Just in time for Halloween, here’s a warning about scary enterprise apps and a reminder that it takes a community to build a decent solution.Matt Asay’s Open Source blog on CNET highlighted a terrific post by Khoi Vinh, design director for NYTimes.com. Vinh’s Subtraction blog takes on the “freakish” design qualities of many enterprise applications.
“Enterprise software, it can hardly be debated, is pretty bad stuff. The high-dollar applications that businesses use to run their internal operations … are some of the least friendly, most difficult systems ever committed to code.This is partly because enterprise software rarely gets critiqued the way even a US$30 piece of shareware will. It doesn’t benefit from the rigor of a wide and varied base of users, many of whom will freely offer merciless feedback, goading and demanding it to be better with each new release. Shielded away from the bright scrutiny of the consumer marketplace and beholden only to a relatively small coterie of information technology managers who are concerned primarily with stability, security and the continual justification of their jobs and staffs, enterprise software answers to few actual users.”
Vinh goes on to savage the latest Lotus Notes 8 ad campaign — “freakish” is too mild a term for it. Read the whole “If It Looks Like a Cow, Swims Like a Dolphin and Quacks Like a Duck, It Must Be Enterprise Software” post for more. Matt Asay’s point is simple — open source enterprise applications have at least a chance of being better thanks to the community processes underlying open source development. And if IT departments began using their own community of users to shape development … who knows what might happen?