10 Years, 10 Lessons: Year 8: Enterprise Software is Dead

photo courtesy of Tony the Misfit

photo courtesy of Tony the Misfit

User experience is a necessary organizational capability

Obviously, companies will keep buying software.  But the opportunities for a new SAP or Seibel are few and far between.  I ran a session on this at P-camp 08 last year, and the group was pretty vocal – the traditional software model has to change.  The consumer software market has lifted the bar for expectations for enterprise software: it should be easy to use, offer fast screen response times, constantly improve, and be much, much cheaper.

Customers don’t want:

  • To be sold software by the equivalent of a car salesman that can’t even remember their name after the ink has dried on the contract.
  • Implementation services that focus on the plumbing rather than adoption
  • Training that doesn’t teach them how to fish
  • Non-intuitive user experience
  • To hear that they’ll have to wait a year for the next release to get that desired feature
  • To hear that their infrastructure that is causing poor performance.
  • To hear that they have to upgrade their windows platform, or upgrade to an enterprise version of Oracle to use the software
  • Support that requires them to run a server log to diagnose the problem.
  • Support staff that don’t understand their business.
  • Upgrades that are “free” as part of maintenance but end up costing cost nearly as much as purchase “because” of their customizations and deliver no tangible business value.

Mission critical applications can probably still get away with a poor user experience. Everywhere else the consumer revolution is chipping away at the enterprise software kingdom.  Edge Dynamics won when we had a mission critical application.  As soon as the market changed to a nice-to-have reporting tool, everything we had built became a liability – bad user experience, slow performance, costly upgrades, huge upfront investment, costly upgrades

Key Takeaways: Enterprise software vendors need to stand in their customers shoes and design a “whole product” experience, and total cost of ownership that is significantly better than the alternatives.

Sign Posts: What improvements would customers like to see to your sales process, implementation, training, and support services and to your product? What are the alternatives to your solution?

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