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One could argue that users can put up with a poorly designed application if it allows them to accomplish their given task, especially if that task only happens once in a while. However, in this day of newer, faster and shinier, technology can become yesterday’s news if a user finds a better experience elsewhere.
Another could argue that innovation is the reason that a technology solution is on the market in the first place. It’s what gets the technology purchased and implemented by enterprises, and ultimately put in the hands of the users. So, the question becomes, what’s more important? That your technology is cutting edge, or that your users actually use it? The answer is both.
Here are a few keys to ensure that technology innovation will not just improve your software offering, but also help the end users it’s intended to serve.
Know What Drives Your User Base
Various users throughout your organization have different needs. Some might be focused on cost saving initiatives, while others are more worried about processes. Break your users into different groups and understand each. Your everyday, casual user is likely very interested in the path of least resistance, whereas your finance team is more concentrated on making sure all things numbers-related are on point and reliable. Don’t lump all of your user communities together when looking at how to innovate. Know them, their different needs and keep them front of mind when determining where to innovate next.
Get Feedback to Stay Ahead of the Curve
Your user base can be your best advocate or toughest opponent. Don’t just assume your latest innovation was the silver bullet that was the solution to all of their issues; ask for their feedback and take it into consideration. They can be an insightful sounding board and help validate your thinking on “where next.” And it’s important to keep asking. If they feel valued and involved, they’re less likely to resist change.
Understand Where the Industry is Headed in the Future
Talk to your users about where they see their business needs going and how your technology may be able to help. Understand their big picture so you know how the puzzle pieces fit together. For example, in the procurement world of spend management, many organizations are working to understand their total spend for all labor — both employees and non-employees. As an innovation, SAP Fieldglass and SAP SuccessFactors built an integration that enables organizations to have a total and seamless picture of their entire workforce. A clean design will help drive adoption, as the users not only see value in the information, but with the ease in which they can see the data. This is a good example of a win-win: user adoption and technology innovation working together.
In the end, both user adoption and technology innovation are equally important and one cannot be successful without the other. If we did not have a user base leveraging the technology, we wouldn’t know if we were truly creating a powerful and positive experience. On the other hand, without innovation, technology would no longer be helpful. Keep them intertwined and know their impact on and importance to one another so that your technology can not only grow, but thrive.