The tech industry is dominated by buzzwords: actionable, cutting-edge, interoperable and, perhaps most popular of all, intuitive. Since its earliest days as a company, Apple (then Apple Computers) differentiated its products from competitors by focusing on intuitiveness, over time building one of the most influential brands in the world by creating devices that are beloved by technophiles and technophobes alike. This strategy helped spur mass adoption and brand loyalty that has lasted for decades and, in turn, ushered in a new era of tech-usage for the common consumer.
Just as consumer tech has prioritized ease-of-use and function, the solutions employed in the workplace should seek to create a reliable experience for every user. We continue to develop ways to help us work faster and smarter, but to be truly indispensable, these tools must also reflect the streamlined nature so integral to business to consumer (B2C) technology.
This focus on intuitiveness goes beyond simple usability and design. Rather, a third factor — consistency — maintains an important role in the development life cycle. Whether interacting with a phone, tablet or laptop, Apple users know they will be able to log on and enjoy the benefits of the platform with little to no issues, a differentiator Apple famously incorporated into its marketing with claims that an Apple product “just works.”
This multifaceted, yet consistent interface enables users to not only familiarize themselves with processes among multiple devices but to become experts. It’s this type of thinking that needs to be at the forefront of workplace technology.
The Changing Workforce
A perceptible culture shift is currently taking place around the United States, with the traditional 9 to 5 being replaced with flexible hours, virtual meetings in the airport and conference calls taken from the back of Uber rides. In a recent survey of U.S. knowledge workers, one in four employees said they would turn down a job that doesn’t offer certain tools to enable remote working. It’s becoming increasingly clear that time physically spent in the office is no longer equated with productivity and, as such, collaboration tools will play a central role in how we work and communicate moving forward.
While the C-suite has used video conferencing solutions for quite some time, we’re now seeing widespread integration of multiple collaboration options — video, content sharing, digital signage and more — into all levels of the workplace, both for internal and external communications. The benefits are clear: These solutions enable more personal and direct work while also allowing feedback to be delivered in real time (as opposed to asynchronous communication like email) so that projects and timelines can be shortened.
However, this expanded role also means that the experience delivered by collaboration solutions must be intuitive, and above all else, reliable. Meetings can sometimes include dozens of participants — each person dialing in from a separate location — so quality and performance are imperative. Additionally, with colleagues joining via any number of endpoints, from high-end conference room systems to personal devices, providers must accommodate a variety of different operating systems and form factors.
How many conference calls have lost their luster because of compatibility failures or a presentation not displaying content properly? We have started to unravel the needs of the modern worker, but we must focus on adapting our technologies to their on-the-go mentalities and fast-paced workflows. Whether in the office, at home or on the train, collaboration solutions present an opportunity to deliver unparalleled levels of teamwork (even virtual teamwork), but we have to make them second nature to use.
Seamless in The Moments That Matter
At my company, we’re committed to creating the most seamless user experience possible. Consistency is a value that drives our entire development pipeline and has led us to explore both hardware and software options with a singular goal in mind: Our products will work the way the modern organization prefers to work. Functionality and quality are integral to our services, and they must be able to work in the moments that matter, regardless of any mitigating factors such as location, number of users or method of connectivity.
In the future, we will likely see an increased focus on intuitiveness across the collaboration sphere, in large part driven by an industry-wide willingness to work with one another. Greater levels of consistency will arise as we move away from siloed offerings into larger, more collaborative platforms. New options like subscription services attached to APIs will make it possible for different companies to offer their services on the same platform, so we’ll see disparate capabilities, such as meeting scheduling, content sharing, video conferencing, presentation tools and more merge into singular, easy-to-adopt solutions.
As we head into 2020, it has become increasingly important for solution providers to double down on investments to make using their services feel second nature for the end user. Workers are constantly juggling different tasks, priorities and projects, so the technology they use must be specifically designed for their needs. Once that happens, we’ll start to see a shift where workplace tools are just as intuitive (and indispensable) as the latest iPhone or Android devices, in turn, fostering increased trust, productivity and satisfaction.