I certainly agree with the previous posts which present a version of the Consumerization of IT (tinyurl.com/q8fzpus
) argument for why enterprise software needs to get better in a more competitive world with higher user expectations.
But, I think the issue is a problem of term definition. If "enterprise app" means any software tool used by people in the context of their job, it's too big to be meaningful.
Some enterprise software is very much like consumer software
We use Slack a lot at work. Slack is a very simple communication tool for local or disparate groups with a history and some basic notification features. It's about as consumer-y as you can get. The design process for Slack was very similar to the design process for a consumer app - start with a premise that some problem that you are facing is a problem for lots and lots of people, design the app to meet your need, then figure out how to market it. The key thing here is that Slack is a simple product solving a simple, well defined, and well understood problem for a user that has needs which are very similar to the personal needs of the design and development team. Someone using the tool at a law office, or a software firm, or even a bunch of grad students working on a project, would all use the tool in extremely similar ways
Some enterprise software is nothing at all like consumer software
Take another class of enterprise software product - server log analysis for high volume unstructured data flowing from mission critical cloud based applications. Here, there is a tremendous space for varied user context, and user needs. An IT administrator in the CIOs organization would use the tool very differently than a developer reporting to a VP of engineering, or a Dir SecOps reporting to the CISO. Each of these audiences would need to have their needs (both feature needs as well as UI design/consumability needs) met, or ignored, as a strategic decision by the firm building and marketing the product. The product is incredibly complex, and must meet very specific user needs. If the designers are targeting a certain persona with deep IT skills, because that's the audience that has money and that they can reach through their sales channels, then that audience will get a product that lets them solve complex problems quickly with the mental models that work for them. But, if you happen to be a weekend developer with limited SaaS architecture skills, the product will be overwhelmingly complex and your experience will be awful. Likewise, if the designers target a lower skilled user, the Sr. engineer will find the product to be slow and painful, full of unnecessary wizards and tools that just get in the way of what they want to accomplish.
Good software is good software
Please don't misunderstand my point. I'm not arguing that the world needs more crappy software. Good software gets designed in remarkably similar ways regardless of who is buying it, or using it. You talk to users, talk to buyers (maybe the same, maybe not) make prototypes, you test your ideas, you prioritize features and try to focus on the needs of your audience. And, yes, the world is full of crappy enterprise software. And, yes, a lot of that software was bought by someone who doesn't use it.
My point is to remember who the audience is, and it's often not you.