I suspect Dennis Howlett will get similar comments to his post comparing Workday to Apple as I did when I compared SAP and IBM to Apple. The enterprise world continues to believe it is much more complex, more secure, higher value than consumer tech.
While Dennis was penning his column last week I was presenting to enterprise audiences in TX and NJ on my book, The New Technology Elite. And on more than a couple of occasions, as I was presenting on Apple, Amazon, Google, eBay and others from my book, I was thinking how consumer tech buyers are in some ways so much more astute than enterprise buyers:
a) They are less patient
Can you imagine Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos announcing a product then not delivering it for years? Would they hype up something like IBM’s Watson, then make interested customers run through hoops to even get a demo couple of years later?
b) They are more diligent
An executive at a product company which is embedding technology in their next version told me “Technology users are so rude…You break down new products into detailed components, you jailbreak them…”. I smiled. “Most technology users are pretty docile”. Can you imagine SAP users telling ASUG to hack into HANA to test its claims, its security weaknesses? Do you see analysts running such detailed tests?
c) They have better design taste
In my book, I have several paras for rock star product designers like Jonathan Ive of Apple, Robert Brunner who helped design Amazon’s first
Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook and others. I wrote about the the Google Doodle team which manages to spice its home page even with its self-applied discipline of no more than 28 words. In contrast I have heard from CIOs for years they have a “lipstick on a pig” project to improve UI on their enterprise software. Enterprise users continue to grumble but put up with unfriendly systems.
d) They are squeakier wheels
In social networks, in Consumer Reports surveys and other ways, consumers get their product complaints heard. It could be Apple’s antenna issues, it could be Facebook privacy issues. Enterprise users tend to complain to vendor reps. Even with their attorneys involved they have far less leverage than if they reported issues to external watchdogs or to each other.
e) They are less loyal
Consumers tend to view most technology as disposable. They are not that attached to their LGs, Kindles or their mobile carriers. In a nuanced way that gives them more purchasing leverage – it’s the “I care, but not that much” mindset.
So, yes it is good to see companies like Workday behave more like Apple. Time for enterprise buyers to also emulate their consumer tech cousins.