Software has eaten the world

Back in 2011, in his now infamous Wall Street Journal article, Marc Andreessen claimed that “Software was eating the world”.

The claim that “every company is becoming a software company”, quoted countless times in the intervening years, appears to have fallen on deaf ears in a number of industries. 2017 may be the year to finally face the facts; software has eaten the world.

In November 2017 the 17-year-old online-only fashion retailer ASOS overtook veteran retailer M&S in terms of market value.  Zoe Martin, writing in The Guardian, refers to this as the “UK high street’s Tesla moment” – a nod to Tesla usurping Ford as the US’s most valuable car manufacturer earlier this year.

Digital disruption isn’t a new concept. Since the perfect technological storm of 2008, we have seen a meteoric rise of digital-first companies – the so called ‘unicorns’. The likes of Etsy, Twitter, AirBnB and Facebook have been disrupting markets for well over a decade!

The most significant shift of 2017 wasn’t this leap-frogging of company valuations, but the fact that Amazon have now thoroughly entwined the online and offline worlds.  Companies no longer need to compete with digital-first upstarts competing on a like-for-like basis. The game has changed.

In his talk at DOES 2017, Matthew Tisson spoke about how Amazon had brought Prime Now to the market.  This home delivery service allows users to order groceries and have them delivered to their homes within two hours (for free).  For those real grocery emergencies, you can have your delivery within an hour!

The significance of this isn’t just the technical and logistical hurdles Amazon have overcome to be able to offer this service.  Even more significant is the impact that this will have on consumer habits. Amazon have raised the bar of customer expectations across the board. It is worth noting that ASOS have been trialling same day delivery.

If I can have my groceries delivered in under an hour, I don’t expect to have to go into a branch to open a bank account. I also expect my insurance claim to be paid within two hours and, it goes without saying, running out of coffee is no longer an issue!

To compete in this climate of digital disruption many organisations are turning to DevOps to counter the rise of the unicorns.  With a focus maximising an organisations ability to get value into the hands of their customers, DevOps is the means by which established companies can begin to move at exceptional speed.

In order to compete in this new world, companies need to start re-examining the art of the possible now.  If they don’t, the ‘unicorns’ will!

In my next blog, Slay the Monolith, I take a look at the extraordinary feats that have been achieved by the so-called DevOps Unicorns and how during most conversations around this at DOES17 one key fact reoccurred: DevOps is still about much more than just automation.

Written by Ed Pearson (@edwardpearsonwho is a DevOps Delivery Manager at DevOpsGuys and works closely with our enterprise clients working on digital transformations.

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