Why Consumer-Friendly Technology Has A Place In the Enterprise, Too

Employee expectations for IT tools and services are being set by products that span work and home — like Excel.

The boundary lines between work and our personal lives may have blurred a lot over the last few years, but that doesn’t mean they have disappeared entirely — as a recent story involving Excel spreadsheets proves.

The U.K.’s Mail Online newspaper did some research into a number of employers trying to offer some words of warning to potential job candidates who trip themselves up by acting just a like too casual when they’re being interviewed.

“‘Interviewee said her Microsoft Excel skills were ‘on fleek’ in an interview. You are interviewing at a professional organization. Don’t use slang and pop culture vocabulary,’ a frustrated employer wrote on (social media service) Reddit,” the paper reported. “‘Yes I know what on fleek means. But I’m trying to employ the best. The professional world is not charity. I don’t owe you a job just because you have a piece of paper.’”

“Some methods of developing software are helping alleviate those costs, but there’s no question that ease of us is paramount in areas like finance.”

For the uninitiated, “on fleek” is basically another way of saying “on point,” so the candidate in question apparently believed her ability to use spreadsheets matched what the job required.

Besides the obvious lesson here, though, the Mail Online story is a good reminder that, while the way we talk about it may be different in the office vs. home, Excel is an application with a huge presence in both worlds. That gives it a unique advantage, but it also shows how technology in general needs to evolve.

Consumer Vs. Enterprise Ease Of Use

A story on CIO.com recently looked at this in some detail, offering some case studies and examples of how organizations are trying to take a more “user-centred” approach to software and devices in a way that empowers, rather than inhibits them.

“Companies are asking why the enterprise applications that their employees, customers and partners use every day can’t be as simple and intuitive to use as the apps on their smartphones,” the article said. “Complex, confusing enterprise applications can disenfranchise employees, but high costs has made it difficult for some companies to make a business case for simplified, easier-to-use applications.”

Some methods of developing software are helping alleviate those costs, but there’s no question that ease of us is paramount in areas like finance. While the complexity behind the database, analytics and other functions will always need to be there, what happens on the front lines has to be intuitive. Many companies know this, while is probably why a recent survey report from LinkedIn noted that, for roles like financial analyst, the top skills include accounting, financial modelling and (you guessed it), Microsoft Excel.

The future of finance will be largely about the sophisticated use of data by CFOs and their teams. No matter how powerful the back end, though, the accessibility of the interface has to be on point. Or, if you’re reading this at home, “on fleek.”