When you think about user experience in software applications, Apple and the iPhone immediately come to mind. With the advent of cloud-computing and the BYOD (bring your own device) movement, employees started to question why their enterprise software vendors couldn’t look more like the consumer products they were use to seeing at home.
If in the beginning software providers thought this was passing hype, now they are in full speed trying to catch up to their consumer counterparts. Besides, if you are a software vendor and your product interface still looks like it was made in the 90’s, then you better watch out for your competitors updating the look-and-feel of their own applications.
Such a change in user perception and the opportunities this new movement brought had a profound impact in the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) market. And it seems that one key publisher, SAP, has learned the lesson of less fortunate competitors because their products have been getting better to look at and to use.
We have heard from clients and we continue to surprise prospects when doing demos that the screens have a distinctly good appeal. The SAP ERP that many knew of from the 1990’s is now a completely different product.
The image above shows SAP R/2 and SAP R/3, from the 1990’s
Compare for example the screenshot above, of SAP’s product in the 90’s, with their new offering, SAP Business ByDesign, an ERP system focused in the SMB (small and mid-sized businesses), below.
Screenshot of SAP Business ByDesign, the cloud ERP solution, as of 2012
The difference is quite clear. It’s easier on the eyes and more importantly, it is easier to use.
An interesting short video created by SAP talks about their process of creating this nice user experience for their Business ByDesign product. Check it out below:
To learn more about the evolution of the SAP Business ByDesign interface, there’s an interesting SlideShare presentation that shows screenshots from early product mockups until recently.
Also, see more of the history of Product Branding at SAP at:http://www.sapdesignguild.org/goodies/branding_history.asp
While a great user interface wasn’t that critical back in the early days of the ERP, now it is essential for user adoption. When looking for an ERP or business management system for your own company, look at how the different vendors compare in user experience. It may well be the critical factor for successful user adoption.