1) Would you prefer to print your own boarding pass or have an agent do it for you?
2) Do you like taking your computer in for technical support or do you prefer to fix at home?
3) Do you want to call a restaurant for reservations or book it on OpenTable yourself?
Given the right tools, humans prefer self service. Especially when its easy. Even more so if they get value out of doing it (ie OpenTable will learn what you like and make recommendations). If it starts to get hard, people might prefer some help. If it gets hard, people refuse self-service and at that point, forcing them into a self-service model will push them to seek alternatives.
The future of enterprise software is self-service. Clients do not prefer to talk to sales people, but they have to, as a means to an end. Clients don’t like to hire consultants, but they have to when things get hard. Clients don’t want to take training classes, but they have to if the products are not intuitive.
Despite the claims heard every day on Silicon Valley Radio (my term for the chatter), the future of enterprise software is not holistically SaaS/Cloud. SaaS and Cloud do not necessarily deliver self-service, but they can. Irrespective of delivery model (On-Premise, Saas, Cloud), I believe clients will migrate to software with the following attributes:
1) Available for download on a public website.
2) Intuitive use: no manuals, no training…unless desired.
3) No sales people, consultants, or meetings…unless desired.
4) Quick value, based on how the software is used.
5) The software understands what the user needs, so every usage is more valuable.
Interestingly, I talk to very few companies that are focused on this. I am aware of only one that I think has done this quite well…and accordingly, they have been very successful.
This is not easy, but it is the future of enterprise software.
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