Sunday, June 8, 2008

The how, not the what

In terms of software and the application, or use, of that work, I'd have to say that software is the "what", not the "how", in terms of being competitive. In terms of thinking big and raising the bar, the "what" is the commodity, how that "what" is used, applied, or implemented, differentiates. Based on this, personally, I think software itself is not a differentiator for a company or a community of users. How that software is used to solve a problem, or to streamline a process is the differentiator.

Based on this, why can't most software or all software be developed in an open, or community based environment? Where sharing and collaboration are the key for that particular "what". Then based on each company's, or user's, specific implementation or application, is that "how". By doing so, the consumers of the software are effectively on the same level of delivering service to their clients or themselves given the functionality of the software. These consumers are now focused on strengthening their core, being their business objectives or primary goal for achievement. They are no longer focused on competing at a software level, the "what". They are delivering their "how" through the "what" as a mechanism.

First a simple example, web server software. This software prepares content to be deliver to a client through a web resource. What organization thinks they are competitive because of the web server software they use? I'd hope none, as it's the content they serve through this software that potentially sets them apart.

I know, there are certain aspects that make one web server software package better then the other. But these are not competitive goals. If your core bottom line is down, it is not because of the web software you are using.

I realize there are more complex scenarios, but the basics almost always cover 80%. My point is, don't develop software and keep it captive thinking it will give you a competitive edge. How you apply that software and the data you put through it, the "how", is what will set you apart and make you rich, famous, or whatever.

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