Friday, December 18, 2009

“A Link and a Login”

Software has always been an “intangible”, making it difficult to understand the value of what the software offers – and it only gets harder.

In the mainframe era, a new software customer would expect to receive a box containing tapes and administrator manuals, plus several boxes with user manuals, quick start guides, and even keyboard templates (to help remember the arcane keyboard commands). Additionally, one might expect several people from the vendor to arrive on-site to perform the installation, migrate data, implement customization, and then train administrators and users.

When PC software became the norm, the physical deliverable might include shrink-wrapped boxes of floppy disks, installation and quick guides, manuals, etc. for each user in the customer’s organization. As users, our shelves often held more boxes of software than books!

Today, the “deliverable” for hosted, on-demand, and SaaS offerings may simply be a link and a login. No boxes, no installation, no physical manuals; everything is online and accessed via a link and a login. Talk about intangible!

This makes it harder than ever for vendors to communicate the value of the software – and why it is so important to uncover customer perceptions of value during qualification and discovery, as expressed in measurable numbers (time, people, money), and present that value during demos.

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