Are Continuous Upgrades Actually “Up”?

In ERP land, the Cloud’s promise of instant and seamless upgrades is impossible to resist. No one likes to run 6-month project to upgrade to a year-old version of software. But Josh Greenbaum’s article “Quality Hell in SaaS-Land: Is the SaaS Business Model Based on a False Need for Continuous Upgrades?” raises some interesting questions.

Everyone has their “upgrade fail” stories, from the UI redesign from hell through multi-day outages. How many times have you updated a phone app and thought “ugh, I liked it better before”? Imagine this on the enterprise scale. Josh writes:     

Too many SaaS vendors have decided to err on the side of embracing an upgrade/update cadence that favors newness over quality, and frequency of updates over actual need. Or usability, desirability, and bug-free performance.

There must be a happy middle ground between “never install a new version until SP1 comes out” and “innovation for the sake of innovation”. How to get there? The “feedback loop in enterprise software”, as Josh highlights, is the crucial element. It seems like a no-brainer but how many SaaS companies actually listen to the customers and do it well? JP

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