Blackcloud Business Solutions Group is a Salesforce.com software vendor and consultancy. We truly believe in the power of data driven organizations. But we’ll also be the first to admit that many BI and CRM initiatives fail. Why is that?
I think there are essentially two pieces to the equation when it comes to these initiatives, and due to the way enterprise software has historically been sold, one side has been neglected. The two sides of the equation are power and usability, and they’re often at odds.
Power is what enterprise software currently does well. Power is all about taking data and massaging it in ways that make it easier to make decisions. It’s all about back-end automation and getting data to the right people at the right time. Again, power isn’t where enterprise software falls short—be it Salesforce, Oracle, or SAP, their products drive many successful organizations, and it’s their power that’s sold directly to executives and decision makers.
But what about usability? Usability is a harder sell. Here’s the thing: To unlock all that great power in enterprise software, you need data. And that data has to come from somewhere, most likely from people entering it. The more data—and the higher the quality—the better. So if software has poor usability, it stands to reason that you will not get the data that you need to unlock the power of the software you’ve purchased (and yes, SaaS is still software, despite the fact that Salesforce’s phone number is 1-800-NOSOFTWARE). Poor adoption and user buy-in is the symptom, but poor usability is the root cause.
But instead of improving usability, you hear about driving adoption. The carrot and the stick. But most organizations that have tried that have found it doesn’t work all that well. “Pulling teeth” is an understatement. Improving usability is a different, more sophisticated approach. It addresses the root causes of inefficiencies caused by low user adoption and improves ROI across a number of levels.
Incidentally, if I might plug our own product, this is essentially how we developed Powerplay. We worked with a lot of users of Salesforce. We saw how they used it, how they didn’t use it, and how they wished they used it. Then we built THAT. The result is a highly tailored product that addresses an organizations specific needs and organizes the entry and retrieval of their data in a way that just makes sense. And we’re just getting started in that regard, because for every customer we signup, we learn more about how they WISH they could run their business. And whenever we see a powerful product with poor usability, we see that as an opportunity. That’s what we do, and I think we’re getting pretty good at it.