Our entire world runs on software. Recently on Charlie Rose, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt shared that every industrial company needs to be a software company and that GE is investing heavily to organically grow its software acumen. GE is not the only company turning to software for growth. Pervasive anytime-anywhere connectivity, the proliferation of the Internet of Things, and ever-increasing customer demands for all things new and cool have made software the innovation engine and source of strategic competitive advantage for businesses in industries spanning financial services, automotive, healthcare, consumer electronics, aerospace and defense, energy, banking, and countless others.
Escalating competition in software drives demand for speedier delivery and better quality. Being able to bring innovative, higher-value software to customers sooner has become synonymous with winning. But how can organizations succeed in this software-driven world given its potentially challenging realities, such as the proliferation of open source tools, globally dispersed teams, intellectual property risks, and strict government regulations? Let’s look at them in more detail.
Open source tools can help expedite innovation, improve software development effectiveness, and drive down cost. Frequently, open source solutions can solve a particular problem better than existing big-brand tools. Moreover, using the latest and greatest technology excites developers. The problem for the enterprise arises when open source software is not managed properly, which creates a large inventory of shadow IT and introduces a slew of legal challenges regarding security, IP management, and audit compliance.
For a global enterprise, the situation gets even more complicated with the proliferation of disparate development tools, globally scattered development teams, and diverging methodologies, processes, and version control systems. Dispersed teams pulling in different directions can slow down the enterprise as a whole and hinder its ability to effectively meet business goals.
The most valuable intellectual property many companies have is source code. Consequences of poorly secured or managed source code can be devastating. The February 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers report “Economic Impact of Trade Secret Theft” describes a case of source code theft amounting to US $50–$100 million worth of trade secrets stolen from just one company. No doubt, safeguarding IP is of paramount importance to everyone involved in the business of software.
Another reality is strict industry regulations—with some standards, such as ISO 26262 for automotive safety and RTCA DO-178 for integrated modular avionics, defining not only performance-and-safety-related requirements, but also the software development process itself (making the task of delivering software all the more complex).
Organizations can overcome these challenges and compete successfully by being able to successfully connect the teams, tools, processes, and intellectual assets together to accelerate software delivery, as well as implement governance initiatives to safeguard IP and maintain compliance with industry regulations. Many leading companies and government agencies understand that they can meet these objectives by empowering their teams with the freedom to choose the tools, version control systems, and development methodologies that best meet their unique needs. However, being able to connect these dispersed and cross-functional teams within a cloud-based community architecture is imperative not only for collaboration and efficiency, but for the enterprise level governance and regulatory activities where the audit and compliance function requires the centralized visibility to track and manage many projects with up to tens of thousands of developers.
As my CEO Flint Brenton says, “Centralization means breaking down organizational silos & creating an environment that encourages collaboration." Enterprises that can capitalize on centralization are able to bring better software solutions to customers sooner and therefore, have a better chance of winning.