Take a minute to read a few thoughts from eOne Director, Martin Olsen:
“Software is only as good as the people behind it.”
I am amazed at the abundance of passion that software users have for business software. Last week I witnessed an amazing community of people that are truly and fully invested in the software they rely on all day every day.
Now when I say passion I mean real exuberant, overflowing passion coming from accountants, IT people and CRM administrators. Now this is not a group of people that are not easily excited and not known for an outward display of emotion. So why did these people spend 8 hours a day listening, learning, sharing, teaching and generally getting really excited about their software?
When you think about it, it really is not surprising at all. If you ever speak with a carpenter you will always find them very willing to talk about their tools – the things that help them craft fantastic furniture or they use to build a house. They are very protective of their tools, they spend a huge amount of time sharpening, oiling, repairing and if you tried to use one of the ‘special’ tools you would be very quickly stopped. These tools are the most crucial part of doing their job.
This is exactly the same for accountants and anyone working in the accounts department of a mid-size business. Your ERP or CRM is something you use all day every day. You rely on it to be successful. You must learn it inside and out. You get excited about its function and its features. You become protective of it if anyone says anything bad about it. You want to find ways to make it better. You spend time learning how other people use it. You buy addon tools to enhance it. Your ability to succeed in your job is directly related to the tool you use all day every day.
ERP and CRM software are unique in the software world in that you use it 8hrs or 9hrs or 10 hrs every day. A tool like Microsoft Paint you use occasionally. Skype you might use a few times a day. Word, you use when you need to write a letter (or this blog). Facebook you use at night when watching TV! BUT your ERP is directly tied to the success of a business, and the success of your career. I understand where the passion comes from.
This week I heard statements like this one “SmartConnect is just the best tool, we use it for so many things. It drives our business and without it we could not operate as a company. We love GP and CRM. Our systems make our business successful”. This guy was truly excited, and very happy to meet the people that write the software he loves. It was an awesome experience for me as a CEO of a small software company – to hear what a massive influence we have on other companies.
For all the above reasons software user conferences are just fantastic places to be. The customers are excited, the team at Dynamics Communities who host the event are awesome, the ISV’s are equally passionate and take both positive and negative feedback well.
While this is a totally positive blog, I do want to offer some advice to my friends at Microsoft. It seems to me that Microsoft are yet to understand the work life of an ERP user. Microsoft had only a small presence at this event and yet they are the authors of the Dynamics Software. Microsoft have outsourced this event to a user group community (who do a great job) – when really as the company that writes the software they should be leading the charge to keep these users passionate. I expect Microsoft would fuel the passion, support the passion and show a huge amount of love to these software users.
Let’s take Dynamics GP as an example. Microsoft announced that they have 47,000 companies using Dynamics GP – which is a massive client base in ERP circles. If we guess that on average each company has 10 users (this number may be much higher) – then we are talking 470,000 (lets round up to 500,000) people whose jobs, success and career depend on this software. If I had a client base of 470,000 people I would do everything I could to keep them loving my tool. I would have a very strong and clear roadmap. I would be adding great new features as fast as I can. I would be actively recruiting and supporting third party developers to help make Dynamics GP better.
Imagine 470,000 people telling their friends how awesome GP is. Imagine at each CPA conference these passionate people telling everyone how awesome their system are thanks to Microsoft. Then those people would tell other people. I guess you can see where I am going here.
Microsoft is a great marketing company which is fantastic for some type of software – including ERP. If Microsoft could harness the passion of their users and find ways maintain this passion – then they would very quickly dominate the mid market ERP space. I am of the opinion that Microsoft do not know what a good thing they have – and they are not taking the right steps to grow and maintain this awesome user community. The inevitable result will be all these great users will turn their passion elsewhere to an ERP company that does understand how important their software is.
So thank you to all the people I met who relit the fire in my belly. Thank you for the passion you have and you willingness to share this with others. Thank you to the Dynamic Communities team for a great event. Thank you to the ISV’s who fill in all the gaps and make Dynamics better. Thank you to those dedicated Microsoft employees to really ‘get it’. My only ask is that Microsoft divert some of your marketing dollars and SEO spend – to build incredible ways to look after your passionate software users which in turn will sell you a bucket load of software thanks to the referrals from the ERP users that love your solutions.