September 24, 2014

Why users run away from Enterprise Applications?

Large Organizations had heavily invested in Enterprise Applications during Y2K boom! These include IBM, Oracle, Microsoft & SAP. Now thats 15-20 years back. The backbone architecture of the Applications was state of the art in year 2000. But what now? Most of the ERP systems still rely on the same architecture and are surviving because of the domain knowledge and the specific need the application serve. But will it be able to attract next generation users? I have serious doubts on it.

In year 2000 the college graduate who was suppose to use the IBM or SAP or Oracle products had probably used basic computers and command console for performing many tasks. These users were very pleased when they got to use State of the Art ERP systems. But 15 years down the line, these applications remained the same with little improvement in usability. Of-course, the features were upgraded, some servers support was upgraded, but the end user usability remained the same. Today college graduates have benchmark of social network websites for usability and when these graduates are exposed to ERP systems, its not only scary but also nightmare for them to use it. Its like you get Ferrari to get to work but at work you get a 90's pick-up truck.

How to get away from these problems?
Unfortunately there is no simple answer for it. Because for most product companies the underlying instructions are "Don't touch the code unless it's broken." SAP is still struggling to get all the functionalities over the web. This is because SAP has embedded so much at client side that it becomes next to impossible to move to web technology. The investment of the same would be huge and the return will be marginal. Investing in such activity by large corporation would be equivalent to starting a new subsidiary and developing a new product which will again take several years before it can go for large scale implementation.
Companies like SalesForce have set benchmark for CRM systems and SAAS model in enterprise world. For SalesForce the world is little smoother because the initial benchmark is a WEB model unlike a desktop client of other ERP systems.

Is there anything that can be done?
Remember Y2K? There were hundreds of small companies who made fortunes by helping larger organizations to make the application Y2K compliant. I see a similar opportunity in 2015 and 2016. Porting legacy systems to modern standards which can be used by next generation users.

Img Credit: http://smallbiztrends.com/2012/11/4-quick-usability-wins-for-your-website.html

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