State of play: Software is everyware

January 2016

Man programming code on a computer monitorThe language of software development has seeped into the everyday business lexicon. Indeed organisations of all sorts, far beyond ‘pure’ IT, need to pay attention to software development. Brian Runciman MBCS reports.

The connected mobile workforce, the potential of analysing big data sets, agile development and many more phrases cover the range of what paying attention to your software development can mean. The very fact that a recent Gartner report was entitled ‘Gartner highlights 10 things CIOs need to know about agile development’ tells you the importance of software development at all levels of a twenty-first century organisation.

And in traditional IT too the scope is growing - for example, according to Ovum’s latest market size and forecast report on information management software, the big data software market will grow nearly six fold by 2019.

It could be asked whether at board level the implications of getting your software development right is taken seriously enough. Recent research from McKinsey’s on the performance of companies from across the world found that top executives at many companies fail to view software development as an area of strategic importance and potential competitive advantage. As the world becomes increasingly software driven, the authors rightly say that CEOs need to decide whether they have the right organisation to compete.

Allied with that consideration, according to IEEE Software, is the hidden strategic importance of release engineering. We are all used to buying and using apps - and are used to almost invisible upgrades and code bug fixes at the touch of a button. This means that release engineering’s strategic importance affects not only the software we build, but how we build it and how we can make money out of it.

The same publication looks at the implications for software development teams, especially as this is a field in which distributed development through virtual teams is a fact of life. The authors claim that ‘environments for supporting virtual software teams should place collaboration at the forefront… and address how to provide virtual software teams with a sufficient level of awareness for their work activities.’

Anecdotally, teams that adopt agile methods tend to be more effective and happier in their work. This is backed up by results from a recent study in the International Journal of Software Engineering & Its Applications, that showed that while agile working does not significantly affect work-related well-being, a team that applies agile practices as closely as possible experienced higher levels of enthusiasm during a software project.

The BCS State of Play report January 2016 points to resources covering the above and also such areas as:

  • why individuals would unethically reuse internet-accessible code;
  • whether a new software engineering approach is needed;
  • the need for software developers to take a component-based development approach in building applications;
  • using software diversification in multiple components of web applications to reconcile the tension between re-use and dependability;
  • value based software engineering and its impact on software re-usability and quality.

The full BCS State of Play report ‘Software development, current approaches and more’ is available free to members in the BCS secure area (login required).

Image: iStock/488555846

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