The internet and the software running over it has redefined our global borders, especially from a business standpoint. Globalization gets a new meaning when we talk about internet businesses. All of a sudden the entire world opens up as a potential customer, competitor or employer.
However, as powerful as it may be (and it is more powerful than we can imagine), it is just a tool that we control.
You need a piece of information, you search for it. You want to see a movie, you stream it. You want to see your loved ones thousands of miles away, you Skype them, and the list can go on.
For people not working in this industry, I could say it is forgiving to oversee the details and just enjoy its benefits/products. However, if you are a student in Computer Science or on any other track that might get you to work in this wonderful industry, try to dedicate some time to really understand how this “world” works, don’t just make assumptions from what you hear your friends talking or others around you.
After all, this is the industry you plan to work in for practically half of your life, I believe it deserves thorough research, don’t you?
The Software Viewport
What is software? Well, some might say it is just a bunch of lines of code written by geniuses, after all, only they can understand all that code that looks like complete gibberish, right? How could any normal being be able to write such stuff, it’s too hard one might say.
Well, I have a simple argument against this. Learning to code is just like learning to talk when you’re a toddler. Everything you hear is gibberish sounds at the beginning, but with time, practice and small (and compounding) steps you end up speaking your native language fluently.
It’s the same with an engineer that you think is a genius, he is not. He just learned something new every day, practised, made mistakes and improved along the way. All those years of practice in the end are the ones that gave him the fluency you notice, he wasn’t born with it.
Now that, we debunked that myth, let’s do the same with another one, my favourite one. A software business is made only of developers.
I’ve seen so many people falsely believing this and saying they have no place in such kind of business/industry, sadly enough, even computer science students that were less fluent in their coding skills.
The most successful companies I’ve known have at most 50% of their employees working as developers, while the rest of employees work on other core components of the business, like marketing, support, sales, recruiting, finance and so on.
The code developers write is the main product used by the customers, indeed, but it takes a village to properly design, test, package, support, market and sell it, it is NEVER enough to just write it. (with some exceptions – freelancing/consulting…)
The Business Viewport
Now since we made it clear that a software business is not just a developers heard, let’s dive more and see how valuable are other employees from this little village.
Now for some users, Basecamp’s app isn’t a revolutionary solution, although it is a great resource for the team using it. Because there are tons of similar alternatives the app itself does not stand out that much, technically speaking.
However, when you combine the app with Basecamp’s support offering (notice the average response time from the above screenshot) you get a business that is 10x more valuable, appreciated by customers and with a viral growth that only free social apps can beat. Hmmm, saying that makes me wonder how viral would they be if their service would also be free?
Let’s try a different example. Let’s take a closer look at Microsoft, I wonder, is it just the “great software” they build that makes the business run so well or maybe there are other departments that support those great developers in putting that software in any house/business around the world?
The sales organization from Microsoft is invisible for most of us, from a consumer standpoint. However, without this team Microsoft wouldn’t exist, no matter how good their software can be. The same stands for all the great software businesses you know.
That chart above shows the real power of the entire village, not just the development’s team from Microsoft. That chart is the intersection of combined teamwork from development, marketing, support, sales, and many others. Remember, most of the time these members of the team represent more than 50% of the total number of employees from a software company.
Back to Romania
Even though we don’t have a Microsoft-like company yet in Romania, we have successful examples in our little country too, be it the old experienced Bitdefender or the new kid on the block, UiPath. They started like small development shops but grew into adult companies, where the entire village keeps the wheel spinning.
Widen your world, take a closer look at this industry, don’t rely just on what you heard from your friends, research and make an educated choice, don’t just be sheep following the heard without asking which way is better.
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