The biggest trend in enterprise software in 2018 is automation, due to digitalisation, and it’s causing some difficulty for enterprises that haven’t perceived of a world where software, not employees, is the new customer interface.
By Jaco Viljoen, agile consultant at IndigoCube

It’s not difficult for them to understand how to overcome the issues they currently face in their transition to this new world. But it is difficult to implement because it requires a new way of thinking and a bold approach to achieve the levels of success that automation through digitalisation promises.

Most businesses today already recognise that automation is strategically important and tied to the user experience.

Many companies have dabbled with lean-agile software development and realised that you must automate if you want to achieve the digital enterprise. However, the aim is to automate entire business processes, not create the islands of automation that are so typical of the past.

For example, customers would previously talk to employees who would capture information on internal systems, but now we want customers to interact directly with the business via the software.

And that’s a difficult concept for most businesspeople to wrap their heads around because software of the past just did not cut the customer interaction mustard. Old software is cumbersome, difficult, and usually requires training for employees while customers in the digital era want quick, mobile ease of use that gives them immediate visible access to the functions they want.

You don’t need to explain to anyone that it makes sense to give their customers these benefits but some organisations are still stuck in the thinking that their employees should use the old enterprise systems. But employees should also benefit from better automated solutions that are easy to use and accessible. I’m saying there won’t be a difference between internal and external interfaces so employees and customers will use the same interface.

One of the local banks sees future branches where employees are only there to help customers complete necessary applications on the customer’s tablet or cellphone. Branch tellers will no longer capture information. And most customers will simply perform the process wherever they want and not come into the branch at all. Employees and customers will use the same software with the same interface.

Moving the customer interface from human beings to software makes the user experience paramount. And nothing drives customers away faster than a shoddy interface that hides functionality behind befuddling terms and jargon. The software has to be of the highest quality and quite different from the way we usually design software today.

Bespoke solutions are probably the only current way to achieve this.

Solutions will really differentiate our businesses from competitors because customers engage directly with the software. And that means that packaged software solutions as they are today cannot be the face of your company.

Customers want to quickly and efficiently get to what they want to do, to achieve the result they’re looking for, and get on with their lives. They want immediate value for their interactions. But most enterprise software solutions today are quite cumbersome. It’s difficult to customise these enterprise solutions to the point where customers can use them the way they would like to because the solutions were never really designed to be customised to that extent.

They were designed for the mass market, in most cases requiring companies to adjust their operations to suit the solution, which usually incorporated industry best practice to an extent. And that’s why in most cases you would simply be better off designing a new solution to meet modern customer and employee requirements.

One of the key features of the modern solutions will be your ability to quickly and easily change and adapt them to evolving market and customer needs and benefit. That’s a crucial element of the digitalised economy. Traditional enterprise software simply cannot do this and it makes for a terrible customer interface.

If you want to be competitive today and you want to get the growth that digitalisation promises then you have to automate entire processes and present them to customers through bespoke solutions that talk directly to what customers have come to expect from consumer apps.