Enterprise Software Lessons: Simple Is Easy to Understand but Hard to Build and Hard to Sell

04 Oct

Every other startup in the history of enterprise software claims to have the simplest solution to the domain problem they are solving. Seriously, have you ever heard anybody, even Oracle or SAP, say that their software is complex to use while selling to a customer??????

Psychologically, the reason why everyone claims to excel at simplicity if because simplicity drives adoption because it and removes friction from end users to embrace your product. Marketing aside, we all know that most enterprise software is not simple because the complexities of the problems in the enterprise domain. More importantly, as a startup, you need to very conscious of the fact that simplicity is very hard to build and really hard to sell.

This seems like a very simple statement but it’s really not. Striving for simplicity, requires a methodical engineering and user experience effort to hide the complexities of specific business or infrastructure interfaces behind very intuitive interfaces. With our latest product( ), we literally obsessed about reducing each one of its capabilities to its simplest representation and still managed to not get it right a lot of the times.

Secondly and most important, a lot of entrepreneurs mistakenly associate simplicity with reducing the number of features in a software product. While that could be certainly the case in the consumer market, the story is a bit different in the enterprise. For years, enterprises have acquired features based on feature richness and have even established processes such as RFI or RFPs solely intended to filter out vendors that can’t check out a few boxes. A lot of times, striving solely for simplicity might not be enough to convince enterprises to give you money for your software and you have to find the right balance between simplicity and feature richness.

Simplifying problems in the enterprise is not an easy task and some of those problems are far from being simple. As an enterprise software startup, my advice would be to attentively listen to your customers and domain experts while designing new features. While simplicity will always have its detractors, customers can provide a great level of insight about the nature of the problems you are trying to solve. While achieving simple solutions to complex problems will speak highly about your product engineering wise, stay aware that it might also impose additional burden during the sales cycle trying to convince customers that simple is better than complex.Who knew…..

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Posted by on October 4, 2012 in Uncategorized


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