Friday, September 05, 2014

Nobody Bunts With Two Strikes

Once upon a time, I coached a young women's fast pitch softball team.  Big adventure, as most of my coaching experience is with baseball, and I really enjoyed it.  One game, the opposing team's catcher was hitting with two outs and two strikes.  I shouted out to my team to stop covering the bunt - nobody bunts with two strikes (because a foul ball off a bunt attempt is strike three).  So my team's infield draw back.  Then the catcher bunts, laughing at me all as she jogs down to first base with a clean infield hit.  Yeah, I ate some serious humble pie.  And I learned to never bet on the past as an absolute limitation on possibilities for the present and future.

Today I know enterprise application developers who take the attitude that they've never had to worry about the user before, so why start now?  Hold that thought for a moment...

I've really enjoyed the unfolding story at Infor.  Their tag line is "Beautiful business software for your business processes."  Infor has baked the concept of beautiful design into their corporate culture, even so far as to invest in design firm Hook and Loop to drive design as a part of their corporate culture.  Infor actually considers design as a product and corporate differentiator.  Seems to be working for them.  $3B in annual revenue growing at a 40%+ clip is nothing to sneeze at.  And I suspect a bit of that success comes from the emphasis on User Experience design brought to Infor by CEO and Oracle alum Charles Phillips.

Oracle?  Yup.  The UX team at Oracle has proven that user experience design is a differentiating factor in the marketplace.  Simplified UI has played well with potential Fusion/Cloud customers.  So well, in fact, that the E-Business Suite is now adopting Simplified UI.  And the PeopleTools team seems to have enabled the adoption of many Simplified UI design patterns with the 8.54 release.  And that UX team continues to innovate with improved user experiences (which is much more than just UI) utilizing Fusion Middleware.

Oracle, Infor, Workday, SAP...they've all embraced the concept (admittedly, some more than others) that beautiful design sells while not-so-beautiful design is a competitive hinderance.

Now, let's consider that thought again.  "I've never had to worry about the user before, so why start now?"  Yeah, and nobody bunts with two strikes.

Thoughts? Opinions?  Find the comments.


Mark W. Farnham said...

The first time I supported EBS (MPL 3.2), the users included the company treasurer and the company chief executive officer, both of whom had a role in paying my boss. Therefore I have a *lot* of trouble understanding why anyone in IT would ever lack consideration for the user interface. But yeah, user experience is king as long as the functions actually work. And as Cary Millsap puts it "Almost any user interface would be improved by having less of it." Nice post Floyd. Now help me figure out how to have Farnham for US Senate ( go viral before Tuesday so I can prove you don't need to spend megabucks to win an election. That would be a game changer!

UVOX said...

Awesome post Floyd. Definitely UX is a competitive must have. AND the cloud changes everything. Don't like your UX? You're outa there in a way. Software Simplicity as a Service (SSaaS) is where it's at.

Reminds me that great UX is like a great joke. If you have to explain it, well... it ain't that good...

Ultan (@usableapps)