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Unit4 2017 Enterprise Tech End-User Sentiment Survey

Posted by  Emma Keates

Despite huge investments in R&D and exploding profits, many enterprise technology vendors are overlooking the end-users of their technology. Unit4 recently examined end-user sentiment around enterprise technology by surveying more than 1,000 professionals in the U.S.

Are enterprise technology vendors missing the mark with end-users?

Despite huge investments in R&D and exploding profits, many enterprise technology vendors are overlooking the end-users of their technology. Recent research from Unit4, a world leader in enterprise systems for service organizations, examined end-user sentiment around enterprise technology by surveying over 1,000 professionals in the U.S. The results demonstrate a significant disconnect between end-users and enterprise technology vendors, with nearly one in three respondents expressing negative sentiment about the software applications they use in their professional lives.

Fear, loathing and apathy in the enterprise 

More than one in three professionals (34 percent) express negative sentiment about the software applications they use in their professional lives. When asked to describe their feelings, 20 percent said that the software applications they use for work make their workday more difficult. Additionally, eight percent said that the technology they use at work makes their day miserable, and six percent have even thought about quitting their job because their systems are so inadequate. Overall, the survey found that the systems that we’re using every day are likely making it harder to do our jobs, not easier. Now that doesn’t make sense.

When asked which statement best describes their feelings about the professional applications and technologies respondents use at work, nearly 18 percent report hating them “with the power of a thousand suns.” Despite these strong feelings, it does appear that a small contingent of enterprise technology vendors are doing it right, with seven percent of end-users reporting that they’d “sooner give up their first born than their work technology.” While there are very strong feelings both for and against work technology, the majority of respondents (76 percent) describe their feelings toward their work tools as “meh.” Given forecasted spending on enterprise software in the hundreds of billions this year alone – “meh” does not seem like a reasonable reaction from over three quarters of the work force.

The digital downgrade

With people’s reliance on technology becoming greater with every passing day, it is not unreasonable that professionals expect powerful yet intuitive technology at work. However, many of the conveniences we experience through modern, easy-to-use technologies remain trapped in the realm of our personal lives. Case in point, more than a quarter of all professionals (26 percent) would rather give up their first born than stop using their personal tech. However, that number drops to below 7 percent when respondents were asked about their enterprise technology.

In many cases, the innovative, easy-to-use technology we’ve come to know and love ceases to exist once we enter the workplace -- there is a profound digital downgrade that occurs for many as soon as they walk through the doors of their office. Nearly half of professionals (49 percent) agree that the applications and technology they use in their personal lives are more useful and make them more productive than those they use in their professional life.

To meet expectations, enterprise technology should not be burdensome or even middle of the road, it should empower people to focus on their core competencies, rather than spending hours in a cumbersome application trying to do something as simple as an expense report.

Administrative Tasks: Do I have to?

Half of respondents use software or applications to request time off (55 percent) and record time (48 percent). Expense reporting was also a common administrative task, with 36 percent of professionals indicating that they use a software system or application to execute the task. Despite the high levels of tech adoption associated with these specifics tasks, when given the options of one extra vacation day per year or free lunch once a week, one in five still said that they would prefer to never have to submit another expense or time report again.

How many solutions is too many and how long is too long?

It is not uncommon for organizations to adopt multiple applications or platforms to help their employees with administrative or operational tasks. In fact, according to respondents, it is most common (53 percent) that an enterprise organization has between two and four different solutions. Additionally, nearly one in ten professionals (nine percent), report using at least six different software solutions at their workplace. There is often a huge learning curve when employees are on-boarding with different software solutions, and well as wasted time spent logging into and out of different applications when an employee need to switch from software to software for each related task.

Not only do respondents report having to use multiple applications at work, but nearly one in three (32 percent) report spending three or more hours a month performing administrative tasks within said applications, and of those respondents, 21 percent spend five or more hours a month. Think of all that time spent on admin tasks, and imagine being able to dedicate it to product innovation, customer success, or other company growth opportunities.

Where to Improve?

When asked if they could change one thing about the technology they use at work, end-users most commonly cited usability (33 percent) or integration (34 percent) as the areas where they’d like to see improvement. While most respondents want better integrated and more intuitive technology at work, 14 percent point to increased automation as the area they would focus on first.

It is clear that enterprise technology vendors need to reprioritize the people their technologies are ultimately intended for. Technology should make your job easier, not more difficult. There is no reason that Uber can get a car to you with the click of a button, but an expense report requires dozens of clicks and significant time neglecting core responsibilities. This research provides a rough product roadmap to help enterprise tech vendors prioritize their efforts.

New Technologies

With professionals looking for intuitive automation tools, it is not surprising to see the growing adoption of technologies like chatbots. We’ve seen new consumer chatbot technology featured everywhere in the news, and chances are pretty good that you’ve asked your smartphone a question, such as what is the weather supposed to be like today, or where is the nearest gas station? However, what about in the enterprise? While chatbot technology could be a huge time saver in a professional setting, over one third of respondents (38%) have used a chatbot or digital assistant in their personal life, while only one in ten (11%) have used a chatbot or digital assistant in their professional life. Although use in a professional setting is low, workers who have used a chatbot in their personal lives are over one and half times more likely to trust a chatbot to take over work-related tasks.

Will these numbers change over time as chatbot technology becomes more familiar? We’re moving into the age of AI, machine learning and robots, but these technologies are not intended to eliminate jobs – they are intended to empower and elevate humans to focus on their core competencies and contribute more strategically to the enterprise. It will be interesting to see how these technologies evolve and subsequent sentiment, particularly within the enterprise.  

Conclusion

It is clear that many enterprise technology vendors are simply not getting it when it comes to what end-users actually want and need out of their technology. The recent research from Unit4 proves the industry might be taking end-users for granted, and it should serve as a rallying call to all enterprise tech vendors to reprioritize the people they claim to serve.

Unit4 remains deeply committed to ending the digital downgrade by bringing enterprise tools that not only make their end-user’s work days easier, but empower them to contribute to organizational success in more strategic and meaningful ways.

Survey Methodology

Unit4 collected responses from 1,057 US-based professionals, 18-years and older and employed full-time via a third-party provider to determine the findings of its Enterprise Technology Sentiment survey. Among those surveyed, 52 percent were female and median income was recorded between $50,000 and $99,999.

Emma Keates

Emma Keates

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