I’m bullish on software — specifically design and engineering — and I’m starting to see that many of today’s business leaders share that opinion as they come to terms with digital disruption and the age of the customer’s impact on their competitive strategies. I hear this often as I travel to meet with both business and IT leaders, and I increasingly see it in the survey data we annually collect. What do I see in our most recent Forrsights Business Decision-Makers Survey, Q4 2012 and Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 2012 results? Software, from design through development, matters:

  • Business leaders have revenue growth first and foremost on their minds. On average, 70% of these business leaders place a high or critical priority on revenue growthcustomer acquisition and retention, and addressing rising customer experience expectations for 2013. Our data suggests business leaders are 50% more likely to identify these as critical initiatives than they do margin improvement or reducing operating costs. Growth and customer experience improvement take business priority.
  • Sales and customer service stakeholders set more of today’s enterprise software agendas. Business leader focus on growth has shifted today’s software portfolio strategies and investments. Over 40% of software and application delivery decision-makers listed their sales stakeholders, including eBusiness, as the primary drivers of their firms’ software strategy and investments. Corporate services functions, including the CFO and HR, continue to drive software strategies for 36%, but now no more so than business leaders of customer service.
  • Software development and staff are on the rise. Our research continues to show that delivering the solutions needed by these business leaders, and expected by customers, demands new software skills. We’ve highlighted to enterprise decision-makers over the past year how they should take advantage of the open Web, why software fuels experiences, the best way to build mobile apps, and to believe software is their business. Packaged apps and tools alone can’t deliver customer engagement, and that mobile application isn’t just an app, it is an extension of the company and its brand. The demand for engagement and differentiation, I believe, drives the growth our Forrsights data shows in both custom software development and software staff. Over 20% of respondents stated their custom software development spend will increase more than 10% this year, and 32% stated their software staff will grow by 5% or more.  

Many of tomorrow’s industry leaders are, today, bullish on software. Their software embodies business strategies and helps them participate in an economy fueled by global and digital technology. They use their software to turn big data into unique and actionable insight. They create software to deliver engagement. They’ll never have sufficient resources to address insatiable business demand, but they will have a competency in software — namely design and engineering — that drives an ecosystem of resources delivering business impact.

If you are a technology vendor, you need to be bullish, and tomorrow’s business leaders expect you to. Acknowledge shortcomings, and highlight where your clients need to build and extend to deliver engagement and insight. Work arm in arm with your clients to design and deliver solutions, don’t make your clients solely dependent on your staff and your solutions, help them become self-sufficient and reliant on design and architecture decisions. And stop insisting to business leaders, such as the CFO, that software development is simply a commodity. Tomorrow’s tech industry leaders will be those that can help their customers put this competency in place. Get bullish on software.