I am thinking of developing a new and revolutionary handheld device. It will be called the iCan – aptly named to leverage off a famous fruit company's brand. This is truly a neat device, if I may say so myself. It’s powered by brain waves rather than the more conventional battery (which is oh-so last century technology), and has a touch screen that responds appropriately to any part of your body - not just your finger.
The beauty of the iCan is that it doesn't actually do anything, because it's up to you to make it do whatever you like – hence the name iCan. Now I know that some people would baulk at paying good money for something as revolutionary as the iCan so I am also developing another device, at the other end of the spectrum, the weCan - pronounced wiican. This device is designed so that lots and lots of people working together can make the device do something useful – hence the name weCan. Unfortunately the weCan, while in itself not an expensive item, will probably end up costing you millions of dollars in consulting fees.
These ground-breaking devices remind me of how software works; most business applications are developed to work somewhere on the iCan-weCan scale. At one end of this scale are applications that can easily be modified by you personally and at the other (horrid) end are applications that require an army of white-suited technicians to make any minor change.
Today the reality is that business applications fall somewhere between these two extremes. Increasingly, however, the user experience is an important factor when determining the acceptance or not of applications within an organization. The application must have the correct functionality to be able to help you run your business; but additionally it should behave the way you expect it to out of the box. If it doesn't quite work the way you had expected it to, then you should be able to tweak the application so that it behaves (and looks) the way you want it to, without having to resort to a programmer to help you achieve this.
At SYSPRO we have coined the rather prosaic name Power Tailoring. For us this denotes that the power to be able to tailor the system should be in your hands. It is, in effect, an iCan system. So, the more we allow you to change the application yourself the more likely you are to get the best out of your system, and the more likely it is that your people will respond positively to using the system. Part of our job, as providers of business software, is to deliver an intuitive user experience and to help you maximise the effective use of the software in your organization. Let's face it, the current generation of youngsters, fresh out of college and looking for employment, are all firmly entrenched in the iPod and Internet era - and they all expect software to work in an intuitive way.
I think that business applications written with the iCan principle in mind should be a priority.
To misquote Descartes: I think therefore iCan.