The team and I have been testing a hypothesis for the past year while meeting with business and IT leaders in large enterprises, agencies, and smaller firms, and I'd like your input. My working hypothesis is this:


In this age of digital disruption and a society empowered by software-fueled technology, firms that can cultivate competencies in software development and delivery will establish competitive advantage, as they will be better equipped to meet and exceed the engagement and experience needs of their customers, employees, and constituencies.


Why competencies in software development and delivery? First look at today's digital disruption, which as Forrester Analyst James McQuivey notes, is more swift and deadly than prior disruptive forces. It's faster, it turns historical assets – e.g., supply chain strengths – into liabilities, and it can come from anywhere. Second, look more closely at today's digital disruptors. What makes them different? James' research points out that they:

  1. Harness the power of digitally empowered consumers…basically, they tap into the empowered society.
  2. Generate more ideas, faster, by focusing on the customer and "what's next," taking a very outside-in approach to their business.
  3. Deliver total experiences by employing digital technology, fueled by software, to redefine products and services.


Digital disruptors aren't just startups or new social and entertainment firms. You can find them across industries. While they cultivate many competencies, one seems to stand out – they view software development and delivery differently than the industry at large. They view specific aspects – e.g., design, architecture, algorithm/analytics development, and engineering – as core, something they cannot persist without, part of their product DNA, and essential to how they engage with their customers.


Our research shows that not all aspects of software development and delivery are core or essential, but many leaders are calling into question the blanket assertions that development is a commodity. Those questions introduce big changes for what you might do internally and how you work with partners.  


With the above in mind, I ask you contribute to our community discussion considering the following questions: 

  1. How does your firm, your executive leadership, view software development and delivery? Do they view it as providing competitive advantage?
  2. What's keeping your leadership from viewing software development and delivery as a competency?
  3. What actions, if any, have your firm and its leadership taken to cultivate new software development and delivery competencies?
  4. What aspects of software development and delivery do you view as core or essential to your firm? By extension, what's commodity?


Join us this October in London and Orlando to discuss and share in person with analysts and your peers.