When a software vendor starts around an innovative idea and grows rich and then richer, we should cheer. It means that users have benefitted from a new idea, whether a spreadsheet or word processor in the ’80s or a tablet device or location service or social network today. What happens when our real reason for using a suite of business applications is because the 90% discount and reduced headache that comes from a single source vendor and lower risk of acquisition dislocation are the driving decision factors? When our procurement folks and CFO have Torquemadatized as many end users as possible who dared to ask for new, edgy, useful applications?
From March until the end of June I spoke with almost 185 companies on four continents about, among other topics, usability. Almost universally the report from end users was of disappointment in the user interfaces and baked in intelligence of the Customer Service and Support software, and the Social CRM software, from the largest business application providers. By and large the procurement group was not the same as the Customer Service director. The budget and/or the procurement decision came from IT or the CFO. There the application selection criteria differ from what end users would say. This is one of the well-documented advantages of Cloud-based software as a service applications: the manager of the end users can often get the OPEX budget through and skirt the CAPEX blues.
Does anyone have any irrefutable, or even mildly compelling proof that accepting OK software in lieu of an 80%-90% discount, regardless of usability, is better than selecting products that end-users really love? Or the correlary: why is it so hard to show that it is worth the investment in stripped down and pretty user interfaces?
Users have been looking for the next generation of scalable Customer Service CRM software for complex organizational needs for nine years, and none has been forthcoming. Are you just making it too easy on your large enterprise software provider each time you agree to just pony up the maintenance fee rather than finding an alternative?
For all of the talk about ‘social media’ – it sure seems like the millions of users of business software built for the user of 20 years ago flock to the new apps for their personal lives, but accept a kind of quiet desperation and employ cognitive dissonance about their day to day business applications and either don’t complain, or we convince ourselves they are the best we deserve. What gives?