A number of years ago when my niece first got her driver’s license, my brother-in-law got a panicked called from her in tears. In a shaky voice she said, “I pulled into a gas station next to the pump to fill up…now what do I do?”
I remembered this story recently when I spent some time in rural France. Having rented a car, I knew eventually I was going to need gas. Not speaking much French, it was something I avoided as long as possible. But eventually, even the fumes were running on empty.
If you’ve ever read any books by Peter Mayle, you know that French drivers don’t dawdle. That speed – call it efficiency – extends to the self-service gas station experience. It’s all about get in, get out and move on. When it was finally my turn, I felt the pressure from a long line of staring faces behind me. Don’t screw up.
But instead of channeling my niece and being confronted with “now what do I do,” here was an amazing thing: The gas pump was exactly the same as the pumps in the US (well, 99%). The same layout, the same color keys on the keypad, the same slot for a credit card – everything was instantly familiar. While I couldn’t read the instructions, I knew by long practice and muscle memory what to do and which keys to press.
I got in, got out and moved on. Voilà. It was the perfect example of intuitive user experience built into the design of the technology.
Source to pay solutions: Success will always be about user-first design.
A few months ago Constantine Limberakis, Determine’s Vice President of Product Marketing, wrote a three-part blog series exploring the many facets of user experience, the user interface and Google’s Material Design concepts and principles. Those blogs were partially spurred by a Spend Matters article about user experience needing to be more than just a pretty screen.
As Constantine highlighted, experience beyond the keyboard / screen interface includes a lot of functionality that happens without the user needing to do anything. This includes much of the innovation in the recent 17.6 Release of the Determine Cloud Platform – automation that enables organizations to save time, resources and effort. Workflow collaboration, process hand-offs, IFTTT (if this then that) machine learning – these are all UIX components.
It is worth noting that user experience includes the “pre-experience,” – implementation – a topic of a recent podcast with Trent Fairbrother, Implementation Manager at Determine. Implementation that encompasses “self-configuration,” i.e., customer understanding, engagement and involvement, leads to faster, easier successful implementations by front-loading and managing expectations.
UI/UX today and tomorrow.
In Part Two of the Spend Matters series, The Future of the Procurement Technology User Experience: Smart Systems and Messaging, Chat and Collaboration (MCC), they look at the evolution of the user experience. What’s interesting to note, is that they consider “ease of use” as the ante for being in this game – which accounts for the mad scramble we’re witnessing among vendors playing catch-up. This collective emphasis is attributed to the fact that companies “…are now becoming aware that the high-priced technology they acquire will only deliver an ROI if it gets used.”
This is something we tend to take for granted, since usability is always our focus. But excellence is a process, not a goal, so staying ahead of the development curve includes how Determine approaches the user experience. What’s cutting-edge now may not be so next week. User-first means seeing ahead to how customers will be working a year to five years ahead, and having the flexibility to design that in to our solutions. Spend Matters identifies areas that are going to play a major role in this, including:
- Artificial intelligence (AI) smart systems
- Real-time messaging
- Chat and collaboration (MCC) frameworks
- Integrated dashboards
- Advanced mobile capability
Considering these and many more developments, what “digital transformation” means in source-to-pay will continue to transform for a long time.
You can’t leverage what you can’t use.
Determine’s Senior Solutions Engineer, Gene Travers, has been conducting demonstrations of our source-to-pay solutions for prospects and customers for a long time. Recently, he began a series of live SolutionWise Demo Webinars to open up the audience to anyone who is interested in seeing what state-of-the-art looks like. The impetus for doing those came out of our own research into the contract and supplier management marketplace in order to gauge current attitudes and issues. Overwhelmingly, people out there are experiencing issues with usability.
Having a customer-first product development approach, this is not something Determine has had to deal with. Single sign-on, Material Design principles, consumer-oriented navigation – these all play a critical role in how we make our solutions usable and leverageable for customers. As Gene notes, ease-of-use is the single biggest factor in whether your solution adoption is a success or not.
You can have all the training in the world, but if your procurement, sourcing, contract management or other solution isn’t intuitive and quick to pick up on, teams aren’t going to get on board. And that means your whole investment, implementation and deployment are going to run out of gas before you’ve gotten anywhere.
If you’re ready to experience the latest in UIX, contact us to schedule a personalized demonstration, or register to be included in our next SolutionWise Demo Webinar.