When purchasing decisions involve heterodox interests, sales difficulties increase exponentially. A perfect example is enterprise Gmail. Gmail is undeniably a better-designed email product than most companies use, but Google butted up against unanticipated resistance when selling Gmail to enterprises. It turns out that enterprise purchasing decisions are far more complex than a single users.
The IT guy at my work and I talk often about what it would take to move our firm from Lotus to Gmail (consensus: an act of god). He pointed me to this article from CIO: Why Enterprises Are Moving to Google Apps, Gmail. Here’s what I found most interesting:
Perhaps most significantly, at a Google Apps CIO roundtable event in San Francisco this week, Google announced that enterprise users of Google Apps could access Gmail through an Outlook client. The company hopes it will quell the protests by users who have become tethered to the desktop app and who, as a result, have sometimes hindered enterprise adoption of Google Apps.
“For me, it eliminates the last hurdle or mindset for letting go of [Microsoft] Exchange or the Exchange mentality,” said Bob Rudy, vice president and CIO of Avago, a semiconductor company that moved its employees over to Google Apps, during the event. “This will help with adoption.”
It turns out that people don’t necessarily want better email (at least not in the sense that Google initially thought). Sometimes they just want a better version of their current user experience. Sometimes they even want something you never even imagined could be important. From the consistently excellent IgnoretheCode (aka, Lukas Mathis):
If your users reject an improved user interface, you need to start out by figuring out exactly what motivates them to prefer the more complex solution.
Of course, there’s more at issue here than UI, but the general point remains. When people reject an objectively better solution (at least in your eyes), you better find out why.
Here are some random thoughts/questions I’ve been kicking around lately. They’re mostly half-baked. Thoughts welcome.
*HT to Mark M. for the line
There are no absolutes on the web. The reality is that like a lot of science - like chemistry or physics - in the beginning we use very simple models and as our knowledge and understanding of the field grows, these models become out of date. As our understanding of the many various edge cases increase we develop newer, more complex models.
The amount of time I’m willing to spend learning a new software product directly correlates to the price I paid for it.
Since I pay nothing for web apps, they get about five minutes of my time. A quick straw poll of friends reveals I’m not alone in this.
The lesson: for freemium/free apps, the key to adoption is simplicity.
Note: thinking about this reminded me of a post last month from Paul Buchheit: If your product is Great, it doesn’t need to be Good. Well worth the read.
I love this toggle. If the red-eye toggle depends on the software’s ability to distinguish an eye from the surrounding area, then the color/texture of the surrounding area is required information. So why not ask in the most common-sense language possible?
btw, that’s my parents’ dog Lexie. She just turned one (note the tiara)
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