business relate to strategy, culture, behaviour and process changes. Therefore, the need for investment in change and training is still as critical as it has ever been. I would go as far as saying that the speed of cloud technology deployments is amplifying the adoption challenge to a point where it’s even more important to invest in activities to drive wider transformational adoption.

Conclusion

To conclude, ‘intuitiveness’ is in the mind, it’s subjective. People are different, where some may find complexity in technology, others will find simplicity. We should consider that when a user transitions from a novice to an expert, they actually yearn for more features and complexity. I believe that tech companies can assist with the challenge that businesses face to optimise the adoption of their internal software applications. However, that alone will not lead to high ROI and benefits realisation, invest in your people.

About the Author: Andrew Barlow is the Director, Product Strategy at AppLearn, a leading provider of cloud technologies designed to help organisations adopt large technology transformation projects. After years of experience evaluating the relationship between people and technology, Andrew’s brainchild was the ADOPT platform. A people-centric support tool designed to help people embrace change and technology. Andrew is a driven innovator that loves to solve problems through technology. You can follow Andrew at https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewbarlowapplearn/

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