What is the marketing appeal of clunky "enterprisey" products?



  • It seems, generally, that the clunkier and brittler a product is, the more dollars you can charge for it.

    An extra bonus is if it really has a metric fuckton of features but they all require extensive training or a sect of highly-paid consultants to be used; or if it requires manual data entry where an import could be expected; or if it requires you to memorize cryptic codes and numeric IDs instead of proper names for things; or if it crashes on a Unicode character input, a 9-character or longer password, or a workload exceeding that of a pocket calculator; or if it's a web-based tool that only works in MSIE with a ton of ActiveX controls, and UI is a shitload of popups; or it implements its own UI widgets and fucks up keyboard navigation completely. Feel free to mix and combine these, the more, the better.

    For example, anything made by Oracle. Or HP Quality Center (Quality, lol). Or SAP, G-d forbid.

    It looks to me that the corporate purchase drones just start drooling if you show them teh COMPLEX COMPLEXITY. Doesn't matter that the product takes months to even set up, that it will eat your budget into a black hole and be pain in the ass to use. In fact, the more of a pain it is, the more likely it is that it will get purchased.

    What I don't quite understand is how this marketing magic even works. It looks like if I built a tool (say, some enterprise time tracker/invoice tool, the market for some reason is always modestly hungry for these) that didn't have any of abovementioned atrocities, would work with minimal configuration and the CEO's mum could operate it, the chances to gain a paying customer are pretty much nil. Should I rid it with bugs, create a COBOListic "configuration language", make the UI harder to operate than a 747's cockpit for a secretary, set up a support hotline where the Philippine workers advise to reboot your PC for $.25/hour, and charge $10,000 per CPU core so it looks "serious" instead?



  • 'Enterprise Apps' generally don't get dinged for UX because they fill a complicated niche in expensive hardware, and the support contracts that you pay out the ass for to use the garbage apps are really the only competitor in the space because most companies don't want to deal with the bullshit.



  • Our company is able to charge licensing fees for really specific features of our application, but we basically have 30 years of legislation in our market area in code, and we have an insane compliance rating. Our complexity is painful to even think about...

    But it's hard to compete. It's only now that everyone is getting past 'cloud' and 'saas' that our market is starting to look at the idea, and so little guys are starting to appear. It's very interesting.



  • The mistake you are making is thinking that "enterprise" level companies make decisions based on merit. What actually happens is a vendor gets a contract because they know someone in the purchasing department of a big company, and then they hire the cheapest workforce to implement the program. Once they have the :wtf:-ridden mess, they sell it to others, leveraging connections and their previous contract as proof that the program works.

    The more clients with more requirements sign up, the more enterprisey the product becomes.



  • Salesman go direct to the C*O level of your company and buy them expensive lunches until they sign.

    ...

    Now I'll go back and actually read the OP.

    EDIT: Ok I did, not changing my post. Kian has a good point too: once you've sold it to like Ford and Gerber and the US Army, you can market it to other big companies based on that, so it becomes kind of a snowball. They used to call that "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM", back when IBM was the data processing company.



  • @Kian said:

    The mistake you are making is thinking that "enterprise" level companies make decisions based on merit. What actually happens is a vendor gets a contract because they know someone in the purchasing department of the big company, and then they hire the cheapest workforce to implement the program.

    I know how it works. I wonder if there is a way a product with more merit (maybe with less fluff) can beat them. How to tickle their marketing gland for the proper response, if you wish. Drink insane amounts of booze with their VPs (blakey just hanzo'd me)?



  • @wft said:

    I wonder if there is a way a product with more merit (maybe with less fluff) can beat them.

    1. Find out who sold it to Large Corporate Entity
    2. Hire him
    3. Give him a large expense account
    4. Be prepared at any time to crash-course to build any features Large Corporate Entity needs but you do not currently have implemented


  • @blakeyrat said:

    once you've sold it to like Ford and Gerber and the US Army, you can market it to other big companies based on that,

    Well, there's the devil: how to sell anything to Ford (or the like) in the first place?


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @wft said:

    I wonder if there is a way a product with more merit (maybe with less fluff) can beat them. How to tickle their marketing gland for the proper response, if you wish. Drink insane amounts of booze with their VPs

    As a person who is trying to do exactly that...that is pretty much how it works. Right place, right time, know the right people, drink scotch with them.

    Either they will hear about your product because you are the "go-to" in the industry, or they will hear about your product because you have made them know about it. Marketing works on drones. Relationships work on C*O's.



  • @wft said:

    I wonder if there is a way a product with more merit (maybe with less fluff) can beat them.

    Not at Big Enterprise level. You might sell to a smaller division of a big company, but they'll likely want a name behind whatever the get for the whole shebang for CYA purposes. Likely to have more success at smaller scales with smaller prices.



  • Doesn't matter much, as long as terms fit me. It isn't much about going large-scale, it is more about trying to make the kind of people who decide to buy a fuckton of Oracle databases to drive a measly PHP website with corporate news to buy your stuff, too.

    Or who buy another fuckton of "features" that never get used for realsies.



  • Two words: reports and dashboards. Make sure that your product contains some reports out of the box (the more, the better) and be sure to have a dashboard as well. Management people love dashboards and reports, because it gives them the feeling of being "in control" with just a glance at the thing.

    The reports don't have to make much sense, just as long as you give them a fancy name. For example, if you develop web analytics software then the combination of "rainfall in Singapore" offset against the usage of MSIE in a given month might make perfect sense to some managers.


  • sockdevs

    Yeah, this is the sector I'm in. A big selling point for us is the ability to show off reports and dashboards. Gotta love some Excel.



  • By the way, I know a way to sink almost any project out there: you have a large dataset, you have the most-used reports coded in the project, and now your customers want to make a "generic" report engine with a GUI on top of that, and allow your users to make custom reports.

    Once the word "generic" falls on your head, you can be pretty sure a few months to a few years, depending on the current financial standing of the company, are going to be spent in futile effort to make something that would have at least a bit of sense (it's easy to make a report engine that has bells and whistles but of which you can't make a single useful report). Scrapping the project off would take enormous effort (and maybe managerial charisma) because it's damn hard to admit you've spent a ton of your time and neurons into a shithole. Everyone gets to feel bad about it.

    I quit my previous job because of that. Didn't want to get caught in a layoff in a country I'm no permanent resident of. They're still floating, good for them, but the job is risky. And they have some quite capable competitors on the market.


  • sockdevs

    Can we say 'inner platform effect'?



  • Combined with second-system effect.


  • sockdevs

    Inner second-system platform effect. OMIGOSH.



  • @Polygeekery said:

    As a person who is trying to do exactly that...that is pretty much how it works. Right place, right time, know the right people, drink scotch with them.

    Either they will hear about your product because you are the "go-to" in the industry, or they will hear about your product because you have made them know about it. Marketing works on drones. Relationships work on C*O's.

    It's funny because the only job the "C*Os" have is to take rational decisions concerning the company, and apparently they're not even trying.


  • sockdevs

    @anonymous234 said:

    It's funny because the only job the "C*Os" have is to take rational decisions concerning the company, and apparently they're not even trying.

    Why would they? If it goes well, they get a fat paycheck; if it goes badly, a golden parachute. It's win-win.



  • I think the CEO job is mostly selling his stuff to the other CEOs. The board will hire the one with better relationships.

    It's kind of a circular reasoning, they are all CEOs because they are friends with the other CEOs.


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