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The first law of software: Attract users

Enterprise IT for too long has been focused on the CIO and not on the rank and file users of applications.

Enterprise IT struggles to overcome the risk of vendor lock-in, the risk of IT project delivery failure, and a range of other risks.

However, as Julien Le Nestour expertly elucidates, the biggest risk for enterprise IT is a dearth of user adoption.

With this risk in mind, Le Nestour suggests that enterprise IT revise its strategies for evaluating and purchasing software with the user in mind:

(T)he IT function needs to change its mindset and view of itself. Instead of deploying tools where user adoption is taken for granted, IT leaders must realize they're competing with other applications and need to win the employee's business, just as any product available on the consumer market.

Obvious, right? Well, if you've ever worked with or for enterprise IT, you know that it's not. All sorts of considerations go into an IT strategy: user adoption, unfortunately, is not always at the top of the list of considerations.

Taking a different slant on a Biblical phrase, "enterprise IT was made for users, not users for enterprise IT." In other words, enterprise applications should fit into the world that their intended users already live within, and not force them to learn a completely novel language of productivity.

It need not be this way. Facebook and other new applications have shown that IT need not be cumbersome to be powerful. We need more such "consumerization of IT." Otherwise, we're left with software that costs much and does little, because its intended audience does little with it.

This is one reason that I recommend that enterprises evaluate open-source applications. They may well prove to be as user-unfriendly as more traditional enterprise IT, but the difference is that their licensing allows an IT department to fully evaluate open source with users before making a subscription purchase, if any.

Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.