User Experience Means User Productivity | Unit4
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User Experience Means User Productivity

Delivering a great user experience is critical when optimising and automating processes — investments in user experience improve the ease with which staff can utilise powerful technology. Modern processes will change the way we work, but this need not mean staff adapting their ways of working purely to accommodate incoming technology. The incoming technology must be adapted to fit perfectly into business workflows, supporting staff where and when it matters. Users should feel that technology has arrived that will help them achieve their objectives more quickly with fewer barriers than what went before. Well designed systems should always offer the path of least resistance to staff when they need to take action, improving adoption and compliance and thereby maximising return on investment.  

The goal of process automation is often to remove human intervention as much as possible, but this should not distract from the fact that the process must still be designed with a user-first mindset. Automation is most powerful when it amplifies the power of humans, rather than when it replaces them. 

Ease of use also relates to speed — and saving the time of key staff is a primary benefit of process automation. Seemingly small changes to the design of an interface can have a large impact on the time taken to complete a process, particularly if a design weakness increases the chance of errors or failure to the process step being left incomplete. Simplicity is key and the standardisation of processes has an important role to play in achieving this. Fewer process variations means fewer buttons, boxes and clicks. 

The smarter the technology the faster and easier to use it can become. It can no longer be the case that sophisticated technologies require a correspondingly sophisticated skillset on the part of the user. Chatbots have long been recognised for their potential to give users access to multiple sophisticated technologies through the simplest possible interface. Chatbots are now being used to interact with smart automation processes, enabling users to direct workflows using plain text instructions, such as "conduct a credit check on customer x", without the need to switch systems or divert to email. 

An excellent and intuitive interface also reduces or even removes the need for training. This is an enormous advantage in the modern workforce where job changes are frequent and opportunities for training are limited. Removing the need for training also enables software providers to update software more frequently in the knowledge that users will be able to adapt instantly to upgrades as they arrive. Smart automation can move intuitive use to the next level by suggesting which action or selection the user should take next based on history and context.  

User experience is being redefined by increasingly intelligent automation; it is no longer limited to simplicity, efficiency and ease of use. Users will increasingly covet systems that also help them intelligently, preventing them from making errors or enabling them to make a recommendation. We are moving beyond a world where users would use their intuition to use a well designed system to one where the system uses its intuition to support users in achieving their particular goals. 

Tom Seal

Senior Research Director, IDC’s Enterprise Applications Group, Europe

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