I’ve been around the IT world for a long time (over 32 years) and things are constantly changing.

One question that never seems to change in our world of “Value Add” is, “How do you compare to the built-in feature X”.

For nearly 15 years I’ve worked for AppSense, and now Ivanti.

Those businesses were, and still are, built on the principle of Adding Value, to improve the User Experience.

It’s like that fast food restaurant that always asks, “Would you like fries with that?” Two possible responses here:

  1. No thank you. There is enough salt and fat in my triple decker burger I’ve already ordered to have the desired effect on my arteries, or
  2. Yes, I would like fries with that. It makes it feel like a more balanced meal and I can then kid myself that I’ve had some Veggies today and feel better about my dietary choices.

If you get the analogy, Option 2 is all about the User Experience, Option 1 is all about – I know what I’m doing, what I have is good enough.

The built-in features in the Operating System (Think Windows, IOS, Android etc.) come with a range of feature and functions. Some are great, some are o.k.

If the built in O/S for our Mobile devices was fantastic, there’d be no need for any apps.

Just the same as if the off the showroom car was fantastic, it wouldn’t need options and there wouldn’t be any need for aftermarket players selling bull bars and 20-inch rims.

But we are all DIFFERENT, and our use cases are all DIFFERENT.

So, when customers say to me – “How does this compare to the FREE feature I already have?” I ask them if they’ve listed out and tested their use cases.

The reason being, the built-in feature will work well for certain use cases, for certain customers.

For Example, the Windows world has had NT Backup built into Windows from day one.

Will it backup data – Yes – will it be an effective backup solution for an Enterprise – No. And that’s exactly why most customers purchase a specific, dedicated, backup solution for their organisation.

Everyone understands that.

Three important questions to ask when assessing built-in features:

  1. What is the management overhead of using the built-in functionality? Typically, this one gets missed. Yes, the built in may be FREE, and may do what you think you want, but if it takes one FTE (Full Time Employee) dedicated to managing it, there’s a cost involved. I’ve been to sites where Teams looked after built in security features – difficult to propose an alternative when it’s obviously going to put people out of work.
  2. What User Experience are we after? Do you want the users to be able to roam different platforms and have the same experience for all their app settings etc? Do you want them to have the ability to decide, give a reason, and temporarily bypass some security restrictions? Are you o.k. if one user running a big Excel calculation, impacts every other user connected to the same Terminal Server etc? All important questions, all of which must be balanced between the value of User Experience, and the cost of the solution.
  3. What are others like us doing? If you’re a 10,000-seat organisation, and everyone your size is using a value add solution, maybe there’s a reason for that. Are others just ticking a box to keep the auditors at bay, or are they using the auditor’s report as an opportunity to drive real change. Do your research. Ask around. Maybe the Vendor can point you at a similar customer who’s implemented their solution and seen the value first hand.

So, there’s some questions for you.

I hope you find them useful when you sit down to assess the value of various built-in features and functions.

And just remember, when it comes down to that age-old question – “Would you like fries with that?”, it’s all about the User Experience, it’s not about the calories 😊

My name’s Shane Wescott, Tech Evangelist at Ivanti, and I’m here to help.

Hit me up on [email protected] if there is anything else I can do to add value to you.