User Friendly Tech Takes Center Stage in the Modern Age 

Easy-to-use tools are essential for increasing employee productivity and the SMB’s bottom line.

When employees started bringing their iPhones to work, they sent a clear message to their employers: user experience is king. People want modern, easy-to-use tools that let them do their jobs quickly and effectively. Any organization failing to heed this demand is sure to suffer lost productivity (as employees struggle to learn multiple systems) and lost opportunities (as skilled employees opt to work with competitors who can accommodate their tech preferences).

This has driven an evolution in business technology. Manufacturers and developers have taken cues from consumer favorites like Dropbox and Google Docs to create more user-friendly solutions that bring professional tools more in line with the consumer experience. Today’s “office equipment” sports simple, intuitive interfaces; is inexpensive and effortless to deploy and maintain; scales easily with business needs; and, most of all, empowers employees to do their best work.

The few examples that follow may be among the most influential, user-focused technologies that continue to shape the futures of small and medium businesses.

Business-grade cloud

Not all small businesses stay small forever. But a decade ago, growing meant expanding the amount of storage, servers, and other infrastructure to accommodate the company’s new needs. That was a significant undertaking for IT, who was already responsible for a growing list of day-to-day operational concerns as well as troubleshooting everything from email problems to paper jams. It wasn’t kind to the budget, either.

Thanks to business cloud providers like Box and OpenDrive, small and medium businesses have a lot more options. They can easily scale their infrastructure as much as they need without worrying about the size of their server closet. They save money as they no longer need to take on the cost of purchasing, provisioning, and maintaining the hardware. It also levels the playing field; every business now has access to enterprise-class technology. 

Perhaps best of all, though, IT can manage the company’s tech infrastructure through an application dashboard that utilizes familiar tool sets and eaily navigable interfaces. With complex tasks simplified into turnkey (or push-button) menus, the IT department is more flexible, efficient, and productive, allowing them to add value to the company in other ways.

Collaboration platforms

It wasn’t that long ago that if you wanted to collaborate on a document with a coworker, you had to email, or—still not that long ago, believe it or not—fax it back and forth. Tracking changes was messy, approvals were drawn out, and lost documents and people getting left out of the loop were common. While those technology solutions were more advanced than their predecessors, they still had unacceptable hassles, and reaching a working understanding of the new workflow often required training and experience. In other words: time and money.

The cloud paved a path for a variety of collaborative platforms that put users first. Productivity suites like Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google’s G Suite revolutionized collaboration, letting people in different locations work on the same document in real time. Additionally, tools like Communifire create virtual workspaces where collaborating departments or distributed workforces can meet up.

These tools all have one important thing in common: they are designed around the way people work. They keep a clean interface with an intuitive flow and clear direction. Without the restrictions and demands of a piece of hardware (like a fax machine), developers can build software-based collaboration tools from the user’s perspective out – ensuring that everyone, even those with minimal experience, can reap the benefits.

Low-code development platforms

IT teams are invariably undermanned and overtaxed. Employees often see IT as a hurdle to getting the tools they need to do their jobs. In the past, this conflict frequently resulted in “shadow IT”—employees using personal Dropbox accounts and other unsanctioned apps and hardware to circumvent lengthy approval and provisioning processes.

The rise of low-code platforms, however, is providing an alternative solution. Platforms like Intuit Quickbase and OutSystems put the complicated process of coding in the background and put the user’s needs front and center. These platforms allow rank-and-file employees with no coding experience—dubbed “citizen developers”—to build their own business apps with visual tools that minimize hand coding by giving access to templates and widgets which accelerate the building of the app. 

Low-code platforms are enabling the people who know their business best—workers on the ground—to create the apps they need to their specifications and deploy them more quickly. IT, in turn, gets back some its resources, and the business reduces logjams so it can operate more effectively.

HP PageWide printers

As with all these revolutionary technologies, HP PageWide has set a new performance standard for businesses. This brand new category of printers delivers professional quality color with unsurpassed speed, all built into an intelligent, user-friendly package.

Unlike most printers, which move the print head itself, HP PageWide models move the paper under a stationary print bar in one pass. This allows for breakthrough print speeds of up to 70 pages per minute while preserving color quality. High-yield cartridges can print four times more pages than standard cartridges, reducing the cost of ink replacement. And because PageWide technology allows for fewer moving parts, these printers also cut the time and budget needed for maintenance.

Plus, print management services like HP JetAdvantage provide straightforward solutions to help the IT department streamline business processes and simplify fleet management. By providing smart technology that improves speed and efficiency, HP PageWide puts users first to make businesses better. 

Technology savvy employees demand innovative, powerful, and most of all, easy-to-use tools. For businesses seeking advanced printing solutions, only HP PageWide printers can deliver the fastest speeds, affordable color printing, and at surprisingly lower costs than expected. It all adds up to best-in-class cost of ownership.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.