Monday, January 14, 2008

Why Enterprise Software Must Be Sexy

Need for user friendly enterprise software ...

"It all started with a grumble from Bill Gates. In early December, Microsoft's chairman called out journalists for their scant coverage of business computing, as opposed to their ubiquitous scribblings about the latest consumer products.

The enterprise market is "way bigger," Gates griped, so why does it get such little coverage?

Gates' complaint set off a fierce tussle between prominent technology bloggers that went beyond the question about media coverage and straight to the essence of enterprise software today.

The battle boiled down to a simple question: Does enterprise software need to be user friendly let alone sexy? Some said it essentially can't be, while at least one pundit argued that sexiness is the key to success.

First came former Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble, who claimed no one cares about the look and feel of business software because so few people make purchase decisions around it, and those folks have other priorities. CNet blogger Michael Krigsman weighed in next, saying while consumer software should be sexy, enterprise software must first be reliable and secure.

Krigsman buttressed Scoble's entry by saying IT departments—not rank-and-file workers—rightfully have the final say in purchase decisions. The argument is that CIOs and their staffs are charged with keeping the tech trains running, so they are best suited to decide which tools to bring on board. Bells and whistles don't guarantee sales, particularly to CIOs and other IT executives who buy software based on its viability for their companies.

Next into the fray charged Nicholas Carr, of Does IT Matter? fame, on his Rough Type blog (click here for more from Carr), arguing that business tools must be sexy—at least in ease of use and intuitiveness—to succeed in a changing marketplace.

Carr has a point. Newer innovations like software as a service, Web 2.0 and mobile applications are broadly available to those outside the IT department. For those consumers of business software, freshness and flash are key selling points."    (Continued via CIO Insight)    [Usability Resources]

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