We know that software is eating the world — becoming a bigger and bigger component of products and services. Now, we are seeing the next steps. Software will eat your company in three steps — product, cloud, and ecosystem. Some of the world’s biggest and most interesting companies are currently at step 2 — linking products and data into a cloud of services.
Products and services contain more software every year. We’re all aware of this because it has been happening for 40 years. We might not be aware of how aggressively the trend is accelerating. Continuous delivery accelerates this trend. Software is not only faster, better, and cheaper in many current uses, but also improving faster than either hardware, or humans.
If you have a choice, you will keep your hardware the same, and make rapid revisions to the software. The same choice is likely to come up with human professions like driving and medical diagnosis. If you can replace a person with software, you have more ways to reliably improve performance.
The next step is to link products and data together into a cloud of services. For example, Apple likes selling you an iPhone and a Macbook, but they love the idea that you will be a customer for iTunes and iCloud and other Apple products and services long after those devices are trashed. The goal is to hold customers maximize customer lifetime value. They do it with cloud services. A device gets thrown away, but a cloud account is forever.
In the past they were organized into product silos, and now they want those product silos to work together on an integrated set of cloud services. The same thing is happening at Cisco, GE, GM, Ford, and many other product companies, right now.
To create unified cloud services, these companies need to put their discrete products into a shared test system. The first implementation step is often forcing these groups to use the same continuous integration infrastructure.Then, those discrete products can be used by the new unified services. I am seeing this pattern now.
You are linked in an ecosystem, and increasingly, you are linked by Web services. This is happening in banking, health care, software development, government, and Internet of Things. To link with your friends, customers, suppliers, and frenemies, you can use the same methods of testing and integration that are used to unite product silos in one company.
For an example of how this works, look at some testbeds from the Industrial Internet Consortium, which helps IOT devices work together. For an example of how it SHOULD work, consider the banking and finance system. It’s basically a big bag of Web services (computers that talk to each other), handling things like payments, trading, reconciliation, etc. That’s a ripe area for testbeds.
Originally published at andysingleton.com.