If You Build it, Will They Adopt?

 

Everyone, it seems, has been talking about the user experience and its impact on mobility adoption. I know I am a big proponent. But then, why is it that while the corporate mobility band wagon is full, the adoption is just simply not there? I have met with a number of IT executives who say that everyone wants mobility, and they have spent the resources to give them the apps, only to have barely anyone use it, unless they have to.

There are a number of reasons, and I would like to mention a few.

Does it ease their pain?

For one, enterprise mobility seems to revolve around submitting expense reports, approving purchase orders and vacation requests. So the apps most commonly deployed allow these tasks to be completed on mobile devices. But reality is that most executives and senior managers have admins who actually do this, and by shifting it to their mobile device adds – not eliminates – their workload.

Does it go the distance?

Second, when IT is asked to deliver a mobility solution, the methodology is very clear – gather requirements from users, create functional specs, design, develop, test and deploy. It is also true that barely any one on that team had gone through the old process and experienced it firsthand. So the project becomes more about efficiency from an IT perspective. To create a true mobility experience, IT should take a customer-centric approach, understand the end goal that the business is trying to achieve and then create the new experience.

“The only thing we had in common was that she was from Iowa, and I had once heard of Iowa.”

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I was talking to a senior safety executive about our safety observation app, HSE2Go. HSE2Go (Health, Safety and the Environment) allows workers to report potential safety hazards to the relevant supervisors. Generally, in most organizations it is a paper-based process where workers enter their observation and drop it in a suggestion box or give it to an admin. The executive said, “You know what, our IT department has recently deployed a similar app. However we are not seeing a lot of adoption. Maybe it is because they don’t want to use personal phones for this.” Obviously, I got curious and asked if I could see it.

The executive then calls one of his HSE managers who comes over with a ruggedized iPad tablet. My first question was, “Are you replacing paper cards with these tablets for everyone?” Manager said that they will provide one for each location and workers can come in and find the iPad and enter their observations. He then proceeded to start the iPad, entered his pin, clicked on the app icon that asked him to enter a user ID and password. This prompted my second question, “Do the workers need to enter a user ID and password when they fill out the paper form?” Obviously it was a rhetoric question but it drew a smile from the executive.

The manager continued with the demo, showed me the list of about 20 questions that the worker will answer about potential hazard that was observed. This leads to my third question, “I have seen your paper observation card, and it asks about 4 questions. How come this mobile version is asking a lot more?” “Oh, because we were limited in space on the paper card, but here we can ask more things”, replies the manager.

He then completed the answers, and entered his name, today’s date and then went through a list of about 275 department/location names to find his department. Funny thing was that the names of the warehouses and departments were in that “intelligent code” form, such as WH423341 representing the warehouse in Lake Charles, LA (where 42 was the code for Lake Charles, 3 was the shipping area and the rest was some extension).

I could not help proceeding to my fourth question, “You just signed in using active directory. Why do you need to enter all this information, for every card, every time”? The HSE manager, who worked with the development team, shrugged and said security is very important to IT. Additionally, since there will be only be one iPad per location, they have to capture the name and department to respond appropriately.

I have just created something totally illogical.”

If you have read to this point, then I hope that you know where I am going with this post. The paper process was simpler than the new process with the mobile app.

First, the paper safety cards are available in multiple areas in a location, plus the majority generally carry them on person. Workers can actually fill out the card when they see the issue. With the new process, the potential hazard cannot be documented when it is observed, the worker has to find the iPad at the location.

Second, there is no security protocol required to fill out a paper card. Actually they encourage their contractors and even visitors to fill one out. That will not be possible with the new mobile system. The mobile phone already has a finger print scan or pin. To ask for another user ID and password with two-factor authentication to fill out a safety card is an overkill.

Third, the workers could answer the four questions rather quickly, enter their name and department, and where they saw the potential hazard. In responding to the 20+ questions on the mobile app, the workers felt like they were taking an exam.

We all know that change is always hard – even if it makes life easy, people resist it. That is natural human behavior. If the intent of this mobile app was to replace the paper process to simplify it, this company definitely went out of their way to make the new process harder.

The IT group focused on the things that matter most to them: ensuring security, capturing data for analytics and managing the cost of deploying mobile devices. What was very clear in this case was that no one in the IT group completed the paper safety card, ever. If IT did not experience the current process, its shortcomings and challenges, then how can they design something that can make it simpler for the users?

When it comes to mobility, the KISS principle applies. And users will decide if it is worth their effort to change.

 

(enjoying the Field of Dreams quotes? Find more here!)