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Software buyers vs. users

Posted by Meg Bear on April 28, 2009


boyinboxAs builders of software, we are always trying to make sure we invest wisely in the features we offer our customers.  There are never enough resources to do everything we’d like to do so prioritizing is a way of life.

In our attempt to make the right choices, we talk to a lot of customers, collecting feedback, use cases and the like.  One risk I’ve come to recognize, is that in talking to our customers, we often confuse buyers with users.

Not unlike the mom who buys their child a series of interesting and educational toys, only to find them way more interested in the box, we sometimes find ourselves puzzled that the things we are most proud of in our solutions, are not actually that appealing to the end users. 

It’s not that we don’t realize that, as technology geeks, what appeals to us might not exactly be mainstream, or even cool.  It’s just that we are surprised at how little the requirements we are given from the buyer actually align with the needs or wants of the user

A lot of this confusion comes as a direct result of the success of our industry.   Technology used to only be available to the select few in an organization and it was all about organizational function and value. 

Now technology is about so much more.  Our entire lives are about technology and our expectations on what it can do are ever increasing.  We expect technology to improve our lives.  It is no longer good enough for the technology to provide value to an organization, at the expense of the individual.   To be successful, business applications must have utility across all groups who use them, and in our case, that is everyone in your organization. 

As we set out to design Fusion talent applications we spent a lot of time thinking about users.   What do they want and how do they expect technology to help them?   

Of course, we are still very anxious to delight HR departments with our choices.  We will never forget our buyers, but  the role of the manager and worker, at every level of the organization chart, has been (and will continue to be) a big part of our thought process too.  

That’s right, you heard it here first.  Fusion Talent Management is not only a cool toy, it’s also a wicked cool box*.

 

________________________

 *anyone trying too hard for bonus points on my analogy with the Sun announcement, needs to take some time off.  I am not talking about hardware here, just a literal cardboard metaphor.

7 Responses to “Software buyers vs. users”

  1. I agree that now technology needs to have more of a platform basis to be vital toward a company. There are so many facets to organizations that you almost have to find something that is “one size fits all” for many members of the same organization. This can cut down on time and provide so much value.

    I saw that you mentioned a few vendors on the right side that you recommend…are their other HR vendors that you suggest? Let me know what you think of TalentSeekr (EnticeLabs product). I work there and I am curious to know what you think.

    • Meg Bear said

      @Cade as a vendor I make it a point to not comment on what I think of competing products. It’s not *exactly* against our blog policy, but it’s generally seen as bad manners. I have been on record suggesting that the Talent Management space has some outstanding vendors though.

      TalentedApps does participate in the HR Tech Central community as do other vendors and thus we’re listed in the “vendor” category as you mentioned.

  2. Keshav Subramanya said

    Excellent post. I guess developers of user-centric application sometimes so fall in love with the technological bits that their products are “too smart” for ordinary users. Like voice-activated phone calling or GPS systems that require users to say things in some specific way in some specific order, while the user just wants to find a place that sells falafels.

    And the problem isn’t new. I don’t think I know anyone who actually likes a phone tree, but that’s the user-interface most corporations have presented to people for years now – the “Please listen carefully because our menu has changed. For Sales press or say 7. For Service, press or say 9. If you want to talk to an operator, press or say 0….. Sorry, I didn’t understand what you said. For Accounts…”

  3. Meg Bear said

    @Keshav you should have heard my grandmother’s critique of the phone tree. She had MD and couldn’t see the buttons on the phone well, so by the time she figured out which to push she often got it wrong. My grandfather had issues with his vocal chords so voice recognition didn’t work for him. Between them they had all SORTs of problems trying to deal with any of the modern “conveniences” offered by technology.

  4. […] Meg has a knack for putting things into perspective; here, she rants on what users really want versus what buyers are getting for them.  She is also tops at finding a good use for an adorable […]

  5. Barfo Rama said

    Funny, I just ran across this posting while biding my time, because My Oracle Support has made itself barely usable, for the exact reason in this blog post.

    • Meg Bear said

      @B Doh! I can only tell you that we are working hard here to get better. Sorry we are not there yet. Hopefully you will continue to read our blog and help us grow and learn.

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