It’s a rare computer user who hasn’t felt frustrated at some point with their computer, but apparently only a minority keep that aggravation bottled up. Rather, three out of five workers admit to venting their angst by yelling at their computers.
That’s one result of a study released last week by software-as-a-service provider TrackVia, which helps business users build their own software applications in the cloud.
A full 18 percent of TrackVia’s survey respondents said they’ve actually wanted to quit their jobs because of software frustrations. Another 17 percent said they’ve considered quitting because they lacked the right software to do their jobs.
“This information also highlights the disconnect that often occurs between the people designing or buying software and the people using it,” said Pete Khanna, CEO of TrackVia. “Clearly, this divide comes at a significant cost in terms of usability and productivity for the people who use company-provided software every day.”
To conduct its study, TrackVia hired Amplitude Research to survey 350 front-line business workers in the United States earlier this month about the business software they use.
5 percent of respondents said they waste an average of more than 10 hours a month because of software problems or flaws; 22 percent indicated that they waste between four and 10 hours; and 29 percent felt that one to three hours get wasted. Only 9 percent said their software doesn’t ever slow them down.
Among the most widely disliked software applications named were Microsoft Excel and Salesforce.com, TrackVia reported in an accompanying blog.
Almost 20 percent of respondents also said IT doesn’t understand their jobs, and 61 percent felt they could design more effective applications themselves if they had the necessary software development skills, TrackVia found.
The open source alternative
Now, TrackVia obviously has an inherent interest in pointing out the failings of commercial software applications, seeing as how its own business is built on offering an alternative.
Still, having spent more than 20 years in the workforce, I think there’s a strong element of truth in the company’s results. The study serves as a nice reminder of one of the key virtues of another alternative – namely, open source software.
Whereas most commercial software packages represent their makers’ best guesses at what users want, open source software is built by a community of users and developers to fit just what they want. It can also be easily modified by other users to suit their own specific needs without having to navigate the chains of vendor lock-in.
Commercial business software may still dominate much of the computing landscape, but open source software is on the rise. With data like this, it’s not hard to see why.