Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Boring, Unloved World of Enterprise Software that Sucks

Sarah Lacy published an interesting read on PandoDaily over the weekend. The post, Why Oracle May Really Be Doomed This Time, was a nice analysis of the changing landscape in enterprise software. Spurred by Oracle buying Taleo, Sarah's post takes an interesting look at the forces that are pulling on Oracle and SAP. There are several aspects that make it worth a read, but I want to highlight a few things that I found particularly amusing about the piece.

One is the idea, essentially, that in terms of 'loving the product', Oracle sucks. Oracle sucks, SAP sucks. It's complicated, it costs a ton of money, and it doesn't do what the sales guys promised. As Sarah tells it, this is the story of enterprise software of the 90s and the early 00s. One of my favorite parts of her post was this quote:
The reason Oracle’s rollup strategy won was because companies were pummeled into a place of Stockholm-syndrome-like acceptance. When I was covering Oracle in the mid-2000s, I spoke with customer-after-customer, and I can’t say any ever loved the software they spent millions on.
My own experiences with Oracle users/champions is similar. Nobody loves the software. Many love the idea of the software and the potential of the platform, but the user interface invariably seems like it was designed from the school of ugly equals functional. Cost is also a common complaint, whether it's those ongoing annual service charges or the, "we can do that, it just means implementing this other module" never-ending upsell. Contrast these aspects with Salesforce.com, particularly when it comes to their ongoing extension of the capabilities without having to deploy yet another expensive module in order to use the functionality.

But the point of this post isn't really a enterprise software versus enterprise software debate, nor a look at the idea of "when it doesn't matter if your brand experience sucks". What I really found amusing about Sarah's post was the comments. To date, there are 118 comments on her post -- and some extremely passionate voices coming from a variety of angles. Check them out. This isn't a topic that is being argued by a few PR people making statements and promoting the company line -- many of these comments are from angry people who are passionate about their software -- enterprise software.

And they said that enterprise software is boring and that nobody cares. 

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