Every company is a software company---or at least aspiring to be one. That reality will shake up industries, lead to huge successes and failures and potentially make or break brands.
That's the gist of a Forrester Research report that argues that corporate software assets will be more valuable to the business than financials. Software will be the great enabler for financial gains and brand growth.
This argument isn't necessarily new. Vinnie Mirchandani has chronicled how most of the technology innovation is happening at non-tech companies. Gartner has argued that every part of business will be software defined.
Indeed, Ford and its Sync app ecosystem is turning the car cockpit into a tech center. Ford is a software company too. General Electric is clearly a software company as applications enable everything from appliances to wind turbines. Retailers can get an edge via software. Every hardware company needs software. Simply put, whether it's custom software or off the shelf with tweaks, applications will make or break brands.
Forrester analyst John McCarthy makes the following points in a research note:
- Software will differentiate brands.
- Tech management will need to think like a software maker.
- These software development groups will probably operate outside of the traditional information technology department.
- Software will engage customers, extend value and empower employees.
- Machine-to-machine connections will revamp industries.
- Customer expectations are increasing due to mobile applications.
- User interfaces will be critical.
- IT departments, processes and architectures will have to be reworked.
I don't doubt that every company will revolve around software and mobile as a way to engage companies. For instance, I feel better about Bank of America today because I largely deal with the too-big-to-fail institution through a mobile app or Web site. If I call the bank and go through that dopey phone tree all the angst from me comes rushing back. In other words, Bank of America has used technology to look less worse to me. How's that for return on investment?
According to McCarthy this software revolution in every company will be similar to how enterprise resource planning changed the game for businesses and their processes.
McCarthy focuses on the good outcomes. Software can make a brand unmistakable, remarkable and bolster customer experiences.
Don't be surprised if vendors also talk about all the good stuff. Salesforce1 and CEO Marc Benioff's core pitch is that his company can extend brands to the Internet of things and embed them into customers' lives. SAP, Oracle and every other software vendor will have a similar argument.
Here's the issue though. Not every company is going to be a software company and many of them will fail to extend brands. Some companies will actually hurt their brands. Many companies won't be able to digitize their brands, manage big data or be agile to respond to customer feedback in real time.
And that's where things get interesting. McCarthy said that traditional companies will acquire software companies as they look for in-house expertise. Monsanto bought The Climate Corp for weather analytics and Under Armour bought MapMyFitness. These moves will be replicated repeatedly.
The ability to use software will revamp industries and create new leaders. The disruption should be fun to watch.