One Software CEO’s View on “Ease” Buyers vs. “Function” Buyers

June 1, 2009
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In a recent First Thing Monday, “Of Human Capital: SAP’s SaaS Plans, Kronos’ CEO, and “Closed-Door” Apps,” I repeated a conversation that I had had with Aron Ain, CEO of Kronos, a leading HCM supplier. Here’s an excerpt:

“Mr. Ain told me that he had hired a consulting company to help him better understand his win-loss ratio. His “aha!” moment came when he saw his prospect base consisted of two types of prospects: function buyers and ease buyers. Classically, Kronos had done well in sales situations that required deep functionality. Unfortunately, customers buying on the basis of ease of use represented the majority of opportunities. They saw his product as being more complex and harder to use than offerings from the Big ERP vendors. He was shocked.”

That piece hit a nerve with Prashanth Palakurthi, founder and CEO, Reflexis Systems. Here’s his take on Ease vs. Functions:

“Aron Ain makes valid points on the software selection process focusing on two dimensions: ease of use vs. feature functionality. (I would add domain expertise as an equally important consideration.)

Vendors winning exclusively on “ease of use” put the sting on customers by filling in functionality gaps with .

In a recent First Thing Monday, “Of Human Capital: SAP’s SaaS Plans, Kronos’ CEO, and “Closed-Door” Apps,” I repeated a conversation that I had had with Aron Ain, CEO of Kronos, a leading HCM supplier. Here’s an excerpt:

“Mr. Ain told me that he had hired a consulting company to help him better understand his win-loss ratio. His “aha!” moment came when he saw his prospect base consisted of two types of prospects: function buyers and ease buyers. Classically, Kronos had done well in sales situations that required deep functionality. Unfortunately, customers buying on the basis of ease of use represented the majority of opportunities. They saw his product as being more complex and harder to use than offerings from the Big ERP vendors. He was shocked.”

That piece hit a nerve with Prashanth Palakurthi, founder and CEO, Reflexis Systems. Here’s his take on Ease vs. Functions:

“Aron Ain makes valid points on the software selection process focusing on two dimensions: ease of use vs. feature functionality. (I would add domain expertise as an equally important consideration.)

Vendors winning exclusively on “ease of use” put the sting on customers by filling in functionality gaps with “customization” needs. In short duration, different versions of the vendor’s products mushroom, causing major maintenance challenge for the vendor and upgrade challenge to the customer.

Vendors winning exclusively on functionality richness on a single version of code are rigid and do not lend themselves to easy configuration to meet individual customer needs. This apparent false choice is necessitated due to high R&D costs of making highly configurable (yet scalable) software that is both easy- to-use and functionally comprehensive. I should know because of the time spent in our Board meetings (and we have just a single outside investor!) justifying why our R&D budgets are “way out-of-whack” with our peers in software industry.

Great article!”