Enterprise software has never been about making the lives of end users easier as they do daily work. Some say the next generation won’t tolerate this. Others are saying that day has arrived with Gen X and Millenials who are revolting against traditional IT and turning to shadow IT. Charles Phillips sees user experience as the next frontier in enterprise software. And he’s bet the company on it.
Infor CEO on Design and Enterprise Software
Beauty and business software, you’re right hasn’t gone together but we’re creating that conversation as we speak right now. How we got there was, we’ve all been at the company and in this business for quite a number of years. The top executives in the company all worked with me when I was at Oracle and we all joined here on the same day. And we have a lot of experience working and not being happy with the way the software looked and felt. The idea of having these great, beautiful devices at home, on your iPhone, an android phones, and all the cool stuff was happening in consumer software.
And we said “why shouldn’t business software you know learn from that” and we’re all gadget freaks we like that stuff, so why can’t business applications be beautiful as well. And so we made it part of our mission when we came to this company now we had a platform and the resources that we could create a company in our image and do what we wanted. Let’s take on beauty as a competence, and let’s take on beauty as a way to differentiate ourselves and hire people understand beauty and design.
So it drove the strategy and that’s one of the reasons we relocated to New York City so we could find people for new design.
I just don’t think the next generation of business users who use business applications will accept typically what we have done in this industry.
Historically, the way the software looked was an afterthought and the people who bought the software didn’t have to use it, they were executives who bought it but then you know, people in the back office had to use it and it was dictated to them and it was just never important. And I think going forward, if you want to hire the best employees and retain them, you have to make their jobs easier. You have to make the applications more consumer-like as so we’re building software for the next generation is the way to think of it.
Michael: But it’s not just user experience. This is not just a matter of pretty screens and nicely placed pixels it goes far deeper than that.
Yeah, that’s why we don’t use the word just UI design and standalone. The word experience means how do you interact with technology and of course it has to look great as a new modern design, but we used this as an opportunity to kind of rethink how people interact with technology: can we reduced the number of steps; can we make it more intuitive; can we study what they do every day. We do this. We send people on sites and watch people work and say, “they do these four things 80% of the time so let’s optimize around those four things” and the other things we can put somewhere else.
So let’s look at the workflow and actual behaviour at work and what’s priority and then design the software. So it’s really about solving problems and not just designing software.