Businesses today must move faster, with greater accuracy, and zero downtime to deliver a competitive customer experience. IT leaders are tasked with balancing what the business needs to achieve with what its employees need to be productive and successful. In IT, this primarily comes down to user experience.
So the question IT leaders constantly weigh when choosing new tools is: “Does this tool meet the goals of what IT needs to deliver to the business, but in a way that is easy for my teams to use?”
“Ease of use” is top of mind for IT leaders today. In fact, in a recent JumpCloud study, more than 40% of senior IT leaders ranked “product ease of use” as a reason for choosing the IT tools they did. The fact that a product “offers ease of use compared to the existing solution” was the number one factor influencing IT leaders’ purchasing and usage decisions.
In this article, we’ll examine what makes a tool easy to use, explore IT leadership’s heavy prioritization of usability, and discuss the balance between usability and effectiveness.
Defining Ease of Use
The formal technology acceptance model (TAM) evaluates ease of use by combining perceived usability with perceived ease of use to predict user adoption. Whether or not you use this formalized assessment method, you’ll need to understand the usability factors that matter to your team. Some of the most common priority factors for IT teams include:
Low code/no code. Coding takes time. Low code/no code tools not only save tremendous amounts of time, but also allow people with less technical expertise to use them. The option to use an interface or code is even better, serving experts and more lay users at once.
Automation. If the tool automates processes and workflows, it saves time, reduces human error, improves accuracy, and accomplishes tasks faster than humans can. This frees up humans’ time so they can focus on deeper dives, analyses, creativity, relationship building, strategy, and other initiatives computers can’t fully replicate.
Minimal toil. Any tool that saves on toil improves productivity and efficiency and frees your team to focus on higher value work.
Security built in. Tools that have security baked in make life so much easier for your team and for the business. Look for ones that support Zero Trust, the recommended security approach for modern environments.
Integrates easily. If it doesn’t easily integrate with your tech ecosystem, it won’t matter how easy it is to use. It has to play nice in order to deliver true value.
Lets you sleep through the night. If the tool lets your team sleep through the night, it improves their quality of life and their satisfaction with work. This helps with overall employee recruitment and retention.
Built to evolve. The tool needs to be built to evolve as the ecosystem and technology changes and grows.
Why So Much Emphasis on Ease of Use?
Products that are easy to use are faster to use. That creates faster outcomes. The business wins, and so does the user.
But ease of use ripples out in an array of other benefits as well, such as:
- Faster ramp time for new tools and time to value
- Lower training costs
- Ability to recruit/hire non-expert level IT professionals (lower employee cost)
- Improved employee satisfaction
- Improved productivity, as time isn’t wasted on complex or hard to use tools
- Faster outcomes
- Increased innovation, as DevOps or IT isn’t grappling with cumbersome tools and workflows
- The ability to drive the business forward with confidence that IT can respond quickly to change
As IT leaders choose what to add to their tech stack, they evaluate tools based on a variety of criteria — ease of use being foremost, and then cost, according to the survey.
Balancing Ease of Use with Additional Factors
Where this gets tricky is when you’re dealing with outdated or legacy tools; it gets even messier when you’re dealing with infrastructure and tooling in mergers and acquisitions.
There are times when the easiest-to-use tool may not win out:
- The tool doesn’t integrate easily with your tech ecosystem, or the manual integrations needed will take up too much time and resources.
- Heavy customizations to the current stack would require more resources than the budget allows in order to adopt the new tool.
- Tool bias. People have opinions and biases based on their preferences, experience, and ingrained ways of doing things.
- Lack of business use case. Without a solid use case, justifying the funding and change management required to adopt it may be hard.
- Inertia. Some companies — especially those entrenched in legacy solutions — hesitate to implement new technology if it will require a significant pivot or take a great deal of time, labor, and resources to implement at the outset.
- Lack of security. Sometimes, a total lack of friction can point to a lack of security. Tools shouldn’t sacrifice security for ease of use; instead, the two should blend together for a seamlessly secure experience. Some tools can be integrated into directory services or combined with additional security software to offset certain vulnerabilities.
- Cost. Cost will always be part of the discussion around new tool adoption. Even if the face-value cost is high, however, many modern, easy-to-use tools save companies money over time. Look at tools’ ROI stats, and compare their costs to the aggregate cost of the tools they’d replace. Platforms that can take the place of several tools, for example, often help a company save on the total cost of ownership associated with IT.
Striking a Balance
The ideal tool should accomplish business goals with benefits that outweigh the costs. Considering IT leadership’s high prioritization of ease of use, weigh usability factors heavily in your cost-benefit analyses; if it’s extremely easy to use, that’s a huge plus. Conversely, if it’s difficult to use, it would need to offer substantial benefits to outweigh this negative.
Start with the Right Foundation
Tools’ usability rests on their ability to integrate seamlessly into the IT architecture. No matter how useful a tool’s features are, if it takes too many steps to access or exists in an unfamiliar or external environment, the tool’s usability is lost.
One of the best ways to power seamless usability across your IT infrastructure is with a core, unified directory service. With a cloud directory platform like JumpCloud, for example, you can implement user-friendly features like single sign-on (SSO), automated account provisioning, and conditional access on all your IT resources. With one set of credentials, users get access to all the tools and resources they need to Make Work Happen®, and IT can manage it all with Directory Insights, System Insights, and a user-friendly console.
To learn more about what a cloud platform can do, download our whitepaper Change Happens: It’s Time for a New Cloud Platform. It includes TCO breakdowns, case studies, how it empowers remote environments, and more.