What if we would select software services like food

What if we would select software services like food

July 24, 2012 8:15 am

tl;dr
Cheap is not usually healthy

Last time I watched a TED video where JP Rangaswami talks about Information is food.

“Information, if viewed from the point of view of food, is never a production issue. … It’s a consumption issue, and we have to start thinking about how we create diets [and] exercise.” (JP Rangaswami)

It got me thinking. I clearly remember a textbook from primary school that contained a picture of two stands from two different apple vendors. The first one had a sign that said “Beautiful apples” and on that stand there really were big and shiny apples. The second one had a sign “Healthy apples” and they looked different. They were smaller and covered with tiny black dots. And this stall had a long line of customers, who were waiting to buy the less perfectly shaped apples that were also a little bit more expensive. The first vendor was alone and was looking at the competitor angrily.

Beginners mistakes

At that time I was young and inexperienced. “I would rather go to the first vendor. There is no line, I would get more for less and they look almost perfect”. But when I grew older, when I have tried a lot of apples (of course this applies also to all other products as well) of different sizes, prices, varieties and sources, I slowly developed my preferences. The older I get, the more I appreciate quality even if that means that I have to pay some more.

I think the same analogy could be applied to software services. Which company would you rather go to? The one that promises you everything cheaper and quicker just to get another customer; or the company that tells you what is possible and what not, that needs more time than the first company and the service has a somewhat higher price? The only thing that you know is that the first company will deliver the product a bit faster at the end, it will look almost the same as from the second company, but the service will have more problems in the long-term.

The devil is in the details

The products can look the same from a distance, but when you look closely you can see that those small differences matter a lot. Let’s say that the second service is more user friendly and that enables users to do something 10% faster. Because of higher quality, the maintenance costs are another 10% lower.

When you escalate the service, the bigger it is and the more you use it, just those two 10% differences can make or break the deal.

So, in the long run you should probably take the second service when the budget or time is over a certain threshold.

Somebody will try to scam me

Naturally there will always be software companies that want to sell you expensive products even though their software is not any good. The same as some vendors lie and put signs “Healthy food” and want to charge you more, even if their products are neither healthy nor expensive to produce.

If you are unfortunate enough because of poor experiences, you develop a filter, that gut feeling that tells you when the vendor does or does not have a good product. But usually somebody you know already knows something about that company, or if everything else fails, you still have Google.

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