The Consumerization of Business Software


    Business software used to be dowdy and unintuitive. That’s still the case in some industries, but in recent years, many SaaS solutions have taken on a look and feel that is clearly focused on the user experience. Features that were once only seen in gaming and social media are seeping into business products, and competing products are increasingly similar in interface design.

    While business software ecosystems are still popular, the ability to integrate with third-party solutions and use SaaS products across different devices is becoming the norm. As a side effect, UI/UX developers are tasked with creating products that are as easy to use as simple, lightweight apps but as powerful as legacy enterprise software. Meanwhile, businesses are feeling pressure to replace older, traditional business systems with streamlined SaaS products.

    Understanding how technology has been adopted thus far can give us insight into the tech trends we’re seeing today and help us predict what’s coming next. Here’s how the worlds of consumer software products and business software products collided, resulting in a landscape of increasingly homogeneous and user-friendly products that bridge the gap between B2Band B2C.

    In 1995, the Pew Research Center continued its established studies on computer usage in the United States. The resulting research showed that just 14 percent of U.S. adults had internet access at the time, and that 42 percent of adults had never heard of the internet (while an additional 21 percent had heard of it, knew it had to do with computers, but weren’t sure what it was). By 2014, Pew’s research found that 81 percent of American adults were using computers.

    Most early users were introduced to computers in work settings, which perhaps explains Pew’s findings that both income and education level correlate to significantly higher rates of computer usage (with a 30 percent gap between college-educated and high school-educated Americans). Of course, home computers are common now, but even as of 2000, only 62 percent of Americans were using laptops or desktops. In other words, as ubiquitous as computers have become, the adoption process didn’t happen overnight, and the way computers and subsequent devices were adopted has had a massive impact on UI and UX design.

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