What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of enterprise software? Probably user-friendly isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Robert Scoble ignited the discussion on why bloggers generally don’t write about enterprise software.
I should preface this entry with the fact that I haven’t had a lot of hands-on experience with enterprise software from popular vendors Oracle, Sybase or other applications that falls under this umbrella. Despite this, I have used SAP and other enterprise applications so I have some insight into them.
Typically, enterprise software attempts to solve problems across an organization (hence, enterprise), but also allows flexibility to adapt to the specific needs in the organization like “Accounts Payable.”
From my experience, enterprise software sucks (for end-users). The goal of enterprise software is to address the needs of the enterprise — not the end-user. This is understandable, otherwise why would the organization purchase it?
Scoble’s reasoning on why enterprise software isn’t sexy, is that it was only deployed at the request of the a minority in the organization, not the people who are mandated to use it:
[Regarding SAP] … But I didn’t have any say in that matter. Some CIO somewhere else made that decision and forced us all to use SAP. That doesn’t exactly make us warm and fuzzy about the computer sitting in front of us on the desk.
I understand where he’s coming from, but I find this point flawed. Just because the employee wasn’t a decision maker in the usage of enterprise software, doesn’t automatically make it unattractive. I’d think that the employees don’t mind doing the tasks asked of them; rather, I think the frustration is in the software itself. However, since bloggers thrive on their audience who constantly make choices, I totally agree with Scoble’s statement that “consumer software” unquestionably pays the bills for bloggers.
I think in many cases enterprise software is underrated. The purpose of the software is to be functional for the company, not to be friendly for end-users. On the contrary, I feel the end-user experience (the employee) is generally undervalued in the software industry.
What’s the solution?
We all use computers differently. I think that enterprise software manufacturers should offer open flexible APIs so that a user-friendly front-end could be developed for it. Essentially, as long as you have authentication, replication and programmed access rights/rules for the data, then everyone wins. Using enterprise software shouldn’t be a hassle. Front-ends can still be sold to clients, while allowing them to develop them in-house if they wanted. The only challenge is getting enterprise software vendors to agree on an open format.
There you have it with my sentiments about enterprise software. Perhaps you disagree, share your thoughts in the comments below.