September 10, 2014

“Showing” the Way Makes IT the Hero

Our IT community has long been held captive by requirements to “tell” end users what to do. Use this app, don’t use that one. Read the 20-page manual.

But the new shapes and forms of software are changing how end users experience technology. Well-designed software is “showing” them what’s possible. They are swiping and downloading apps on their own. And they are enticed by a multitude of application choices, making it even harder to accept being told what to do.

An opportunity awaits for IT leaders with the foresight and willingness to adapt to a new role. When IT takes a leadership position to provide users with authentic experiences that fulfill their pressing needs, IT will be viewed through a new lens. They will be the heroes, not naysayers, while still protecting their organization and managing costs.

But this IT transformation cannot happen unless all three sets of interrelated stakeholders approach things differently.

First, as vendors, we must design and build software differently. Rather than heavily load on features, we must hide complexity and make the most frustrating daily tasks incredibly simple. Instead of expecting users to train on software, intuitive design should let them naturally peel away only what they want, or go as deeply as they want.

Second, IT must adapt from enforcing the use of required apps, to thrilling and compelling users to gain value from the application. It will no longer be acceptable to assume a go live date met, or a list of features included, make an application successful. The single most important metric for IT and vendors alike will be end user engagement.

Third, end users should keep an open mind about what to expect from their technology at work. A change is underway that will move enterprise software productivity ahead of what users can do with consumer apps. Let go of the idea that the best apps are those you find on your own, at home. Prepare to be surprised.

As behaviors across these three groups evolve, many new and different experiences await. For IT especially, there is an opportunity for significant repositioning. It will take new skills (marketing), new job titles (customer success managers), and a rethinking of what matters (end user engagement). But as IT provisions and drives use of productivity tools that intuitively deliver value, IT will become the hero. And they’ll do it by showing users the way, not telling them to follow it.

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