Thursday, February 23, 2012

If you don't innovate, software is not the right industry for you

I spent most of today working with engineering team.  We were talking about redesigning one of our 6-year-old UI pages, and there was a question from an engineer:
Engineer: There must have been a reason why we made a decision to go with the current design.  It probably was designed to meet customer request [and therefore it must have been the right decision].
He was explaining why options on the UI page must have ended up being the way it is today.  Some customer interaction through somebody, probably product management team, must have driven the requirement to create the UI page that we have today.  He's probably correct.  But he missed a crucial point about software business.  It's that there is no staying still in software business.
If you see this in your software company,
Everything evolves constantly in software business.  Nothing stays in one place.  CPU power per cost increases, new product gets introduced, consumer taste changes and all vendors innovate like hell.  In the software industry, if you have a stale product, you are in fact getting behind.  Either you innovate and make head ways or you fail to innovate and get deteriorated then perish.  There is no such thing as staying 'on the course' to maintain the status quo in software business.

And the speed of innovation has been increasing.  We now expect software to be updated constantly, not in every 6 to 9 month cycle.  With iPhone App Store and hosted services (SaaS), we download updated application every week.  Testing out the new feature from the latest update made a few days ago is a new norm in software business.

This becomes evident if you look at today's webpage and compare that with web pages from several years ago.  Take a look at how Yahoo page used to look back in 2004:

You'll notice that the page looks static from today's standard.  Widgets are not updating with up-to-minute updates via AJAX and page is not refreshing as and when my friend shares something about the page.  Thanks to Facebook, Twitter and Google, we come to expect that our web pages get updated in real-time and act like applications.  In fact, the line is really getting blurred between application and web pages.  Most mobile applications are web pages that are custom built for the device platform.  At the same time, web pages are becoming more like applications where they react to user events and push out latest updates.

Because everything is changing, if anyone who wants to stay in the market must change.  If you are standing still, you are getting behind.

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