Khoi Vinh, a web designer at the New York Times, observes that business software applications “are some of the least friendly, most difficult systems ever committed to code.” Why? One of the reasons, he says, is that, unlike programs aimed at the consumer market, enterprise software:
doesn’t benefit from the rigor of a wide and varied base of users, many of whom will freely offer merciless feedback, goading and demanding it to be better with each new release. Shielded away from the bright scrutiny of the consumer marketplace and beholden only to a relatively small coterie of information technology managers who are concerned primarily with stability, security and the continual justification of their jobs and staffs, enterprise software answers to few actual users. Given that hothouse environment, it’s only natural that the result is often very strange.
His critique prompts a flood of incisive comments from the makers and users of enterprise applications. It’s all well worth reading.