Technology has experienced a change in value over the past years. On its own it is no longer enough to differentiate among competitors, instead it should be seen as support to customer-centric value creation.
Within private or business context apps have become helpful companions that enable people to conveniently solve their daily often repetitive tasks. Quickly scheduling meetings with colleagues, booking a taxi via app or scrolling through the latest fashion or shopping needs on the way home are typical activities. Whether apps run on desktop, mobile, native app, progressive web app or just like a website, they all have progressed into a digital ecosystem that empowers people to fulfill their duties.
But while this is truer than ever, the sheer value of technology and in this case software has fundamentally altered over the course of the past years. It used to be a clear differentiator to have the capability to build your own app or webshop when the internet was in its second wave of land grabbing and the iPhone (a decade ago!) shaped the perception of mobile internet. Now, it is nothing more than a piece of the puzzle that accounts towards a holistic digital approach.
Customer centricity is the keyword that plays a major role in creating great customer experiences and by doing so, generating the winning argument within a highly competitive field. Digital value creation is no longer pinned at certain features or products but the way these are built - from concept to execution customer-centric. Hence, businesses have to reconsider what their core value-creating assets and activities will be in the future.
What started initially as a small streak on the horizon of the cloud hosting movement and the servitization of enterprise IT (think AWS, IBM, Google, Azure) progressed into the development of software products to solve business topics fast and efficiently. Whereas companies in the past allocated fundamental resources to develop their own CRM or CMS and proudly designed spreadsheets to track and manage business processes, a continuous evolution of SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) products is changing the landscape.
Driven by a azor-sharp focus on best usability, efficiency and a fast-paced environment, specialists with software products have risen to support companies to create value for customers and their organizational processes - not reinventing the wheel first.
By offering solutions solving specific needs for businesses and at the same time taking previous industry and process learnings into account, advanced applications are created. Offering fast access to such solutions and ensuring scalability, cost-efficient maintenance, and continuous product development, these services clearly win over the proprietary in-house development. Of course one could think that specifically tailored solutions could support even greater value-creation in the organization or at least exclude competitors from having the same access to such technology.
But from our learning the sheer speed of change and need for experimentation, paired with the complexity of advanced technology makes the utilization of best practice SaaS solutions worth a try.
Thus, the approach from startups and corporates alike, often supported by major consultancies and agencies, has shifted. Whereas controlling all software components in-house was seen as a strategic advantage in the past, agility, time-to-market (read: speed!) and best customer centricity are today the key characteristic to foster a competitive, but continuously evolving factor of strategic importance.
Winning and maintaining a customer within a fast-paced business environment requires fundamental customer insights, the skills to orchestrate internal and external resources and act on upcoming user expectations with fast and deterministic moves.
Having understood these trends, it becomes pretty obvious why APIs and SDKs for software components have seen a major gain in usage over the last two years and that the interconnectedness and decentralization of software architectures have their means to stay.
Especially with major players like the GAFAs (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) providing the tools for the next development stage (think: machine learning, neural networks, and natural language processing with intent recognition) the commoditization of software will continue, while the need for customer centricity will further strengthen.