Like a kid on Christmas Eve, these are exciting times for independent software vendors (ISVs). Cloud computing and the ubiquitous nature of network access these days mean that more companies are relying on technology as a central driver of its business processes.
Certain industry niches seem saturated with “as a service” platform offerings, mobile apps and devices powered by Internet of Things (IoT) technology. However, ample room remains for ISVs to incorporate innovative solutions into their product offerings.
But also like that kid, the excitement can be tinged with trepidation. Will Santa bring me the exact toy that I wanted, or will it be a cheap knockoff? What if he doesn’t come at all since my behavior hasn’t been exemplary?
Many ISVs have been in their industries for years, with mature product offerings that are best-suited to server environments and not the cloud. Even when designed with great deliberation, APIs and other linkages only work so well for so long. In many cases, ISVs that want to succeed in a cloud- and mobile-based world must totally rebuild their offerings from scratch while still maintaining current offerings. A challenge such as this can stretch available resources to the breaking point.
Independent software vendors looking to grow and prosper in the emerging technology landscape should be closely monitoring their performance in the following five areas.
Standing pat on an existing product these days is the same as going backwards. The cloud, mobile, IoT and other emerging platforms demand increasing amounts of attention, which may leave ISVs struggling to keep up with equally important, but competing, demands. New product development. Enhancements to existing products. Finding new uses for existing product. Migrating to new platforms.
ISVs should keep a firm focus on their core competencies and the overall direction of the company and their products. Only after those areas are adequately addressed should a company set priorities and get cracking. And if there are more priorities than there is time in the day and manpower to get the work done, seek qualified help.
Innovation and creating new solutions are the sexy, exciting parts of being an ISV, but you cannot forget the products that have brought your company to where it is. Sustaining the products that feed your bottom line is a crucial, ongoing task that many ISVs ignore in the rush to capitalize on the Next Big Thing. If you want to keep your internal teams focused on product innovation, consider outsourcing the change, migration and maintenance of your existing products, which is known as sustenance engineering.
This is another area where ISVs may try to cut corners. But there are no shortcuts to mobile apps or software platforms that are not only easy on the eye and the fingers but that also protect company information and work in a highly efficient manner. With the continued proliferation of devices, screen sizes and operating systems, this is an area where ISVs may not have the particular expertise to perform adequate testing and validation. By bringing in a partner that has the tools, processes and expertise to ensure that your software meets all functional requirements and user demands, your staff can spend more time on developing great software.
Most ISVs are under increasing pressure to modernize legacy applications, instead of continuing to write patches. But that work also competes with developing next-generation products that may have wide sales appeal. Migration and porting services can help keep your software up to date with minimal risk and downtime.
Well-written software is worth replicating—if you know how. It involves more than merely copying existing code and pasting it elsewhere. Value engineering is a complex dynamic involving equal parts expertise in engineering, marketing, and consumer psychology. Properly done, value engineering can help you maximize product value by enhancing functionality, capabilities and quality while optimizing cost.
Following these steps will help the future of your ISV be merry and bright. Otherwise, you might find a Blackberry smartphone or a Zune media player under your Christmas tree—and no one wants that.