Proving how bad enterprise software really is, Knoa delivers visibility

Knoa Software's user experience management tools let businesses see how employees interact with software suites to improve usage

Proving how bad enterprise software really is, Knoa delivers visibility

I have written at length about just how bad many legacy enterprise software products are. I was reminded about this recently when raising an invoice for one particular client. This client is an enterprise technology vendor, with some of the best software tools on the planet and extensive conceptual videos detailing just how its platforms enable enterprise application users to be as efficient as they are with their consumer technology tools.

Alas, the reality of the internal tools that this particular vendor uses was very different from the hype. The task of raising a single invoice—a seemingly simple job—took on absolutely epic proportions with deep operating system and browser requirements, poor user experience, and, fundamentally, a system that didn't work. I came away, once again feeling nothing but sympathy for my friends who have to use these systems on a day-to-day basis.

So, I was interested to receive an email from Knoa Software, a company I'd not heard of before.

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Knoa's reason for being is to enable businesses to see exactly how their employees interact with their software suites. Knoa can identify shortcuts and workarounds that users are forced to employ when the software proves inefficient, and it can identify activity that leads to errors and applications that are never used.

The value proposition, apart from simply having giggles at how people use software, is that organizations can redesign their tools based on actual user behavior rather than some consultant-driven analysis of the best way to do things. With this knowledge, organizations can improve user experience, provide additional training, change fundamental business processes or develop new screens/tools.

Knoa reminds me of another tool, one developers use to analyze how their users are active within their software in order to make their products more efficient: Totango. It has gained widespread use by SaaS vendors looking for an internal analytical fabric to identify user activity and areas of weakness.

Knoa claims diverse companies such as Coca-Cola, Clorox, Comcast, Disney and GE use its product.

Knoa use cases

I talked via email with Knoa CEO Brian Berns to get his thoughts on the wider enterprise application space, but to also get a better idea of what Knoa is up to. I started by asking Berns what the key use cases were for Knoa, and where it can deliver the best value. He broke it down into a few different areas:

  • Workforce efficiency: By understanding how employees interact with their core business applications to perform tasks on a daily basis, companies are able to gain valuable performance insights that make it easier to identify and replicate best practices across the workforce.
  • Help desk: Knoa enables IT teams to immediately identify what the employee is experiencing before he/she opens a ticket or picks up the phone. The service desk team has full visibility into the complete user journey, including the exact error(s) encountered, be it system- or user-generated.
  • Training: With Knoa, companies can measure whether their employees follow the business processes presented during training with minimal interruption and rework. Knoa also helps identify new training opportunities and pinpoints the exact users or teams that require continuous education, ensuring the maximum return on training investment.
  • Adoption/migration: By consistently measuring user adoption across all devices, companies can ensure employee readiness as new processes and technologies are introduced. Knoa provides guidance through every step of the migration journey, be it to SAP S/4HANA, Fiori, Screen Personas, SuccessFactors or others.
  • IT transformation: It's not uncommon for organizations to invest millions of dollars on large-scale ERP projects. By leveraging Knoa UEM in the project phase, companies can develop more effective UAT, improve communications and training, and ensure process adoption and compliance, enabling a quicker path to end user sustainment.
  • Business value: Knoa enables organizations to attain full realization of their business plan for which they initially purchased the enterprise software. It provides comprehensive dashboards and reports that provide objective KPIs in all key areas.

All of that is fine. However, terms like "IT transformation," "business value" and "workplace efficiency" are easy to throw around but harder to prove. So, how is Knoa going to convince me (and, more important, prospective customers) that it adds value?

To this question, Berns drummed up some statistics from existing customers. He said one customer reports a 17 percent increase in user satisfaction, 27 percent decrease in user errors and 100 percent reduction in system errors. Another reports a 30 percent reduction in user-related support incidents, 15 percent reduction in MTTR (mean time to resolution, a key IT service metric), 2x productivity gain in user support, 50 percent improvement in support call handling time, and $5 million to $7 million in increased value realized after two years.

All of that are pretty impressive results—from a small data set, but impressive nonetheless. I'm looking forward to watching Knoa progress and seeing how it parlays those impressive results into broader adoption.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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