If content is king then user interface (UI) is its long-suffering queen. She has stood by the sidelines for too long and is finally taking her rightful place. UI has become a common phrase, though when used people usually mean graphic user interface (GUI) and user experience (UX) – and everyday users mean “how easy is it to download Candy Crush from the app store?”
So we know whether we want to buy an Android phone or iPhone, but how does UI impact the tools we use at work?
Some trends in the Samanage customer base are leading us to believe that something is happening in the enterprise workspace: the shift toward the Apple and Cloud products is emerging alongside an overarching expectation of better UI.
When Apple began the race
The Apple Lisa , designed in the 1980’s, was the first, (relatively) affordable computer that offered GUI . Lisa, and later it’s more successful brother Macintosh, were a harbinger of the rise of UI. Nowadays UX is a “make or break” for new apps, software, and devices, but back then it was a little understood concept. The change in public attitude has been so dramatic that today the Internet is littered with generic, short guides with names like “Five Ways to Improve Your App’s UI.”
Lisa and Macintosh began the, now well-established, cementation of Apple as a leader in modern UI . Often, the widespread growth of Mac usage is attributed to a maturing market demand for a better and more ergonomic design. It’s no surprise then, that UI and UX became a driver of the increasingly bitter rivalry between Windows and Mac users, even at the enterprise level.
So far, in terms of mobile devices, it looks like Apple has a definite lead. But what about the traditional enterprise workstation? Is Apple gaining momentum on the desktop front as well? This is the question to ask as younger employees, the infamous Millennials, are bringing their UI expectations into the office.
What Forrester thinks
According to a 2012 Forrester report, 8% of work computers used by survey respondents were Macs – a number that is predicted to grow immensely. We tried to get some further insight by analyzing customers’ asset information in our database. The all time number of assets running an Apple OS managed in our platform is 7%. This number has doubled since the beginning of 2013 and now stands at 14%.
The huge climb can be explained in many ways, but it likely has to do with the Samanage emphasis on UI as a core tenant. This extra attention to user experience attracts many dynamic organizations like Evernote, Joyent and Marin Software; along with companies that specialize in modern interface, usability, and experience such as Myplanet Digital and Idean. It seems to us that these organizations usually, unlike their older, bigger and more conservative counterparts, are more inclined to accept Apple in the workspace and prioritize UI in the products they use.
It’s obvious that Apple products are gaining popularity. It’s also clear that the market now cares about and understands what user experience means. Though all this is apparent in the context of people’s private choices, we think that the mentality is creeping into the workspace – and it’s bringing UI to the forefront of the office software and hardware landscape.
First run, Microsoft Windows 1.01 vs Longhorn 4015
Photos: Apple Lisa 1 by Jim Ables | Desktop with applications in System 1.1 by GUIdebook | Desktop with applications in Mac OS X Panther by GUIdebook | First run in Windows 1.01 by GUIdebook | First run in Longhorn 4015 by GUIdebook