No-one could have anticipated the impact that social media would have on the way companies design their IT systems.
If somebody had asked me a few years ago, when social media was in its infancy, if social media would or could ever affect the thinking behind traditional systems design and development in any manner or form, I would have without a doubt answered with a resounding, “No. Never!”
How could having a platform aimed at the predominately younger generation for use to communicate and share information ever be able to impact on the highly technical and complex arenas of traditional systems development and design? Never!
Well, time has certainly moved on, and social media has become as common place and as regular as eating meals. In fact, more frequently, most people cannot have a meal without checking what’s going on in their respective social media accounts. But this obsession has enough content for another article of its own!
Look at how Internet banking changed our relationship with banking – All of a sudden, it was no longer necessary to go into a bank to transact. All this could be done from a pc and now even via smart phones. I cannot recall the last time I went to my bank, and have no idea who my bank manager is, as this is no longer relevant to my current way of interacting with my bank.
Now, social media applications – which are a cloud based solution running with millions of simultaneous users – have been developed to be totally intuitive, and deriving revenue from training on these applications was certainly never part of the business model. The business model was quite simple: get people to use the application in the quickest way possible, and this would lead to a critical mass, which could then be used to sell advertising. Once the critical mass of users had been achieved, the “purchase” option was introduced, a version where extended functionality was provided and where those purposely annoying adverts could also be removed – essentially reverting to the much tried and tested software sales model of charging users a usage fee, thereby creating an annuity revenue model for the owners on the relevant application.
So how does this all impact the thinking of software authors who are updating or designing traditional business solutions?
Today’s users are no longer computer or systems illiterate. Gone are the days when users to applications were a select few. If we look at applications in the HR and payroll space, we see that it’s no longer only the HR and payroll staff that are users of the system. Every employee is a user by means of the self-service components.
And this is the key point of which developers in today’s market need to take cognisance. Gone are the days where running an application still needed to follow laborious step-by-step processes, forcing the user to follow a distinct path of menu options in order to achieve the desired result.
Systems designed for use today should not only be intuitive, but their layout and presentation should be reflecting that what is relevant to the user at that point in time. A good example of this is when an HR user responsible for recruitment within the organisation signs in to their HR system.
They should be presented with a screen presenting data such as:
– current resignations by division or department;
– the status of the recruitment process per vacancy;
– manpower requirements for the various managers; and
– employees who are the closest fit for any vacancies.
Statistical information presented in graphical format could include:
– Average length of service of terminated employees;
– Employee resignations per manager;
– Average length of time to recruit for the various position types;
– Average cost per hire; and
– Success rate per source of applicant.
All of this information immediately presents the user with the relevant and up-to-date data to assist them in their decision making process, as opposed to just reporting on decisions taken.
And the key to achieving the above is to ensure the system is capable of presenting information much like the manner in which data is presented to a user when accessing their social media account such as LinkedIn or Facebook. Data presented within social media pages is presented immediately and is up-to-date and users do not need to run a myriad of reports in order to access any updated or new posts to their account!
And so, in conclusion, what is the answer to the question: “What is the impact of social media on conventional systems design today?” The answer is, quite simply, “Immeasurable”.
The whole landscape of systems usage and computer literacy of end users has changed, and so too should the way in which conventional corporate systems are designed, as they now need to meet the demands and expectations of users who today use a multitude of systems in their personal lives, which take advantage of all of the latest technological advances.
Rob Bothma is an HR Systems Industry Specialist at NGA Africa, a non-executive director, Fellow and Vice President of the Institute of People Management and co-author of the 4th Edition of Contemporary Issues in HRM and member of the Executive Board for HR Pulse.
This article appeared in the September 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.