Enterprise software is massive and clunky for a reason. It’s made to handle massive troves of data and complex workflow chains that likely jump between corporate offices on different continents. Today’s enterprise software is largely similar to the stuff that came out 20 years ago, in part because it’s too costly to transition to an entirely new system.
But as employees see consumer tech getting easier to use, the questions about why their company’s internal software is such a terrible user experience can begin to have a real impact on morale and ultimately retention. BMC Software, which has made IT assistance and server automation software for decades, felt it was time to respond: The company introduced an enterprise suite redesigned with consumer expectations in mind.
“Virtually all enterprise software sucks from a user standpoint,” says BMC area vice president of user experience George Kaempf, who spearheads the project. “That’s a fixable problem these days.”
BMC should know. Founded in the ’80s, the Houston-based company spent decades acquiring companies small and large such that their current offices and subsidiaries cover North America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. With over 6,000 employees worldwide, BMC has dozens of software offerings in IT service, server management, and cloud access. That requires a lot of communication and streamlined workflows.
Smart IT, set to be released next Tuesday, Oct. 7, is BMC’s revamped version of its Remedy software aimed at service desk employees. It’s mostly aimed at employees of call centers who handle diverse service requests and who may be contracted to multiple companies at once. This means data access is crucial, not just to look up solutions for the call center client’s problems, but to access different types of client operating system and software.
The key is being able to understand what the call center agent needs in a given point of time and how much workload Smart IT can handle. Combine this with a better front-end user experience for the call center agent and everything runs that much more quickly.
“Pick the world’s largest company and think about the number of employees they have,” Kaempf says. “To deliver better service to employees–that’s a real win for them.”
In Kaempf’s opinion, enterprise has been too focused on solving technical problems–not user problems. Massive data companies build better databases instead of fixating on how users can better access them.
“The real trick is how to use that tech to solve a problem,” Kaempf says. “For us, we ask ‘how do we resolve this caller’s problem in 60 seconds?’ If you focus on it that way, you become much more efficient and have better performance.”
BMC’s first pass at reinventing its software suite, MyIT, was a collaboration with tech consulting firm Artefact and came out back in March. “Since the end of March, we’ve had over 100 customers with over a million seats,” Kaempf says–“seats” being enterprise lingo for individual software licenses. While many of those customers had previously used BMC software, Kaempf says, MyIT is such a different approach that BMC doesn’t consider it a replacement or new iteration–it’s an entirely new system.
MyIT is aimed not at the agents, but employees inside the company that BMC services–that could be a salesperson, an administrator, or coder. By automating much of the software, employees don’t need to put in a help desk call every time they need to translate the byzantine workings of their enterprise software. MyIT replaces the need to have a specialist in IT to fulfill every request.
“I don’t need to know anything. I don’t need a specialized skill set. I can open up MyIT and find a printer without calling someone,” Kaempf says.
This comes in handy for Kaempf himself when he roams between BMC campuses and needs to find a conference room. MyIT tells him where it is via GPS and even whether the room’s services are compatible with his computer setup and, critically, whether the room’s services are working. And the upcoming Smart IT will open these features up beyond visitors: Field technicians, the guys fixing everything from printers to electrical wiring to lighting, will be able to use the software’s maps to navigate and locate appliances and circuit breakers.
Part of BMC’s journey has been learning and applying new workflow concepts within their own operations.
“It’s really about transforming whole product teams to see what users see,” Kaempf says. “Part of it is transforming the way the teams think about things and integrating agile development, because good designing goes hand in hand with agile development.”