Gerry McGovern on why the old model of users in the enterprise is kaput

From users to customers | Gerry McGovern is a terrific newsletter/post.

He nails it when he describes how the user in an enterprise context is the last and least of the stakeholders in the acquisition of a CMS, CRM or other business platform. Such software is essential to the modern business and its evolving digital workplace, he provides the context for why productivity, adoption and governance — change management—are virtually impossible to achieve.

The short answer he offers is that the decision-makers in these large and complex software buys, the senior manager—or group of senior managers—responsible for signing off on the budget for the purchase of the technology, are customers that never actually use the software. “They don’t deliberately set out to buy unusable software for their employees. It’s just that they don’t care much either way whether it’s easy to use or not.”

Having been involved in many enterprise projects in which there is a complete disconnect between the executives and the users, his characterization of the process made me laugh:

There is often a mutual loathing between the technology vendor and the customer. The vendor feels that the customer is clueless, that they just spew out feature lists, That, while they talk about simplicity, they will always buy the sexiest, most complex, feature rich, weighed down by as many bells and whistles thing, and latest, coolest gizmo that they can possibly find. And that they want it all at crazy low prices.

The customer feels like they’re trapped in a horrible relationship because of all that legacy stuff. They feel that whatever price they are initially given, they will ultimately pay three times more. And most of them think that it just won’t work anyway.

This corrosive atmosphere thrives because nobody cares about the ‘user’. …

His answer is that the new model makes the customer, the person who uses the product or service, the center and focuses on use.

This is a theme he has been developing for years in his research and writing. One of my favorites is Why do organizations hate their content management system? | Gerry McGovern (2013).

In other essays, McGovern has developed his customer-centric thesis in part by emphasizing what people actually need by studying the tasks they perform and how systems can assist them. Top-task management is a methodology developed by Gerry McGovern to improve and optimize websites.

Gerry McGovern‘s weekly New Thinking newsletter is an excellent read at 500 words per.