El secret de la indústria del programari

El venedorIt's an exciting time to be in the software industry. With the dot com boom and bust, and now “web 2.0” and social networking in the mainstream, we're still in our infancy but growing up.

On a grade level, I'd say we're probably around the 9th grade. We're still uncomfortable in our skin, we get excited by the the software that looks a little ‘overdeveloped', and we're just starting to build friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime.

Consumers are finally getting serious with our software. Product managers are finally getting some good taste – complimenting a great product with good design that's sales and marketing worthy.

That said, the fallacy of the software purchase still exists. When you buy a new car, you generally know that it's going to be comfortable, ride well, how it corners and how it accelerates just from the test drive. If you read about it in an auto magazine by a great journalist, you get a real feeling about how the car is going to feel before you ever get in it.

Software has test drives and reviews as well, but they never live up to our expectations, do they? Part of the problem is that, while cars go forward, backward and have doors and wheels, software doesn't follow the same rules… and nor do any two people use it alike. It isn't until we're mired in our day to day work that we figure out what's ‘missing' with the application. It's missed when it was designed. It's missed when it was developed. And worst, it's always missed in the sale.

This is because you and I don't buy software for how we're going to use it. Often times, we don't actually buy it at all – someone buys it for us. The software we use is often mandated due to a corporate relationship, discount, or the manner in which it interacts with our other systems. It amazes me how many times that companies have a robust purchasing process, certification requirements, service level agreements, security compliance, operating system compatibility… but no one actually utilitza l'aplicació fins molt de temps després de la compra i implementació.

It's, perhaps, one of the reasons why pirating software is so rampant. I don't want to even count how many thousands of dollars of software I've purchased that I used and gave up on, and never used again.

La vista des de la companyia de programari

The view from the software company is quite different altogether! Though our applications usually fix a primary problem and that's why people pay for it… there are so many tertiary issues out there that we have to take into consideration when developing it.

  • Com queda? - Contràriament a la creença popular, el programari is a beauty contest. I can point to dozens of applications that should ‘own' the market but don't even make the cut because they lack the aesthetics that grab the headlines.
  • Com es ven? - De vegades, les funcions són comercialitzables, però no són tan útils. A la indústria del correu electrònic, hi va haver un gran impuls durant un temps RSS. Everyone was asking for it but only a couple Email Service Providers had it. The funny thing is, a year later, and it's still not adopted in the mainstream by email marketers. It's one of those features that are marketable, but not really useful (yet).
  • Quina seguretat té? – this is one of those ‘small' items that are overlooked but can always sink a deal. As software providers, we should always strive for security and have it backed up through independent audits. Not doing so is irresponsible.
  • Què tan estable és? – surprisingly, stability is not something that's purchased – but it will make your life miserable if it's an issue. Stability is key to an application's reputation and profitability. The last thing you want to do is hire people to overcome stability issues. Stability is also a key strategy that should be at the foundation of every application. If you don't have a stable foundation, you're building a home that will one day crumble and fall.
  • Quin problema soluciona? - És per això que necessiteu el programari i si us ajudarà o no al vostre negoci. Per què entenem el problema i desenvolupem la solució, anem a treballar cada dia.

The secret of the software industry is that we DO NOT sell, buy, build, market and use software well. We have a long way to go before we graduate someday and do it all consistently. To last in this industry, companies often have to develop features and security to sell, but sacrifice usability and stability. It's a dangerous game. I look forward to the next decade and hope that we've matured enough to gain the right balance.

3 Comentaris

  1. 1

    Una de les preguntes més difícils que he de respondre és: "Si en dieu enginyeria de programari, per què no podeu obtenir resultats deterministes per als vostres projectes"?

    La meva resposta és similar a la que parleu aquí. Es tracta d’una nova indústria. Vam trigar milers d’anys a tornar on havien arribat els romans amb l’enginyeria. Un dels meus moments preferits a Itàlia va ser visitar el Panteó de Roma i veure el forat on Brunelleschi suposadament tallava un forat per esbrinar com els romans muntaven una cúpula tan gran (mentre intentava esbrinar com acabar el Duomo de Florència ).

    Som una disciplina jove i passarem temps abans de poder produir programari de qualitat de manera coherent. És per això que els desenvolupadors encara es consideren mags. Hem de controlar tot el que puguem (característica fluida, que permet als professionals del màrqueting conduir arquitectura de programari, una mala gestió), però no podem trontollar el fet que alguns programes ho tinguin i d'altres no. Fins llavors, aquest és el moment de la febre de l’or!

  2. 2

    El concepte sobredesenvolupat és tan cert a la web 2.0. Sembla que es creen moltes empreses al voltant d’un producte que no pensaria que seria capaç de mantenir una empresa sencera ... o bé s’adquireix (cosa que és ideal per a l’empresa) desapareix després de l'adopció mínima.

  3. 3

    Estic totalment d’acord amb la idea que la indústria del programari no s’ha desenvolupat completament al nivell que necessita per poder controlar la distribució del programari al consumidor. Vull dir que és totalment correcte quan dius que el programari s’utilitza de manera diferent amb cada consumidor i, per tant, no sempre satisfà tothom. La idea del programari pirata sorgeix a causa d’aquesta insatisfacció del consumidor, perquè teniu raó en pagar molts diners per un programari i utilitzar-lo i després renunciar-hi i no el torneu a utilitzar i suposo que aquesta idea no s’adapta quan parleu de gastar en alguna cosa que no serà a llarg termini. Per tant, al final la idea és certa fins que siguem coherents en la compra, construcció, comercialització i ús de programari, no podem evitar que apareguin aquestes idees equivocades.

Què et sembla?

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