Usability: the Key to RevTech Success
Ed King, CEO and founder of Openprise
How Can You Assess Good Usability?
One of the key challenges RevOps teams face today is how to build a scalable RevTech stack that can support ever more aggressive growth targets in an increasingly evolving business environment. What does it mean to have a scalable RevTech stack? It means technology that can:
- Handle data volumes that are increasing exponentially in terms of both the number of records and data silos.
- Be used by more people to work with large data sets, automate processes, and democratize access to data, so there’s less dependency on IT or consultancies.
- Support an agile approach to experimentation and deployment, so the technology can keep pace with changes.
To meet all these scalability requirements, RevOps professionals evaluating solutions rightfully want to ensure the solutions are “easy to use,” but what exactly does that mean?
Here are the three aspects of usability we recommend you incorporate into your evaluation criteria for RevOps solutions.
User Interface vs. User Experience
Probably the most common issue is mistaking user interface (UI) for user experience (UX). A good UI is a critical part of achieving good UX, but it’s only part of the UX puzzle.
The first point of confusion is when people assume the visual appearance of the UI—whether it looks modern or pretty—directly affects usability. The perception is that an attractive UI translates to a good UX, and vice versa. While a good-looking UI certainly helps improve the UX, it has little to do with how well the UI helps users complete tasks efficiently. A good analogy is an Italian supercar vs. a Honda. The Italian supercar looks gorgeous, but poor usability makes it an impossible choice, while a Honda may not win any beauty contests, but its everyday usability is hard to beat.
Another key question when it comes to UX quality is defining the user. Enterprise software must cater to different user roles and different user maturities. For user roles, administrators must configure, administer, and debug the application. Some users interact with the application in limited ways, infrequently, and usually for a short time. They may be novice users who are new to the application or simply don’t use it enough to achieve a higher level of expertise. Power users, however, are mature users who know the application well, and spend considerable time using it in an advanced manner.
When it comes to evaluating UX, you need to understand who’s using the application. A UI optimized for power users can appear confusing to novice users, while a UI optimized for novice users can be cumbersome and inefficient for power users. Unless the application offers different UIs for different levels of expertise, then you need to determine the level of expertise you expect your users to gain, and judge UX from that vantage point.
It’s difficult to judge the quality of a power user UX when you’re not familiar with the product. So ask power users and lean on their input to make the appropriate decisions.
Product Level UX vs. Stack Level UX
The modern RevOps stack is complex, with 20+ products in even the simplest architecture. Each process may involve more than a handful of products, orchestrated using standard operating procedures and middleware. Due to this stack complexity and interaction between different products, you can easily find yourself building out a stack of best-in-class products, with each product having great UX individually, but because of the stack dynamic, the resulting UX across a business process can become poor. This degradation of “aggregated UX” can be attributed to a few root causes:
- The complexity introduced by product interactions.
- The complexity introduced by middleware or manual processes required to make the products work together.
- The lack of a single place to see all the data together.
- The lack of product expertise because there are too many product UI’s to master.
Many companies today are looking to simplify their RevTech stack by turning to platforms to replace multiple point solutions. The flexibility of a platform enables companies to automate many business processes using a single technology, offers a single unified data repository and UI, and reduces the need for manual processes. The inherent power and flexibility of a platform usually means the UI can appear more difficult to use and have a longer learning curve than point solutions. But it’s not a fair comparison. To accurately assess the UX of a platform vs. point solution(s), you need to assess at the stack level, or at least at the process level. When judged on that equal footing, a platform-based approach often provides superior UX. For example:
- The administrator only has to learn one platform UI versus five different point-solution UIs, so it’s easier to gain a higher level product expertise faster.
- After the initial learning curve, adding more use cases to a platform requires minimal incremental learning, as opposed to learning a new product.
- The end user only has to log in and interact with one UI vs. many, reducing support and training requirements.
Concentrated UX vs Distributed UX
RevOps processes rarely involve only one user. These are the stakeholders that often play an active role in any RevOps process:
- RevOps administrators: who set up and manage the technology stack.
- Business users: that want easy access to the data and ability to interact with it, like building segmentations and campaign lists.
- Data and policy owners: who create, curate, and handle governance different data sets and business rules. For example, a marketing analytics team that manages input to attribution and scoring models.
- Management: who need visibility through reports and dashboards
- Channel partners: that need to access or enter data securely.
If a product has a great UI for the administrator, and a good “concentrated UX,” but lacks the proper UX for other stakeholders to securely and easily access data and participate in business processes, requiring the administrator to play gatekeeper, then the “distributed UX” is poor. So to accurately evaluate a product’s UX, you need to understand all the stakeholders and how each will interact with the product to maximize efficiency through delegated administration and self-service UI.