Being a software company is a whole different ball game than being a supplier of analogue things. For many leaders this is a scary thought. And for a good reason.
According to a recent study, far too few members of boards and leader groups have sufficient understanding of IT. Now, in today’s and tomorrow’s cloud-based IT world, you might not need to have the deepest insights in technology to make sure your company’s IT Operations is properly run. But, when software becomes a big chunk of your own products and services, then software will be your core business. This is something you will want to have deep insight into!
Let the nerds out
During my 30 years in and around the IT industry I have met a good deal of incredibly skilled and well-meaning nerds that truly want to change the world to the better for people. These guys are creative problem solvers, and even better: they know much more than you about what is going on with the emerging technologies that will change your business forever.
If you treat your developers like production machines, you're missing out big time.”
Unfortunately, there is a knowledge gap between many of the people who make the decisions and the people who actually understand technology and are able to make these decisions come alive through great products and services.
Of course, like with all professions, you have to be picky when it comes to expertise and personality. The type of tech savvy people you need are creative, open-minded, design thinking and business oriented. We call them creative technologists.
Since almost all products and services nowadays have a technology component, we at EGGS include the creative technologists in the early phases of the projects. Especially the innovation projects where we are developing future concepts (future bank services, future public services, future ships bridges, etc.). The creative technologists are key in the insight phase as well as the creative process. Their contribution with knowledge and insight in emerging technologies as well as their perspectives is invaluable to the cross-disciplinary process of any design driven innovation project.
You got to let them code, too
Developers love to make things work and programming is their craft. A craft they are incredibly proud of and extremely good at. Coding is a creative process too, and it takes a lot of concentration to create well functioning code. The programmers hold an entire universe of complexity in their brains while they are coding, so please – give them space and do not disturb. Maybe you saw the Facebook movie? In the movie, the Facebook team were especially attentive to this, and when programmers were “wired in”, no one disturbed them.
And they love to make beautiful code, too. Code that is carefully thought through and well structured. They call it poetry.”
God is in the details
Now why is it important for strategically thinking tech experts – creative technologists - to also do craft? Because God is in the details. And the deep understanding of what technology is actually able to do, is important in order to be able to work creatively with high-level problem solving at a more strategic level.
And by the way: You can tear up the old image of fat, unhealthy young soft-drink sipping, pizza-binging men enduring long nights of coding. Today’s creative technologists are typically health conscious, fit, and socially intelligent. And some of them are girls...
Get used to it!
Will we become a software company, you ask? A most definite yes! Just look at what is happening in most industries. If you think about it, Tesla is a large software company that just happens to develop their functionality through a car. The conservative car industry is following suit. Pure online services (aka software companies) like Uber, Spotify, AirBnb, etc. are challenging existing players and are gaining popularity across the world. Everybody and his cousin want an app!
If you already have nerds in your organization: congratulations! You should start making strategic use of them asap zulu. If not, start hiring. Or do like many large companies that do not have the power to re-invent themselves in two minutes: team up with start-ups to have them develop the digital services to add to yours.
Whatever your approach, get used to the idea of being a software company. And make proper use of your creative technologists. They are gold!