Thursday, March 06, 2008

Survey: Software Usability Is More Important Than Features

Functionality not the key to success ...

"Software companies try to drive interest in their offerings through steady upgrades to features and functionality. But when it comes to realizing the value of a deployment, a new study finds software functionality barely matters.

Instead, a user community's effective adoption of the software was by far the top-ranking factor for realizing value, cited by 70% of 159 respondents to a survey conducted by venture capital firm Sand Hill Group and consulting company Neochange. Sixteen percent of respondents ranked organizational change and 13% cited process alignment, while just 1% ranked software functionality as the top factor for realizing value.

Software user adoption emerged as a strong theme throughout the study, which surveyed both software buyers and vendors in an effort to discover the meaning of enterprise software success.

When asked how to best define success, 89% of buyers and 94% of vendors cited value realization. The next-highest-ranking factor for defining success was effective usage, cited by 77% of buyers and 59% of vendors. And while value realization outranked effective usage, 70% of all respondents cited effective user adoption as the leading factor of value realization.

Both sets of respondents agreed that competitive advantage is the leading core business discipline supported by enterprise software. "This means that, for most of the respondents, effective user adoption of enterprise software is critical to their competitive position," wrote the authors of the study, "Achieving Enterprise Software 'Success.' "

Respondents cited reduced costs as the leading benefit of effective software usage, followed by improved customer experience and revenue growth.

The study also found that only 40% of buyers are measuring the success of their software deployments. The lack of success metrics is because of the complexity of an IT buyer's business environment and the level of burden placed on the buyer to manage a deployment's success (just 8% of buyers and 18% of vendors cited the software vendor as the party responsible for a successful deployment). Industry analysts expect adoption of automated license tracking and end-user monitoring technologies to make measurement much easier, the study noted.

"Buyers are looking for results -- not bells and whistles. Yet understanding and measuring the keys to enterprise software success remains a challenge," wrote the survey's authors."    (Continued via Enterprise Software)    [Usability Resources]

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