In any industry the adoption of a tool depends on several factors. While some of them are related to sociological aspects (diffusion of innovation), others are down to a simple cost-benefit analysis by the intended user of the software.
In his seminal book, Diffusion of Innovations, Everett M. Rogers lists three categories for the consequences of adopting new innovations: desirable vs. undesirable, direct vs. indirect, and anticipated vs. unanticipated.
Companies consider those consequences when adopting innovations, but they are also interested in the economic impact of those innovations. Two terms usually dominate the discussion before adopting new tools: Return On Investment (ROI), and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and they are directly related: to calculate the ROI is important to first calculate the TCO.
Innovation and Software
Adopting an innovation, be it a new tool or process, in any environment will cause an impact. Part of that impact can be evaluated before the adoption, and part of it will be unexpected. Companies with mature processes will go to great lengths to make sure that the innovation fits in their existing work environment before adopting it. They will adapt the innovation so the perceived friction of using it is lower. Other companies will go the opposite way. They recognize the upfront value the innovation brings to their business, and are willing to adapt themselves to integrate such innovation. Both approaches are not without risks, both approaches will have a socio-economic impact in their companies. Economically, companies depend on outdoing their competitors, and ultimately, the expected outcome of innovations is to help companies to produce better, faster and cheaper products. As well, the social interactions within the company may change because of the innovation. Innovations bring changes to the company culture, and resistance can be found.
As Marc Andreessen puts it: “Software is eating the world”, little by little every product, service, or process can be done more efficiently through software. The impact of software, and the internet, has allowed for things which were unimaginable not so long ago. Industries are using spreadsheets, e-mail to work more efficiently. As well, new services have been streamlined with the use of software, making them more convenient and cheaper. According to Bruce Perens: “ Today, we need software to do business! Indeed, we need it so badly that even though most businesses don’t sell software, any business of 50 people or greater is likely to employ a programmer, web designer, or a script-programming systems administrator . For those businesses, software is essential enabling technology, rather than their product.” from Bruce Perens, The Emerging Economic Paradigm of Open Source Software
The software industry, obviously not existing before the creation of computers, has also been transformed by software itself. In the beginning, computers’ circuits needed to be manually switched on and off by operators, and programs fed almost by hand to the computer. Now, software can even create new software by itself, and, importantly for U-Qasar, software can test software, reducing the human taskforce in charge of that, but increasing the workload of QA and product managers that need to make sense of the data and take decisions to make better, faster, and cheaper software. Our on-going series on SaaS tools describe tools that have taken over software development, and partly eaten “human” software development tasks.