Tuesday, May 15, 2007

SaaS, Innovation and Software Development

Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff was interviewed recently by Information Week, during the Software 2007 conference in Santa Clara. Benioff mentioned that there's "more innovation now then in the last 10 years." That's an interesting comment, more so because innovation seems more subtle today then in the past. What I mean by that is that there were fewer innovations ten years ago, but they were much more dramatic in terms of their impact on our lives. Innovations like browsers, broadband, even Saas (which arguably wasn't new, i.e., time sharing), had a huge impact as they fundamentally changed so much in our personal and professional lives.

So, while much of the innovation then was infrastructural, today we have n times more innovations, in terms of sheer numbers, but they are more subtle and have less "bang" then those in the past. And as this blog relates to software development management, I think this is no more evident that in the software industry. For years, software development has innovated at the infrastructure level; programming languages, faster compilers, better IDEs, new methodologies like Agile (arguably a updated version of RAD). Yet, software development continues to be plagued with cost and schedule overruns, poor quality, and security flaws that seem never ending.

So, I'm wondering how folks feel about this issue. Why isn't the software community that is driving so much of today's innovation, readily embracing innovation ourselves. Why is it that we can't better manage our own process, yet keep innovating for others to better manage their processes, be it sales, marketing, finance, you name it. I'm always amazed when I see folks who call themselves "professional software developers" still relying on Word docs, spreadsheets, and e-mail to manage their dev process. Isn't it time that we began eating our own dogfood, stepped up and embraced better visibility, accountability, and predictability. I mean if we can't even do the basics, like trace tasks from requirements through test cases to defect to source code, how are we supposed to improve the perception of software in the marketplace. Isn't that what software development management is all about.

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