A Software-Defined World
Photo by Florian Olivo
Originally Posted On: https://www.yoavtchelet.com/a-software-defined-world/
Technology, especially software technology, has been changing the business landscape for years; it shall continue to do so for many years to come.
Today, thanks to how established businesses and startups have used and are using available software technology advancements to enhance service delivery, we can:
- Use ride-sharing apps such as Uber, Lyft, and others to request rides from the comfort of our living rooms, something that would have seemed inconceivable 10-20 years ago.
- Have drones deliver our goods, something that most established retailers such as Amazon and Alibaba have successfully piloted and are waiting to mass-rollout after governmental approvals.
- Have smart robots place automatic forex trades for us based on our risk criteria and income goals, which is the case with RoboTrader
- Use intuitive platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, Flipkey, and many others to book our stay at someone’s residence for half what you would have paid previously were you to book a hotel room in a prime location.
- Use smart, connected devices, and virtual assistant services such as Amazon Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and others to automate many elements of your home. For instance, using If This Then That (IFTT) commands, you can automate the control of smart lights and appliances.
This ‘small’ list of things we can do thanks to technological advancements compounds something we can all agree with: that technology has had a positive impact on every aspect of human lives.
Additionally, and as experts are often quick to point out, technology has allowed businesses to innovate faster and come up with new, better ways to serve us, the customers, better.
In the modern business landscape, the most profitable and successful businesses are the ones that have, and that keep adopting and integrating technology into their operations at every level possible.
Software is one of the technological advancements that businesses are increasingly turning to and using to enhance their efficiency, service delivery, and to remain competitive in a highly competitive marketplace.
Today, software-based advancements like anything as a Service (XaaS), an umbrella term that covers software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas), have altered the business in unchangeable ways.
Courtesy: BMC blogs
These changes to the business landscape have been so significant that we are now living in a software-defined world. In the future, the businesses that remain competitively profitable are those that integrate the use of software technologies into their base operations:
How Software-Defined Companies Are Changing the Business Landscape
We are living in a software-defined world. Think about it:
When you use your Uber, Lyft, or any other ride-sharing app to request a ride, use Zoom to hold conference calls, ask Alexa or Siri for instructions, or use Bitcoin to make a payment, you are, in essence, using software-dependent services.
Furthermore, the chances are high that once you use Amazon to purchase something, at some point in the value chain, one of Amazon’s 200,000 mobile robots that roam its vast warehouse networks will be instrumental in the order fulfilment process.
Software-defined companies are not businesses that sell software in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, they’re enterprises and companies that are adapting to and integrating software to their value chain or, if not that, using software advancements like cloud computing or AI to improve their ability to serve their target audiences.
Such businesses are changing the business landscape rapidly because of the following factors:
By design and compared to their non-software defined peers, software-defined companies and products are more agile; they are, therefore, more capable of pivoting and sprinting to keep up with rapid changes in the business atmosphere.
Being quick on their feet (agility) gives software-defined businesses advantages that traditional businesses can only hope for, advantages that are acting like great change catalyst in the business world.
For illustration, let’s use Google:
According to a HubSpot-compiled list of top 36 SaaS companies, Google has approximately 137 internet/software-based services that include Google AdSense, its primary moneymaker, contributing as much as 68% of Google’s income ($45 billion in 2014).
Because of it’s software-centric and internet-based nature, at a moment’s notice, Google can use continuous integration (CI) to offer real-time updates to its ad platform.
For instance, should Google decide to enhance its ad platform features, it would not need to take down the service, thus inconveniencing the end-user; it would simply roll it out using their intuitive Kubernetes infrastructure.
This inherent agility is one of the primary reasons why Google and other software-defined services and companies are dominating the marketplace and in their wake, changing the present business landscape at such as rapid rate.
Unlike their non-software-driven counterparts, these companies can pivot rapidly, thereby innovating faster and in ways that allow them to increase their efficiency, service delivery, and bottom line.
Businesses that use the traditional approach or model make money when potential costumers make their way to the physical store, browse, find something they like or want, and then make a purchase.
The traditional approach has many shortcomings, the chief of which is that it’s inefficient because it involves too many moving pieces that complicate the sales and buy-decision process. Software-defined businesses can shake off such disadvantages with ease.
Thanks to integrated technologies such as user-friendly, intuitive web-based platforms that use cloud-based architecture, software-defined companies can give their users a ton of functionalities at the click of a button.
Using other automated technologies such as chatbot solutions, they can also help customers through the purchase process. Chatbot solutions driven by Artificial Intelligence have changed how businesses provide customer service that a post on Big Commerce notes that Conversational bots are the future of eCommerce.
Zoom is a prime example of a software-defined business that oozes efficiency:
Because of its cloud-based nature, compared to its counterparts in the Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) market segment, Zoom is more efficient, which is why even though its launch is recent (January 2013), it’s dominating the market and outpacing competitors.
Additionally, because its hardware is in the “cloud,” it can deliver video and teleconferencing services faster, more efficiently, and at prices that are far below anything its competitors can offer.
An agile, efficiency-enhancing workflow is one of the hallmark features of software-defined businesses. The efficiency inherent in most of these enterprises is giving them a competitive advantage that is allowing them to innovate faster. By innovating at a faster pace, they can outpace their competitors, which is allowing them to re-shape business dynamics very swiftly.
Software-defined businesses such as those in the SaaS industry rely heavily on cloud-based infrastructure to deliver services. This reliance makes them immensely scalable.
That’s because since their framework is in the cloud, they can deploy many services and feature-offerings at a click of a button, which allows them to scale more efficiently and faster.
While writing for Medium, The Startup, Shane Springer, a Zoom Video Communications employee, notes this of the scalability inherent in software-defined businesses: “In this type of framework, a feature can be asked Friday and delivered Monday.”
Cloud-computing has been mainly instrumental at helping software-defined businesses uproot traditional working structures in place of new ones that allow them to offer a wide selection of services and features to an audience base using a wide range of devices.
With cloud computing, SaaS enterprises, for example, can use technologies such as cloud hardware and intelligence, cloud storage, cloud networking, cloud analytics, DevOps, Identity and access management (IAM), and many others to offer rapid solutions to emerging user needs.
These solutions allow them to deploy additional features fast and in a manner that heralds them into new spheres of growth and scalability that traditional businesses cannot compete against or match —at least not without integrating software into their structures.
Software-based businesses are also changing and revolutionizing entire industries. A prime example of this is the Blockchain technology, the underlying technology driving the cryptocurrency trend that’s now in vogue.
Cryptocurrencies are industry disrupters that promise to change the financial world in ways that would have seemed inconceivable 10-20 years ago. Should their wide adoption become a reality, a genuine possibility in the next 10-20 years, it’s bound to change how we conduct transactions in irreversible ways.
Away from decentralized currencies, the BlockChain technology, which we can term as a software-focused innovation, is disrupting industries such as the Internet of Things (IoT), the insurance, Asset management, healthcare, real estate, the legal sector, and even voting, to name but a few.
We cannot talk about how software-centric companies are changing the business landscape and fail to mention why these businesses are changing the landscape and dominating entire industries. This trend promises to continue going forward:
Why Software-Driven Businesses Will Dominate The Business Landscape of the Future
Enterprises that embrace and use software solutions to innovate and enhance service delivery will dominate the business landscape of the future. They will be leaders in industries such as finance, energy and utilities, healthcare and Lifesciences, finance, retail, and many other sectors.
This dominance will be because of various factors that are driving the development of software-based startups and the rapid adoption of Everything as a Service (XaaS). The most standout of these features include:
A convenience-driven world
Our desire for convenience is why we have innovations such as electricity, cars, computers, the internet, phones, and any other technological advancements imaginable.
Technology has made our lives vastly efficient. That notwithstanding, consumer expectations are that as new technologies such as AI mature and become widely adopted, convenience will become a defining characteristic of business life.
They expect the companies they favour to offer them convenience-driven products and services that save them time, effort, energy, and other resources. They also expect the methodology of using these services to be efficient and frustration-free. These expectations are acting as a catalyst that is driving many businesses to innovate and look for new ways to serve their core consumer base better.
Software is one of the technological advancements businesses are capitalizing on to offer their consumers the convenience they’re demanding, which, in turn, is driving the rapid integration of software into various aspects of business operations.
Enterprises that fail to innovate and come up with better ways to offer their end-users services in a seamless, simple and more convenient manner will trail behind their peers that do.
On the other hand, those that fully integrate software-driven solutions into their operations will leverage the power of intelligent backend solutions to offer users a convenient frontend system. The future belongs to the companies and businesses that fully embrace this and lean into it.
There’s nothing consumers love more than to have a feature-rich Rolodex at affordable prices. Affordability is one of the main reasons why software-defined businesses will dominate the business landscape of the future.
Businesses that integrate smart technologies such as cloud computing, identity management, AI, and others into their operations will make themselves agile and capable of innovating faster. This ability will make them able to roll out a wide selection of services and features at the click of a button without raising consumer prices.
Consumers, on the other hand, will favour such businesses over traditional ones because their feature-rich nature at affordable prices will be more attractive. This consumer-driven favouritism will give software-centric enterprises dominance over enterprises that fail to pivot and integrate software solutions into their core operations and service offerings.
Moreover, looking into the future, as cloud-based technologies mature, they’ll become cheaper, which will make moving services into the cloud more sensible from a business standpoint.
One of the most significant benefits of software-driven companies is that they make rendering services easy and intuitive. This ease-of-use is one of the main factors why software-centric businesses will dominate the business landscape of the future.
Take Amazon, for example. Although most of us know it as one of the biggest eCommerce retailers, Amazon operates in various other fields such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and digital services such as streaming.
The fact that Amazon has a footing in a wide selection of industries means that it can integrate and bundle some of its core services, thereby offering its consumers a seamless experience.
For instance, according to a report published by CBInsights, Amazon has been making strides to move into financial services by making strategic investments in the fintech industry, the aim of which is to offer their end-user integrated, easy-to-use, seamless services. Amazon’s entry into the Fintech industry promises to change financial services and give Amazon dominance in fields as diverse as lending, checking accounts, insurance, and others.
That cloud-based services are intuitively-designed and are therefore easy-to-use and adaptive to changing consumer needs is one of the primary factors that will give software-driven enterprises the juice they need to dominate their market spaces.
While non of us can predict what the future shall look like, every indicator is that in the next 10-15 years, businesses that become technology and software-centric by integrating software development into their core service offering will dominate entire industry segments. They’ll dominate the financial, hospitality, travel, and customer services sectors, to name but a few.
Businesses of all sizes, therefore, must open their eyes to the reality that to remain competitive in the marketplace of the future, they need to embrace and integrate software/technological advancements into their operations.