IT Can’t Keep Giving Users Forks to Eat Soup

Yammer’s Adam Pisoni says traditional enterprise software sometimes feels like being forced to eat soup with a fork when you know there’s a spoon out there.

It seems IT is stacked up against users these days, doesn’t it? As Adam Pisoni, co-founder of Yammer put it recently at the info360 conference in New York, “Enterprise software is like going to a restaurant and being given a fork to eat soup. Users know a spoon exists,” Pisoni said.

And they’re angry that you’re not giving it to them.

Pisoni says, on the other hand, IT sees users as lazy and ungrateful. You go to all this trouble to carefully choose a software package for your company and users are simply too lazy to use it.

For users, it’s just another monolithic piece of software sent down from above and forced upon them. It’s clunky and difficult to use and it probably doesn’t even integrate into the single sign-on system.

Users then blame you in IT for not having good software. They may even believe you sat around and planned how to make their lives more difficult by thrusting another package upon them that’s too hard to use.

Pisoni points to the consumerization trend (as you would expect from an executive whose company is a cloud vendor built on the freemium model ). He said tools are changing and indeed they are — and companies like Yammer are bringing about that change.

He says new technology is coming along that’s better suited to do a particular job. Maybe it’s simpler. Maybe it’s easier to use, but it does what users need it to do and is not bloated with functionality nobody needs or wants.

That’s why Pisoni says, “If you want to find the least efficient part of your company, look where the employees are breaking the rules the most.” That means they are trying to work around your carefully crafted systems, my friends.

Instead of fighting them, give the people what they want, and in the end Pisoni says everyone will win. IT will be more in line with using technology to fulfill the mission of the company, rather than getting in the way, which sadly, it often does — even with the best of intentions.

Says Pisoni, “Companies that learn to embrace volatility in the rapid pace of change, will be the most successful and you need your employees help to do it.” He adds, “Your employees are on the front line. They are in the best position to innovate.”

As IT pros, you need to give them the tools to help them do that and increasingly those tools are ones in the cloud, much like Yammer, ones that do a job and simplify not just user’s lives, but yours too.

Sounds like win-in to me.

Photo by bark. Used under Creative Commons License.


  1. Liz Q says:

    Give them what they ask for and more often than not they will still not use it, and moan in my experiance.
    Ultimately when it comes to logging things, documentation, and processes, humans are a lazy bunch, and if they can blame software or other things to get out of it , they will.

    • Ron Miller says:

      It’s just that kind of cynicism that Pisoni referred to. Doesn’t matter what IT gives you because you’re too lazy and stupid to use it anyways. The fact is, users do need to get work done, and they don’t want to fight their software to do it. So they find work-arounds outside of IT. While you’re trashing your users, they’re figuring out a way to get their work done without you.

  2. Nick says:

    Except for the fact that these decisions are usually made from higher up. You can’t just go in and replace the entire ASAP system for the whole company because some people don’t like it. Maybe the latest version is easier to use and sexy but it costs a lot of money to deploy and it might even be in the pipeline but it takes time.

    • Ron Miller says:

      That’s decision-making hierarchy is changing to some extent, and the fact is that users are finding work-arounds to the obtuse IT systems, but I don’t think Pisoni was suggesting you rip and replace. He was talking about the changing reality inside many companies today. How that transition happens on an individual company level will vary dramatically.

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