Complexity as a Feature


Making an UX expert use a piece of enterprise software is a sure way to induce a nervous breakdown on him. User interfaces of applications used daily by millions of office people are the ultimate antithesis of good practices of interface design; unintuitive, convoluted, and ugly. Nonetheless billions of dollars of software by Oracle, SAP, IBM and other big vendors is sold each year. The ugliness of enterprise software is so pronounced that it cannot be explained by incompetence of big software vendors, on the contrary, it might actually be a feature fostered on purpose. One should first understand that big enterprise software is sold to top brass who will never use the software and couldn't care less about the end users. Second, managers buy enterprise software to bring about organizational change, not to have an easy to use application that would make people individually more productive. Third, it's much easier to introduce organizational change through outside consultants who are not constrained by internal politics. Fourth, outside consultants whose stated goal is to introduce a piece of software are met with much less resistance than consultants whose stated goal would be bringing changes to organization. Fifth, a simple to use, intuitive, and beautiful software doesn't need consultancy contracts worth millions of dollars. Sixth, consultancies such as Accenture or Deloitte are the best way to sell software to enterprises, thus closing the vicious cycle.

Enterprise software market is extremely inefficient and therefore ripe for a big disruption. Yet the disruption won't come through beautiful software but through novel distribution channels which don't rely on large consultancy organizations.

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