The Doc Brown Principal Applied to Enterprise Software


Posted in Marketing
By Neil Laing on June 24, 2016

delorean-time-machine

Marty McFly:
Wait a minute. Wait a minute, Doc. Ah… Are you telling me that you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?

Dr. Emmett Brown:
The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?

As a UI designer for over 20 years I’ve noticed that many people have allowed enterprise software User Experience (UX) / User Interface (UI) design bar to be set pretty low. There is inherent complexity in building something for the enterprise level. It often involves a multitude of stakeholders each with complex business processes and many layers of existing technology being brought together to innovate new technologies in order to build a tool so earth shattering that the very last thought anyone may be considering is: will it be easy to use? Often answered with, who cares! This software will streamline/automate/make-better every one’s lives!! If it’s cumbersome to use, deal with it because this is better.

Take Salesforce for example. Theoretically it is the business tool sent from above to increase productivity and sales of any sized sales team in any sized organization. You can create custom drop down menus, tables, graphs and reports with a simple click of the mouse… or 87. Seemingly Salesforce has more capabilities than most tools of its nature, but unlocking the possibilities proves only easy for those who are computer savvy or trained. For a tool people are supposed to use all day everyday, it’s not exceptionally easy on the eyes. It’s a workhorse for sure, but it’s Doc Brown’s time machine in a pick up: utility first.

We all know what it’s like to struggle with a UX that’s just not right. We encounter options that make no sense or spend countless minutes hunting around an interface looking for functions that seem to be playing hide-n-seek in Expert Mode. Better still, we are now all becoming aware of what it’s like to have a beautiful UX. We download a new app, sign up, and start using it in seconds without the slightest hiccup, awkward pause or dumbfounded look – just the pure enjoyment of something that makes perfect digital sense. Heck, I even filed my taxes using online software and it was so easy. I just input my information, answered the questions, reviewed the advice and sent it off to the government.

Building technology to help enterprise wide is a mountain that is worth climbing. In the global retail landscape the success or failure of any one retailer will be dependent on making the right decisions on a global level to engage with customers on an individual level. Enterprise wide the culture needs to be focused on one-to-one relationship building. This will only be possible with platforms and tools that allow everyone in the organization to understand not just their business objectives but their customers themselves. Building these tools is a worthy challenge – making them useful is a necessary challenge.

In the race to own our cell phone budget Blackberry clearly called dibs. According to a UX designer at RIM they wanted to continue to lead the field by building on the great user experience by adding a camera and opening the platform up to more “fun” apps. The strategy from the top was: NO FUN… this is a serious business tool not a toy. That strategy would have been asking doc brown to build his time machine in domestic sedan… a good practical, reliable vehicle.

At Rubikloud we’ve built a team of engineers, data scientists, analysts and machine learning experts that are assembling platforms that allow massive global retailers to better understand and engage with their millions of customers. Our team is building algorithms and data models that empower teams of people to act with clear strategic direction. Making the UX of these tools means bringing this technology into the hands of global retail managers and executives in a way that they can see, understand and take action on. If not for a smooth UX then this type of innovation is valueless because its value is lost in the complex, cumbersome user layer. That leaves the UX team at Rubikloud with a responsibility to make sure our innovation is never lost in this layer. We do approach our design with one guiding UX principal:

If you’re gonna build the worlds best data science, why not do it with some style?

Photo credit:
Delorean: JMortonPhoto.com & OtoGodfrey.com