Technology has eroded boundaries, whether these are regional boundaries or the boundaries of clearly defined verticals as we once knew them. The internet makes it much easier for companies to enter new geographical regions. The evolution of smartphones and tablets has had a great impact on our expectations of technology, as they are the devices connecting us to an endless array of possibilities, from home automation to payment transactions. So what are the important change-agents that software product companies need to watch? Where do they need to look to see the new trends in the consumption of software? And how quickly do users expect changes in the future?
There has been a major change in the way technology is funded, and this change is made possible by technology, bringing crowds together that would otherwise not meet. Now you can get funding through new channels and bypass traditional ones, such as venture capital, angel investing and bank loans. This is interesting as you can bring a technology product to the market at lower costs using a different development model and in a more rapid time to market. And crowdfunding has the added benefit that it already gives insight into the market adaptation of the idea.
Kickstarter is one of those platforms, a famous community that funds promising projects that exceed project-specific funding requirements. Project creators are offering prizes for various levels of support and individuals or groups help make the project a reality. This way an entrepreneur can sell an idea before it becomes a reality, bypassing traditional models. Through crowdfunding, new initiatives can quickly enter the market.
Now that 3D printing is available to the masses, the speed of innovation increases. Making a real object from a 3D virtual representation on your computer is now easier than ever.
And the good part is that you don’t even have to buy all this new equipment to make your thoughts reality. You can now order an object 3D print via the Internet and have it delivered via mail, or you can join a collaborative environment called makerspace, where you can use the shared infrastructure such as 3D printers, mills, cutting machines and also the knowledge of others. The lean methodology, which consists of reducing the time to market for new projects, simplifying their purpose and implementation also enables technologists to release new stuff cheaper and faster. We are learning how to bring new developments to the market without huge budgets and long timelines.
The Internet of Things sets our expectations that software should easily be connected to any device we want. You can control your central heating and lighting at home from your phone, or connect your online accessibility easily to an interactive dashboard in your car. Even simple things such as cups are being reinvented to provide us the information we would not have known a few years ago. A cup called Vessyl, measures the calories you drink and more than that. Another connected device is Tintag, a rechargeable smart tag you can attach to your valuables and track via your smartphone. The adoption of these types of trends will allow us to capture more information from our world, transform it into knowledge and make the devices we are interacting with day by day smarter and better tailored to our needs. And such technologies could be applied for business use as well.
Dash and dot are crowdfunded programmable toys and are a success. There is a strong trend to bring programming to a much wider audience. Programming is a mentally challenging activity that requires a lot of study and preparation and is generally very difficult. Recent developments make programming more accessible. More people will be able to program and make the things around us smarter, and many of us will be able to customize the behavior of the objects around us. Another example of programming for a wider audience is TWINE. The simple beauty of Twine is this: if you can type words and occasionally put brackets around some of those words, you can make a Twine game. It is the transformation of video games into something that is not only consumed by the masses but also created by them.
These four trends are change agents which will speed up the way we consume software in the future. Technology has enabled us, but also forces us to shift into sixth gear. Not every one of us can foresee how these agents will impact our business software for the future. Yet software product companies need to be prepared that the speed in which change occurs will increase. Technology has opened that door and brought our expectations to the next level. So agility and scalability of both product and company are becoming a prerequisite. Software product companies do not want to end up using outdated techniques, or, even worse, end up perfecting an outdated technique.