Will Empowered Users Change How Business Software Is Serviced?

Here is a short anecdote to explain that question. As you’d expect, I’m an intense user of email, and here at Forrester, our IT department provides us with Microsoft Outlook. They also regularly slap my wrist because my email storage requirements are “excessive,” which is mainly due to the fact that I retain all my sent mails on file and Outlook has no facility to detach and delete attachments when filing. So, in order to save myself the relatively nonsensical task of manually detaching all attachments, I have found a nice utility tool called EZDetach from a firm called TechHit to do this in an automated manner. It probably saves me a couple of hours per month, and TechHit also provides other useful tools for filing and folder management in Outlook. I found it myself, downloaded and installed it myself, and even paid for the software myself (though I might try to sneak that invoice into an expense report some time). I don’t feel guilty at having bypassed IT, only relieved that I can disappear from their evident blacklist of individuals overusing their storage. I feel even more secure after my analyst colleague Stefan Ried, who knows much more about these things, raved enthusiastically about the same software in a recent tweet. I suppose that makes me an empowered user; though I did not help a customer directly though my action, I certainly freed up more time to interact with clients.

The above behavior is a great example of what I describe in my new report “Empowered Users Will Change How Business Software Is Served,” (if you cannot access it then drop me a line and I will try to help). While I am, if only just, an “Older Boomer” in the Forrester classification of age groups, many of us business users, but especially the younger Gen Y-age professionals and Millennials, do now feel confident enough to try to solve their IT problems themselves. People are granting corporate IT rules and policies less attention and, soon, nearly half of many workforces will be located in a remote location, outside of any corporate firewalls and out of sight of the IT department.

The empowerment of software users will change expectations in all business application software markets and in all interaction phases: from buying, as in my example, right through to customer service. In response to performance or quality issues, some users will select the most convenient port of call to register their complaints or service requests, and more often than not, that will be a tweet or a dialogue with peers (other users) in a private or even public social media network — they will likely ignore the traditional IT service desk.

These trends meet as a perfect storm in the IT management software (ITMS) market, which includes the vendors of IT service desk software and services. Tech marketers in that market must move fast to adapt social media technologies and the culture, or their products could well be disintermediated in the future — just not used at all. The ITMS market is, therefore, being shaken up with the rise of several more-adaptive new ITMS entrants, some product innovation from incumbent ITMS vendors, and a new list of pure-play cloud providers that will provide their own service and may even want to subsume the ITMS vendors into their ecosystems. Tech marketers in all software markets must consider how their customer service processes and facilities must shift in response to these changes. ITMS tech marketers must consider it urgently.

What do you think? I look forward to your comments as always.