Software has to be usable

There’s been a bit of tit for tat on the blogsphere between Nick Carr and ZDNet blogger Michael Krigsman. Essentially, Krigsman took exception to a rhetorical question by Robert Scoble

Any of you have any ideas on how to make business software sexy?”.

Saying that Enterprise software is functional and therefore has no requirement to be sexy. Nick Carr says that is nonsense,

“all that Krigsman is doing is giving enterprise vendors cover for continuing to produce software that's difficult and unpleasant to use”

 I’m with Nick Carr on this one. I acknowledge Krigsman’s point about the amount of the worlds economy that runs through their systems, BUT I would say that this could be a whole lot more if they’d bothered to make the software even mildly usable. (we have SAP here)

Here’s a statistic I used to love banding around, only 19% of mySAP  CRM buyers actually user it. You’ve got to ask yourself why adoption is so low.

My guess is that figure is only as high as it is because customers figure they have sunk so much money they may as well use it.

At a recent MS Titan event (their version of CRM), they acknowledged user adoption as the greatest inhibitor of take up.

Given this, surely spending some time on the form, function and usability of the application would spike adoption of even SAP’s sales?  Its not like they don’t have their challenges now given the Oracle buy up, MS focus on enterprise apps and oh..of course SaaS.

Now SaaS application vendors understand this stuff. Mashup’s, customisable fields, business driven adoption (ie people use SaaS because it works, not because they bought it). If on prem vendors don’t get this, and more usable, nimble and functionally rich SaaS applications come along that make use adoption easier, they are going to be in trouble.

I would also like to add that increasingly users are driving businesses to provide equal services to those that they use as a consumer. IDC here in NZ state that web 2.0 workers have a low tolerance for business software lagging they’re consumer life. Global Neighborhoods agrees. If you look at IM, iPhones, Mozilla, Mac notebooks even VoIP. These have all been introduced by users, not IT because that is what they expect.  So, if they like me, stumble across SAP R3, and they too find it hideous… they are highly likely to run to the nearest SaaS / ISV who does provide a intuitive interface that suites them and use that.

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