More than a third of all employees (39%) experience frustration with their software and tech at work, according to Oxford Economics.
In today’s world, B2B users expect the software they use to be easily deployed, as well as intuitive and responsive – but it wasn’t always this way.
Profitability has shifted to the consumer market, and consumers have vastly different expectations than B2B professionals. They want beautiful, easy-to-use apps that are intuitive. They expect to download and go, without reading an instruction manual.
These expectations have carried over to the business world – putting users’ needs at the forefront.
In today’s blog, we will discuss software usability and how it impacts user adoption and productivity in the B2B sphere.
B2B Software Usability
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines usability as:
The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use.
At the foundation of software usability are two central tenets – User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI).
Bambu describes UX as “design [that] focuses on the entire experience the user has with the software. It includes the way a product is designed for user experience, making for an efficient, effective, and enjoyable experience.”
Similarly, Bambu describes UI as “design [that] focuses on the look and feel of the software.”
Together, both UX and UI dictate a user’s experience with B2B software. UX determines what the software needs (i.e. a menu or button) and UI determines how the software looks (i.e. rounded or square buttons).
If either UI or UX is poorly designed, users can become easily frustrated with the application, leading to poor user adoption and engagement. In contrast, well-designed UI and UX can drastically improve software ease-of-use and productivity.
Customization vs. Collaboration
In the past, companies purchased software, such as an ERP system, and then spent a significant amount of time and money customizing it to their needs. Often, this required heavy involvement from the company’s IT team, rather than the department who would ultimately use the software.
As users have begun to demand better usability, customization of expensive business software has become a thing of the past. This shift has required a stronger focus on UI/UX, as discussed above.
Business software must be accessible to all users of varying levels of knowledge and expertise, without the need for extensive customization before deployment.
As such, collaboration has become the new model for business software. B2B users desire to be in control – giving them the power to implement, make changes, and take ownership of their tools.
Employee Engagement & The 5 E’s
At best, employees can leverage software in their day-to-day work. At worst, employees can become disengaged and resistant to abandoning legacy processes in favor of a more efficient software solution.
A survey by Gallup revealed that disengaged employees cost the economy $7 trillion in lost productivity. So – how can you ensure your B2B software is effectively utilized by your organization?
Whitney Quesenbery, an expert in software usability, has created 5 E’s to understanding users’ needs. These dimensions provide a framework with which B2B professionals can evaluate and improve their business software:
- Effective – how completely and accurately the work or experience is completed, or goals reached
- Efficient – how quickly this work can be completed
- Engaging – how well the interface draws the user into the interaction and how pleasant and satisfying it is to use
- Error Tolerant – how well the product prevents errors and can help the user recover from mistakes that do occur
- Easy to Learn – how well the product supports both the initial orientation and continued learning through the complete lifetime of use
How Ease of Use Fits into CPM Software
When it comes to CPM software, you need an easy-to-use solution that provides a holistic view of your company’s financial health.
At Prophix, we are committed to transforming the way that finance professionals’ budget, plan, and report. If your business is struggling with disengaged employees who are resistant to learning the skills required to use your B2B software, you are not alone.
The good news is that Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Natural Language skills can help.
In short, ML and AI can simplify the interactions between humans and computers using Natural Language (i.e. English phrases).
With Prophix’s Virtual Financial Analyst, your employees can speak to the software, allowing them to automate repetitive tasks, identify patterns, and standardize data analysis more naturally.
This facilitates new levels of efficiency, mobility, and insights by enabling us to communicate with our business systems in a way that’s more natural to us. As such, organizations in search of B2B software should prioritize AI, ML, and Natural Language functionality to improve company-wide productivity and engagement.