In the past, bad technology usability was considered normal; today, this will spell the death of internal IT.
Traditionally, IT has been ridiculously bad at making things easy for customers. Traditionally, IT has also had a monopoly on providing corporate IT.
IT no longer has the monopoly. IT is now in competition with many, many service providers. The old news that some still haven’t processed: if IT pros are smart, they won’t try to compete, but instead will add value as a service broker and business technology linkage.
I do not believe, as some do, that internal IT is necessarily doomed. But I do believe that a fork in the road is coming, and soon. Pick the wrong fork, and it will be Doomsville.
That fork in the road will be all about usability. It will essentially be a reptile brain decision.
The reptile brain thought process for business owners and executives will be something like this: “Makes it easy for me? Keep.” vs “Makes it hard for me? Get rid of.”
It is very clear now that previous generations of technology were overcomplicated, sacrificing usability (that everybody wanted except for IT) for a focus on complex tech (that nobody wanted except for IT).
New tech that involves customer experience design, usability testing, and rigorous simplification has eaten the lunch of tech that hasn’t bothered with these things. Less text. More graphics. Less use of techie acronyms. More simple words.
Bad websites have ruthlessly fallen to website Darwinism. Have a bad, slow, complicated website? These factors are what designers and marketers call ‘friction,’ and it is clear that friction makes customers go elsewhere.
It is not too much of a leap to suppose that full-of-friction corporate websites and IT services will fall to the same phenomenon, once employees figure out that something better is possible.
The new news: Employees will not only figure it out, in many organizations, they already have figured it out.
The time of reckoning is not just coming, it’s already here.
The best thing that you can do if you’re in corporate IT is to fix usability problems. Fix them NOW. Start asking the question: “why do we have security standards, but no usability standards?” And hope like hell that your leadership takes this question seriously.
The best that you can do if you’re a corporate IT customer is to tell corporate IT about stupid, incomprehensible instructions, and slow web sites, and difficult-to-use applications. And hope like hell that someone at corporate IT gets it and cares enough to fix it.