On demand enterprise applications require a native balance between “use-as-is” and configurability
The On Demand space creates a new and different kind of solutions. The new generation of millenium user grew up with Internet, Facebook and Web 2.0. The tolerance of this new group of user against bad user experience is close to zero. An application, downloaded from or used in the web as on demand solution must be self-explaining, easy to use, intuitive and, most important, must generate results (or fun in case of games) within a short period of time. And we’re talking minutes, maybe hours, not days. This creates the perfect user centric experience. It is for me and creates value for myself. I use it because it increases my personal productivity or is in some way of use/fun for me.
If a solution does not fit this criteria it will be removed from the PC immediately. This kind of user experience requires a strictly predefined configuration. Personal configuration might be possible but is not part of the first level of user experience. “I get it and I use it immediately” is key to the community. For more advanced user some configuration should apply but is not required for first solution experience. In first place it keeps user away from experiencing the application. Onboarding to a new application must require hours, maybe days but not weeks.
This is in strong opposite to the classical enterprise solution architecture. Solutions are designed to meet the process owner requirements. The solution architecture as well as tools to describe processes allow high complexity and strongly tailored individual processes. This process centric approach allows to visualize and execute unlimited complexity and individuality. It helped and will help enterprise organisation to execute processes in best manner and with highest efficiency for the corporate organisation. No doubt this is the backend ensuring corporate compliance and efficiency. For the end user experience it contains an obstacle within the system. Significant upfront time investment is required ti describe and allign processes. During that time the personal productivity is not increased at all. Often the opposite take place. User are engaged in workshops, the results are intransparent to them during that phase. Corporate processes might also require input from users who might not get a significant improvement of their personal productivity at all.
On demand enterprice solutions need to deliver nothing less than a 1st class user experience combined with an backend orchestration to ensure enterprise integrity of data and processes. This challenge is much more than a packaged solution for a classical enterprise application or just a new user interface. Experience an on demand solution starts with an 1st class and fast onboarding experience. An URL and login to start, minimal configuration effort if connected to the backend ERP is key to invite a new customer into the on demand space. Once being in the cloud the user will experience a different way of using a solution, finding the way through the application without long pre-reads of handbooks or trainings. But further experience will be that an on demand application requires in some cases more disciplin in standarization of processes. Different than in ” on premise” not everything is possible everywhere.
Standardization is key to bring solutions into the cloud which are shared by a large community. Data security and data segragation in separate tenants is a must, of course, but companies that are used to deploy on premise solution will experience the limitation of changing processes completely. In the classical enterprise environment solution updates have been planned carefully and modifications/configuration might have been obstacles. In the on demand world a large community has individual data but is using the same solution core. The management of the on demand application incl. availabilty, security and hardware ressources is in the solution providers responsibility. Also updates have to be managed centrally. This requires a core application that does not create any conflict while being updated. End user might not even experience an update happened unless they recognize additional or enhanced functionality.
I’m sure all of us have made our experience already with on demand applications used in our private life. The next version of our favourite webmail account like GMX, our professional social network like LINKED-IN or a favourite market place like amazon, none of us experienced missing emails, missing friends or lost auctions while enjoying the next version of the solution. I’m sure most user did not even see an update of a private used on demand application as a pittfall for their data at all.
On demand enterprise application now need to carefully balance between configurability and a “use as is” approach to really deliver against the expectation of a Line of Business User of a new and different user experience on the one hand and the need of a corporate organisation to tailor to specific needs. The challenge is not less than to incorporate best of both worlds to a unique new generation of solutions.