Current methodologies in use throughout software development life cycles are complex, expensive and time consuming – regardless of approach. Without applying human-centered design – even after following a series of “proven” steps (e.g., define, design, test, refine and implement) – the final product may not be comprised of solutions that fulfill the actual needs of intended users.
As you might expect, most “final” products don’t satisfy all user needs and leave some users feeling alienated by a tool that doesn’t work as expected. Incremental software updates, optimizing built-in features and adding others that were “missing” ad hoc, can only do so much to change any negative first impressions.
“What if the software itself could learn about an individual’s behavior and adapt accordingly?”
Employing a human-centered design methodology – by including designers early in the development process and creating solutions based on human needs and behaviors, not just technical specifications – can mitigate these risks to a product launch. In fact, design thinking has been proven to dramatically increase adoption rates, customer satisfaction and retention while reducing development costs and time to market. As a result, the Design Management Institute reports that design-driven companies outperform the S&P 500 by a whopping 219%.
Human-centered design can not only ensure the successful rollout of an enterprise system, but also effectively identify and solve problems within an existing system. But, what if the software itself could learn about an individual’s behavior and adapt accordingly? The software could, for instance, highlight the most commonly used functions and display them in a logical way, thus helping the user work more efficiently.
Enterprise system interfaces are often riddled with nondescript buttons and never-used functionality. Adaptive software would take notice of and address this, hiding or displaying options and tools based on user preferences and history. The result is a continuously self-optimizing system driven by human-centered design.
Consider, for example:
- Call center software that learns from CSR interactions and optimizes workflows to reduce average handle time
- Accounting software that plans for an approaching tax season and highlights the most relevant data and financial information needed for tax purposes
- Educational software that reinforces specific areas of study where students need practice
- Construction software that adapts to each phase of the build process
But we shouldn’t limit automated human-centered design thinking to siloed systems. What if software deployments could communicate with one another, learning how the larger landscape of groups and organizations work? Consider, for example, how the enterprise could apply real-time information crowdsourcing similar to Waze.
Science fiction? Not really – this future is closer to reality than we might think. Automated human-centered design has significant potential, provided that the end user always remains in control.