Let me start by refining my earlier “who’s you customer” post:
Primary customer/user: This is where your value delivered is appreciated. It’s the daily users and the real reason why you have a business at all. But alas, they often do not want to pay, still this is where your focus must be!
Social media: Everybody. Value is simple and easy to understand and consume and the vendors understands this. But the user shows little or no willingness to pay!
Enterprise software: The employees who shall use the software to actually enable them to do their job every day. Even less willingness to pay!
Secondary customer/user: These are interested thanks to the presence and use by the primary group. They are not users in the same sense and their value is mostly totally different. But they are willing to pay as the primary group gets value from the product that trickles directly to this group.
Social media: Advertisers, Games vendors and services like employment agencies and HR departments. Their needs are overview and statistics, delivery and payment mechanisms, and overview and simple connection processes.
Enterprise software: Management with their needs for overview and ‘control’.
ESW started out with products only of interest to the secondary customer – ERP, back-office systems, accounting – while the primary group saw no change to his daily work except that numbers entry moved from paper to electronic format. The processes and activities remained the same.
From that ESW vendors built a sales channel, a marketing regime and brand building always geared towards the secondary customer. Which directed the product development as well where every new feature, every new development program had only one focus – to please the secondary customer even more.
Then something changed: Software became a tool to make cognitive work more efficient and the importance of the primary group increased fast to become more important value-delivery-wise than all that commodity back end stuff nobody but the secondary group sees.
Now, go visit the web sites of large ESW vendors and read with the eyes of a daily user, a mere employee – what do you see? Does the words speak to you? Does “Develop a roadmap to the cloud” or “Best businesses run SAP” or “Oracle is the leader in application servers” speak to you? Does that fire you up giving you a warm and fuzzy feeling that those guys can make your daily life better?
On the other hand a new breed of software vendors emerged; social media and many new and modern vendors understands the issue so they’re focused on the primary user, i.e. you. Not much of “Next-generation HR software in the cloud” at Linkedin or “See our roadmap for cloud servers for social interaction” at Facebook.
How successful do you think Google would be if their products first and foremost were built for the advertisers and their needs to punch on users and control the ad stream?
Most of the users of these new products are also employees, so they started to bring some of these new systems and ways to use them to the job. And now the management have been observing this, comparing the willingness to adopt to the reluctance that classic ESW meets, concluding that something must be good about some of that. And a flurry of social media in the business marketplace followed.
In other words, the primary and secondary customer groups at corporations now acts like the same groups in the consumer space.
But that fact has yet to trickle down to the large ESW vendors. Just check out their web sites again if you’re not convinced!
There is one sign though that they’re not totally blind; lip service ensued with much talk of user-friendly interfaces. But that’s spray-painting the old banger at best.
In short, classic software vendors develop software for and speak to the wrong user group.
[EMBARRASSING DISCLOSURE: When writing this I checked out our own site, and lo and behold, had been walking straight into same trap... ehem. Fixed ]
(Cross-posted @ thingamy)