Since the invention of the abacus, technology has played a role in business. In contrast, as the complexity of technology expanded from beads to mainframes, the manner in which firms chose, install, and manage technology changed drastically.
Initially, IT departments arose, becoming a centralized force in charge of technologyness-making. They had an immense amount of authority, dictating which technologies everyone would employ regardless of their preferences.
With cloud computing and other technological advancements, the power balance has shifted. Now, the preferences of end users are a primary consideration in procurement, and although it may seem contradictory, it’s not the greatest technology that wins, but rather the best experience.
The change did not occur instantly, nor does it have a distinct beginning, middle, and end. It is a slow evolution occurring on several timescales for various purposes. However, the pattern remains the same: A new technological paradigm emerges with sufficient complexity to demand IT and engineering oversight. Then, competition emerges, complexity lessens, and control passes from tech specialists to tech-savvy individuals.
Take email. When it first became a necessity for businesses, it was solely the duty of IT. IT chose the software from the limited options available at the time, installed it on each computer, set up each email account, and verified the settings manually. When issues emerged, IT arrived to resolve them.
As email became a commodity, IT involvement decreased. The same principle applies to CRM systems and billing applications. IT is still involved, but the department that will use the program has greater influence.
In addition to shifting the position of IT from device gatekeeper to provider of cross-functional strategic advice, this shift in power is reshaping the whole business software industry.
For those of us who develop business solutions, our very conception of our product must shift. The French expression “course à l’échalote” loosely translates to “the race to the vanity.” In software, competing on the basis of features is a race to the bottom since commercialization diminishes the significance of each feature. At the end of the day, individuals will not seek out the best or most adaptable candidates. They will search for the minuscule factor that, for their purposes, elevates one solution above the others. Typically, that is what makes their lives easier. In other words, the focus is on experience.
Dropbox is an excellent example of a company that succeeded by providing a superior experience for performing a basic business task. At its inception, sharing huge files was a hassle. Dropbox simplified the process, and consumers appreciated it. This launched the company on the path of the product-led growth (PLG) virtuous circle, with product driving adoption, adoption driving usage, usage driving visibility, and visibility driving adoption.
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Now you may be considering, “Why does he mention Dropbox? That’s so last decade!” You are partially correct. Dropbox rose to popularity because it offered something its competitors did not: desktop integration. However, competition eventually caught up, and a new company entered the market with a product that made consumers’ lives even easier. That other party was Google, and that item was Drive.
Google went beyond resolving a single task-related problem with Drive. It solves the problem of connecting tasks by allowing users to generate files in the same software used for file sharing. People and businesses adored it. By the time Dropbox began to play catch-up, it was too late.
This does not imply that Google’s dominance is invulnerable. In the world of rapid product development, someone is always prepared to improve upon your breakthrough. In the case of Google, these rising competitors are companies such as Notion, a client of ours, which spotted the flaws in the company’s interconnected environment, which had been one of its initial assets.
Notion takes the opposite approach to connectedness, bringing the notions of centralized content creation and sharing to new heights with integration capabilities that Google lacked. People found it quite beneficial to be able to incorporate external information of various forms, including to-do lists, Miro boards, design prototypes, and films. In addition to documents and spreadsheets, they may now create a variety of other materials, like roadmaps, databases, and even Kanban. It altered their experience and simplified their lives. This contributed to Notion’s $10 billion value.
As the landscape for corporate technology acquisition and utilization continues to evolve, an entirely new category of solutions designed to enhance rather than replace enterprise technology stack components has arisen. Spendesk‘s virtual payment cards serve as an excellent illustration. Spendesk is one of our customers and positioned itself as an enabler rather than a competitor. It is not attempting to compete with regular credit cards and bank accounts for market share. Instead, it is enhancing them in a manner that simplifies the lives of the finance department and those who must report spending to them. Spendesk is a member of the Unicorn club as of January.
Developers must always keep in mind that the IT department, with its new, less controlling but more integral function in the organization, is susceptible to the allure of a simpler life. My organization was aware that software downloads were a burden for IT, so we developed a browser-based video engagement solution. Then, we considered what was most important to the consumers, and we concentrated on providing them with a better experience through promotion features, landing pages, and other integrations that need minimal effort.
With rising degrees of automation and integration and the emergence of the no-code development environment, it looks that engineering will be the next profession to experience a fundamental shift. Creating a solution that simplifies their life might easily be successful.