Commentary: Smart companies should make software a core force and provide their developers with paved paths. Matt Asay gives more details.
It has become such a commonplace to declare, as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that “every company is a software companyThat it’s easy to forget software, while essential, isn’t the only thing most businesses will do. Or as an analyst Benedict Evans has written about Netflix: “The technology has to be good, but it’s still about the TV.”
Tech as crowbar
Netflix has seen its stock price plunge 75% from its all-time high just a few months ago. It lost subscribers for the first time in 10 years: 200,000 of them. Smarter people than me will come up with reasons, but here’s mine: It’s been a long time since there’s been anything on Netflix that I wanted to watch (the new season of “Stranger Things” is a big exception to that rule). Now that NBC Universal, Disney, Apple and others have launched their own streaming services, they have pulled content from Netflix. What’s left, at least for me, and apparently for others, just isn’t worth the higher subscription price Netflix charges.
Which, according to Evans, is all about TV, not technology.
SEE: 10 Ways to Avoid Developer Burnout (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Reflecting on Netflix’s challenges, Evans continued, “All the questions that matter are TV industry questions. How many shows, in what genres, at what level of quality? … These aren’t Silicon Valley questions — they’re questions about LA and New York.”
This doesn’t mean technology doesn’t matter. It does, but it’s the ante to compete for TV subscribers. This brings us to your business.
Developers, developers, developers
What applies to Netflix probably applies to your business too: if you’re not already a software company, you should become one. Or rather, software should become a core force rather than a failure.
That’s the only way to fend off the crowbars of Netflix-like companies hoping to compete in your market. This means, as I’ve argued before, that every company needs to find out how to hire, retain and enable developers†
Smart companies are figuring out how to provide their developers with paved paths. Just like Netflix they are create self-service development platforms leveraging Kubernetes and other technologies to provide freedom through crash barriers, giving developers the space to innovate on their behalf. And if there is a shortage of developers (which is increasingly the case for everyone, given the demand), they are turn to low-code platforms to effectively engage employees outside of IT to contribute to development.
Those developers aren’t necessarily going to turn a bank or retailer into a software company, but they can make sure that software doesn’t become a reason for customers to go elsewhere.
Disclosure: I work for MongoDB, but the views expressed herein are mine.