Software Bloat vs. Ease-of-Use

Tips & Tricks
May 30, 2005
3 Min Read

I spent the last week at an industry conference sponsored by the Software and Information Industry Association. The Enterprise Software Summit section of the conference centered around two topics: open source and software-as-a-service (SaaS). One major theme was that SaaS was increasingly becoming a strategic answer because IT departments didn't listen and enterprise software is bloated. One the one hand, with QuickBase being an SaaS, I guess this is good news. However, being a techie, I don't like either message. The first says that technical folks can't "hear" business talk, and the second says that software vendors can't "hear" their customers. Ugh... the first "trend" is something that I could talk about for hours, but will spare you. The second is more appropriate for this blog.

In my (humble) opinion, the challenge isn't the platform (i.e., SaaS vs. installed software), but the way we approach software in general. SaaS vendors are just younger, thus haven't experience bloat... yet. I see the push to bloat every day. And, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the QuickBase engineering team in the way they handle that push. They hear customers and want to respond to their needs, but often the requests make the software harder to use. The art is when you can both respond to the needs and continue to have easy-to-use, easy-to-understand software. Maybe I can coax one of the engineers to discuss a problem like this, so you can see the struggle in action, but in general, please tell us where you think we are doing well on this front, and where we aren't!

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