A survey of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has found that there is a wide gap between what businesses want from technology and what software firms deliver.
Conducted by UK developer of business software, Benchmark Software, the survey of more than 400 SMEs found that:
- Over 80 per cent of SMEs realise that software can help their business and is a necessary investment;
- Over 60 per cent have difficulty in justifying the expenditure;
- 39 per cent of SMEs have purchased software but never used it. When asked to specify the reasons for this, 89 per cent said it was because the software was difficult to use, while 56 per cent said the software was not what they had expected.
Other findings of the survey include:
- Seventy-six per cent of SMEs find it difficult to work out the differences between software packages;
- Seventy per cent struggle to find software companies that allow them to "fine tune" the software in some way to suit their specific needs;
- Sixty-eight per cent have had difficulty finding the software they were looking for.
"As the UK SME software market was estimated to be worth £4.1 billion last year, this means that British SMEs could be wasting £1.5 billion buying software they never use," said Simon Harvey, managing director for Benchmark Software. "Vendors have become their own worst enemy with many software companies unable to say what they actually do, confusing prospective buyers as well as existing customers. Too many software companies try to sell to SMEs by using confusing marketing jargon to emphasise special functions and features, rather than explaining their products’ basic purpose. The problem is getting worse as software companies that have traditionally sold into the enterprise market are moving to the SME space."
"In talking to our customers about usability, managers frequently say that they have previously bought software that seemed to be what they wanted but then failed to live up to their expectations," he continued. "The findings of this survey strongly indicate that many companies do not clearly explain the functions and features of their packages upfront, leaving prospects and customers confused and reluctant to invest in software again."