So many software discussions seem to resolve to one question – who is ultimately defining and driving the software – the customer or the software company?
Almost always, its the software company. The software come up with something they want to sell, and a business model around it, and they go and sell it.
When customers complain about software – it is unwieldy, inflexible, too complex, doesn’t do what they want – usually an underlying problem is that these concerns are not coming to the surface enough while the software is being bought.
Ideally there would be a different business model entirely, around ongoing services with complete flexibility, no-one being tied to one company.
When the software procurement process is designed to try to ‘hear the voice of the customer’, often it fails too because the customer is not sophisticated enough to know what it (as a company) wants, or what it wants is too expensive to build and the person with the budget overrules it, and so on.
We can’t change the fundamentals of the software industry very easily. But what we can do is create better conversations about what software would look like if the customer really was in charge – and that will give customers much better ability to get it built.
Because the thing is – when customers think hard about what software they want, they usually seem to come up with the same thing – a range of flexible, light, configurable (including user configurable) ‘apps’ and dashboards at your fingertips, and a powerful database engine, with standard data, underneath it.
How should the right conversations be set up to build this?
Perhaps that is the right question to ask.