What can ERP vendors learn from Apple? A lot according to Meta Group analyst David Yockelson. "As we reflect on Apple's recent rebirth and success, we note many desirable characteristics relative to innovation, user focus, etc. that should be considered by the ERP community (if not others)," Yockelson explains. In a recent report (client reg. req)he offers some key elements from Apples playbook that canbenefit the enterprise applications space. For instance, consider the well-designed user iPod interface. "The more process-friendly (analogous to "lifestyle friendly," perhaps) an application can be" he said,"and the more pluggable with its surroundings it can be (think portal for consistent UI; automated provisioning of security services or even software, storage, etc. during usage spikes), the easier it will be accepted."
Taking into consideration that training is a high cost and significant impediment to application deployment, any effort to simplify the user-experience is a step in the right direction. But applying a page from Apple's playbook here may be much easier said than done for complex enterprise applications that can resemble anything but the elegance of the iTunes/iPod interface.
Yockelson also talks about how everyday tasks should be easy and fun: "Similarly, applications must not simply repave cow paths; they should provide new ways to conquer rote process or innovate to facilitate new ones. In so doing, they must provide optimal performance and usability for the "lowest common denominator" users and situations. From an information standpoint, applications should strive to enable the manipulation of key information in as many contexts as an iPod does the music it holds."
Also commendable is how Apple recognized that partnering with its enemies (Microsoft and Sony) was necessary to fill out its platforms. "No one is too "remote" to be part of the picture (again, in some cases). From a technology standpoint, partners, even if fleeting, can be found in unexpected places." While this attitude can open opportunities for any vendor, Yockelson stops short of providing any details or suggestionsforERP providers.