With the growing movement in the CRM space toward more Web 2.0–friendly applications and software, sometimes more mature technologies -- like those found on service desks -- can get lost amidst the evolution.
After a large amount of customer feedback demanding a slicker, intuitive user interface (UI), Numara Software answered the call and delivered in its latest release of its flagship offering, Numara FootPrints 9.5.
Numara partnered with a usability research firm -- a Numara spokeswoman says the company cannot disclose the name of the firm -- to try and better understand how customers use the offering and study the movements throughout service delivery and problem lifecycle to uncover ways to make tasks and workflows leaner and more efficient. It also conducted testing at more than 30 customer sites.
"One of the benefits of having such a large and global customer base is that we're able to work closely with organizations of all sizes, industries and [information technology] maturity to determine their varying service and asset management needs," said Matt Dircks, vice president of product strategy for Numara, in a statement. "We took feedback from our customers that are working with Numara FootPrints every day to improve the overall usability of the solution."
David Coyle, research vice president at Gartner, believes that the extensive work will pay off for the company, explaining this is something many service desk customers have been wanting for some time. "The product can be more intuitive ... and easier to use, rather than just continuing to add features and functionality to existing menus that were already overloaded," he says. "That has happened with a lot of offerings from Numara's competition."
There are three specific pieces added in version 9.5 the company believes contributes to the improvement in user experience:
- user interface, delivering a new home screen and customizable toolbar that enables easier access to most frequently used options;
- enhanced usability, including features such as easy-to-access icons and in-line editing to allow users to input, update, and act on information more efficiently; and
- flexible workflow, providing users the ability to stay on the main screen to complete common tasks and customize and change workflow quickly, while role-based policies provide more control.
To Coyle, a bolstered UI has the chance to create a domino effect for users. "It becomes easier to implement the tool and train people to use it," he says. "It also means less time on calls, which makes users more efficient. The interface can make everything better."
It can also provide a competitive advantage for companies looking for technology in an already mature space with few differences among major players. Coyle says that especially in the past year, getting service desk tools installed quickly and easily is essential. "Companies are more cost-conscious than ever before," he says. "Quicker implementation, less maintenance, and easier configuration leads to a lower total cost of ownership."
UI in service desk technology is also quickly becoming the deal maker -- or breaker -- in this increasingly mature technology space with little differentiation in feature sets among its major players. "Numara has been around for 10 years, and the other vendors that are competitive in this space are not new by any stretch of the imagination," Coyle says. "If a vendor can come in and say its UI looks great and has that sexiness, intuitive feel to it, a customer looking at another service desk tool with a UI that doesn't have that Web 2.0 look-and-feel and has the same functionality ... will pick the company with a cleaner UI. This will help Numara in head-to-head competition."
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