How do large corporations work differently?
Design Expert, Good Taste Purveyor, Product Guy
Rise & proliferation of mobile computing has disrupted the enterprise software space.
The enterprise is filled with consumers at work.
You can't survive consumer world if your product frustrates. That soon applies to enterprise world.
There is a huge appetite for lean in big companies, but it is challenging.
Doing a monthly subscription has changed all of software development for the whole industry.
Lesson: Designing Your Experience with Jeff Veen
Step: #9 Corporations: How do large corporations work differently?
There's almost a lot of pressure, choose between business to business or business to consumer, right? I tell you, there's so increasingly, like year by year, less and less difference, and I think a lot of that has to do with what's happened in mobile where people would go to work and then get a computer handed to them from IT, and they'd get this really crappy software on it that they hated, and they'd have to go get training for this crappy enterprise software. When in their pocket they had an even more powerful computer that was delightful to use, and way better, and actually much more effective at helping them getting their work done. So what is that doing to enterprise software, right?
So I think we're really realizing that the enterprise is filled with consumers at work, and they aren't going to tolerate anymore that kind of software where you have those horrible forms to fill out, and all that kind of stuff that makes us all so frustrated. You can't survive in the consumer world if your software is frustrating, and now I think you're not going to be able to survive in enterprise world as well. That makes me really excited. It's like great validation after all these years.
Bringing a lean start-up methodology into a big company, there’s a huge appetite for it, but it's challenging, as you can imagine. It's not just that communication is easier at a smaller company so you can go a little faster, like team communications and decision making is a lot easier because you'll sit at the same table, right? At a big company there's more levels of communication and certainly more levels of decision making, but there's also implications to brand and marketing and legal that just don't exist for a startup, that you just don't need to think about.
I mean, if you go do a startup, what are you going to get? A few hundred thousand dollars or something, right? But you can really go after a big company, and so then there's a lot more risk analysis and legal protection and things like that, all of which just feels like it slows down everything because you're just trying to make decisions and write the code and ship the bits, and that can be frustrating. But I've seen, at least in the time that I've been there, like a real appetite from each sort of discipline in the organization. Clearly design and development want to go faster when I do this.
The way that Adobe, for example, marketed their products traditionally in the past was every 18 months they'd have a huge event and they'd have everybody out on stage at this giant venue, and it'd be the new Photoshop, right? Now we sort of can still kind of do that once a year, but it's more in retrospect, right? “Here are the things that have changed in the last year and here’s a couple of new things that we’re going to be doing soon.”
But the people who do marketing and craft those messages and hold onto the themes over the course of the year and stuff, they're totally up for that as well. Now, I realize launching a piece of software like four times a year is remarkable for Photoshop, not exactly lean and iterative and rapid development the way we think about it for startups. But it's also a 30-year-old piece of software that's tremendously complex with so many dependencies that I think it's pretty impressive.
Doing a monthly subscription has changed all of software development, I think, for the whole industry. It's just a matter of which parts of our technology industry are moving over sooner rather than later. Adobe, I think, is a good example. I think, a little bit later than a lot of other parts of our industry, if you look at how entertainment, books and movies and music are all delivered. We've had Spotify and the Kindle and things like that for quite awhile in this context. But for a lot of big software tools like what Microsoft is doing now and what Adobe is doing now, that's been a big shift.
It has really worked out, the people who use those software tools really like it because they get updates all the time. We do that, we ship Photoshop four times a year now instead of every 18 months. Huge change. The developers love it too, at Adobe, because they used to sit on futures for a year after it was done. It would be tested and baked and then, “Okay, I'll do some more,” and they wouldn't be able to get feedback from people and do things like that.
Yeah, smaller and faster is way better than these giant releases. I'm just glad I'm not working on hardware. That still seems like it tends to, the yearly release is still the norm, but for the software products we do it's been great.