As part of any software development effort the age old challenge is to ensure a team working together to create software will meet the expectations of customers or users that will use it. A lot of attention is focused on working software – but what does that really mean.
Software on its own is intangible and is a little meaningless in value until used. It can’t be touched like other physical objects in the world. It can only be experienced through something that we use or connect with. Software for developers is like the very paint we use on our canvas. For most, the product we use and consume in our in our daily lives is that painted canvas (not the paint itself). For product manager’s software is a tool enabler. The tool is the product we make available to a market or set of users that solves a need or helps them perform a specific job. This is an important mindset to have when establishing new products or services using software that is easily overlooked – something Software Arkitex is embracing on its product journeys.
From the early days of civilisation, its well-documented man always looked to a tool at their disposal to help them achieve a specific type of job or task. Whether it was a sharp edged stone to cut at food, hand made reed basket to carry water for drinking or a simple bow and arrow to kill their next prey, man and his tool have undoubtedly been one of the most natural connections in human kind known today. Who would have ever thought that tools in a general sense would excel a human’s ability to where we are today?
This was best portrayed very elegantly by Steve Jobs in year of 1980, when he gave a 22-minute presentation on Apple. Apple at the time was on the brink of releasing the Apple II. This very rare footage above (courtesy of the Computer History Museum) shows Steve Jobs making reference to a 1970s Scientific America study (around 5:23 minutes of the video above) where they describe the efficiency of locomotion. In this article they ranked and compared a range of species on earth and measured the amount of energy each takes to travel between two points. Top of the list was a Condor (type of vulture specie) and two-thirds down the list was man itself. However someone was smart enough to show man with a bicycle was more efficient than the rest. Steve Jobs went on to add :“This shows man as a tool maker has the ability to make a tool to amplify human ability”. His message was clear; Apple is here to build tools to amplify the human ability. Something that the industrial revolution also did, but Steve Jobs believed it amplified ‘sweat’.
At Software Arkitex we are excited about the opportunities in building ‘tools’ that really make a difference. Software is our primer and we strongly believe that by understanding the role we really contribute to, makes it all that rewarding.
Lets fast forward to the tools we have today. Think of all the types of tasks or jobs you carry out in your daily lives and the tools used to help you achieve them. Whether you are driving a car or writing on a piece of paper with a pen there is a sure abundance of tools helping people excel in their daily lives. Majority of these tools are enabled by software – your computer, phone or calculator.
More than ever we are now moving into a new revolution (the internet of things) where most physical objects or tools will themselves be enabled or connected using software.
As tool makers and developers its import to not overplay on the engineering of software versus the use of it. Obviously software engineering elements are exciting itself but the use of it by others should be where our real excitement comes from. The important takeaway is that software itself needs to create value in the same way like most tools do today. It needs to strike that sense of being natural, convenient and almost pleasant to work with. For centuries, the need of man using a tool to perform a job has never gone away. Its only the tools have become a lot more progressive to meet the continued needs of man.