Back in August of this year, Marc Andreessen published an essay in the WSJ highlighting his thoughts on why software's eating the world. I encourage you to read it. It highlights something we firmly believe. We’ve entered the age of software, and you’re at its center. With December upon us, and many of you engaged in finalizing 2012 plans and reviewing your 3 - 5 year strategies, I encourage you to look beyond tech developments like cloud, Big Data, and the App Internet. Focus instead on what you need to deliver good software, and keep 3 things I'd gladly tell you and your CIO top of mind.
1. Software IS your business. This age isn't just about Borders and Amazon, game developers, or online service delivery capabilities. No, look at how software's increasingly a part of everyday life. What about your TV, your car? Heck, my wife's new ovens have software embedded in the digital display that takes all the guesswork out of baking! Whatever business you're in, be it financial services, public sector, consumer products, insurance, healthcare, energy, or logistics, you name it, you can no longer simply look at software or application development as a support function. Software IS your business.
2. Development is not a commodity, it is a competency. If you agree that software is your business, you cannot simply look at development as a commodity. You must look at it as a competency. Yes, you will need to augment and flex your staff to meet changing business demand, but you need a new strategy. You must build and maintain key competencies around solution architecture, software design, experience design, and business & process analysis – skills that require both left AND right brain functions. Frankly, failure to do so might very well result in your company being the next Borders example.
3. Customer experience focused design is where it’s at. I question anyone who believes they have a good design team but hasn't yet introduced customer experience principles like persona design, scenario design, and journey maps. Yesterday's user experience and human factors helped us build useful solutions. But tomorrow, you can't get by on useful. Customer centric design matters if you want to deliver, as Mike Gualtieri puts it, wildly desirable software. Embracing customer experience principles can help get you there.
Don’t think you can just outsource design either. Good design isn't simply about the visual experience. No, good design takes into consideration the entire experience - including how the software performs to the customer's expectations. Poor architecture and transactional support will kill any visually stunning experience.
What it means: Come 2017 I suspect we’ll look back at a decade defined by organizations that understood software's role in their business. I’m not referring to the Zyngas, Pandoras, or Groupons of the world. This decade will be defined by organizations, perhaps your own, that stopped looking at software & application development as a support function and embraced it as a competency.
Are you ready to make software your business? Please share your thoughts and help inform our research in this area.
by Kyle McNabb