In the last seven days I have had seven conversations about enterprise technology. Those systems that run our workplaces. The content of these conversations has been almost entirely gathered around how poor it is. These seven conversations took place in coffee shops, conference rooms, meeting rooms, a bar and one symposium room, no less. They took place with technology providers (vendors in the industry vernacular), industry analysts, learning technology managers, senior HR executives and training managers (or L&D executives). The industries represented in these conversations include: utilities, retail, accounting, construction, higher education, oil and gas, banking, broadcasting, food and drinks (or maybe it was food & drink?). Not scientific but a pretty good sample. Next week, I will attend Learning Technologies and I anticipate similar themes to be rehearsed.
These are the themes that arose in those conversations. Interestingly, much of the sentiment was personal – the voice of the individual user:
- Everything seems so complicated to use…
- …the systems need a training course
- I don’t understand what the terms mean…the language is weird
- I can’t take my stuff with me when I leave…
- ….I can’t access my stuff when I’m ‘out of the office’ wherever that may be
- I can’t take my stuff with me when I leave the company
- Coming to work is like going back in technology time
- It doesn’t really work on my phone
- These steps take a long time
- I’m not sure how well I’m doing – there is no feedback
- It’s really hard to find the people who know
- My browser doesn’t really work with that
- I’m not sure if I can make a suggestion or a comment – will anyone hear?
I suspect that these themes are familiar and the list could go on (and on and on). We all know that it is easy to moan and whine. It is much easier than offering a solution. The point here is though that most of us use better tools in our everyday lives than we do as employees. IT is this experience which is turning the spotlight on poor enterprise technologies. Something clearly can be done, we just aren’t doing it yet. Things have moved on very far very fast on the outside and corporate IT is struggling to keep the pace.
If you think my seven day odyssey is unusual then do let me know. If not, then it seems that some opportunities arise for enterprising product developers in this area? Even if onely part of this has merit. Those canny start ups in California and Hoxton are orbiting this area now and finding pain points to alleviate. This will be pain relief for users (employees) which makes their working lives easier. It will also make their workplaces more attractive to join and remain in.