When you don’t focus on the user, the user gets shafted….

…that’s a quote from a delicious article by John Siracusa available on Ars Technica. Headlined Stuck On The Enterprise, it looks at a number of reasons why Apple doesn’t seem to do well in the enterprise space. [I must confess a very personal interest in this topic, having more than once tried to introduce Apple into the enterprise and, shall we say, not succeeded…).

Here’s a morsel to get your taste buds going:

The “dream phone” for the enterprise looks quite different than the iPhone. It works with the corporate VPN. It does Exchange. It supports device-wide encryption and remote deletion of data on lost devices. It’s available in several compatible forms from multiple manufacturers. It has a well-defined public roadmap for hardware and software. It can be backed up and restored en masse, preferably over the network. If it has a camera, it can be disabled. The battery can be removed and replaced. And on and on.

Maybe around item two hundred in this list there might be a bit about the people who will actually use these enterprise dream phones tolerating the things. Really, as long as they don’t openly revolt, it’s fine. The people you have to please in the enterprise market are the ones purchasing and supporting the products, not the poor schmucks who actually have to use them.

And if that doesn’t get you salivating, here’s another taste:

Listen again to Steve’s final words on the subject. “We put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and say, what do we want?”

This is why Apple does not compete in the enterprise market in the traditional sense. This is why no other company created the iPhone. This is why most desktop PCs are pieces of crap. When you don’t focus on the user, the user gets shafted.

Go on, read the whole article, traverse the links, it’s worth it. It makes me think again about the sheer importance of Doc’s VRM.

As enterprise people, we have to stop building things designed explicitly to get past IT governance and procurement processes, and start making things that customers want. Maybe VRM can play a role in that.

My thanks to Bill Barnett for bringing this to my attention.

4 thoughts on “When you don’t focus on the user, the user gets shafted….”

  1. We switched to Mac at home this year. My first goal was simply to get a machine that would reliably handle tasks for the family without me having to tinker with it every few months to keep it running.

    I was quickly impressed by how everything not only worked, it just worked like I expected it to. Talk about user-centered design! These guys had clearly been reading my mind.

    Then I entered into a phase of frustration with my PC at work. Two or three times in the next week I caught myself saying “the mac would never do THAT!”

    Web-centric software companies are doing the same thing — delivering such high levels of functionality and usability — that they are raising the bar in what we (and our user communities) expect from the software we use at work. No longer will we IT types be able to get away with delivering clunky, low function software.

    Tools like http://www.plaxo.com. I haven’t tried it, can’t vouch for its usability or functionality. But the promise of software the synchronizes all my address books all over the place, takes live feeds from directories all over the web to KEEP the contact info up-to-date, and syncs with my mobile over-the-air… and for free? (OK, you have to pay for the mobile sync-ing, but still…)

    The software playing field is dramatically shifting again. Are we (internal IT groups) going to be able to find and establish the right partnerships, and change the model for software delivery fast enough to meet the demands of our users?

    And are we going to learn to think like our users, to drive our usability practices high enough up the priority stack, to deliver software they love as much as JP loves his Mac?

  2. VRM may be the answer but, as I’ve said to a number of people involved in it, there is a real problem in the way it’s being presented at this early stage. It’s very hard to determine what it actually is.

    Moreover, it already lies within the ambit of producers to improve the relevance of products to users by adopting the mindset I laid out in my Geek Marketing 101 piece that I wrote sometime ago in response to another of Doc’s anti-marketing pieces.


  3. While Apple does a better job of focusing on the user than most, they still fall far short of Google.

    Google has been wildly successful largely because of their unrelenting focus on the end user’s
    needs. Their pages are always lightweight, their advertising is actually *useful* to their audience rather than intrusive. It seems as though their primary goal is to deliver the best possible user experience and monetization strategies are only employed when they support or at least do not interfere with that goal at all.

    Apple, on the other hand makes all sorts of irritating design decisions with OS-X, iTunes and the iPod in order to take their customers prisoner.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love my Mac and I really really like my iPod.

    I just wish Apple would take the next step toward a primary focus on the customer experience. This might yield slightly lower profits in the following quarter. However, in the long run they’d make far more by growing their market share faster.

    If more companies adopted Google’s philosophy, we’d all be happier and those companies would probably be quite a bit more profitable.

  4. The Apple interface or rather the way of doing things has meant one thing. I dont read the manual that comes with it. I don’t need to .

    Things are simple. Recently we purchased a software called Billings. The software is not made by Apple but has the Apple essence of simplicity .

    We were up and running in no time. That too without reading the manual.

Let me know what you think

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