When I listen to business software makers talk about how their market has changed, they frequently tell me that the biggest influence on the landscape is consumer software: Hence the oft-repeated phrase “the consumerization of software.” That idea was rehashed during the enterprise panel at TechCrunch’s Real-Time CrunchUp today, but Gnip‘s Eric Marcoullier offered a fresh take on why this is happening.
The most common explanation was given at the beginning of the panel by Maynard Webb, chief executive of LiveOps, who said, “The consumer experience has totally lapped the user experience.” In other words, the tools that we use at home for productivity, for communication, and for social networking are suddenly so much better than what we use at work. And that, in turn, means companies and their employees are demanding better products at work.
But that isn’t quite right, said Marcoullier (whose company, Gnip, helps other web services share data quickly). He said the user experience in enterprise software has always been “pure shit” — the only difference is that in the past, we had nothing to compare it to, so we couldn’t tell how bad things were.
“Now the things you can do at work, you can compare them to the things you can do at home,” Marcoullier said.
Before the debate could get much further, panel moderator Erick Schonfeld cut Marcoullier off and redirected panelists to their ostensible topic, real-time communication. But regardless of which version of history you prefer, the description of the present and the future is the same — the tools we use at work are starting to look more like the tools we look at home, and that’s only going to become more true.
[image from 20th Century Fox's film Office Space]