Once upon a time, back in the pre-cloud days, software was something to just buy off the shelf. Written for a relatively narrow purpose, updated infrequently, and bulk-manufactured by some distant corporation, software was considered helpful but not necessarily essential and hardly profitable. Today, we know otherwise.
Software is the vehicle that drives the business. Good software enables a company to move with speed and agility to meet customer demands while at the same time providing operational stability, security, and compliance. Well-written software gives companies a smooth ride to value generation. Or as we might say at Schuberg Philis, the cleaner the code, the easier the road.
We’ve seen how when IT takes business as its starting point, value generation accelerates. Yet, many companies don’t have the staff, time, or resources to create their own software solutions even when deployed to the cloud. In that case, they must entrust an IT partner to develop and manage the software in relation to the cloud strategy. So with the destination of value generation in sight, what kind of approach should the right partner take?
Development that asks why
Like never before, companies can scale up, expand operations, experiment, and adapt to swiftly evolving standards and regulations thanks to the cloud. But exploiting these possibilities requires software that is dynamic and daring enough to carry a company upwards in its cloud journey as well as stable and secure enough to meet demands on the ground. To really drive business, software should be created asking why it’s being developed in the first place. A trusted IT partner keeps its customer’s greater value goals in view, rather than getting bogged down in the what of the technology. Think of Vermeer’s use of ultramarine, celebrated because it so effectively depicts the luminosity of daylight, not because it’s a precious pigment from lapis lazuli.
Historically, IT and business led separate lives. A company’s tech specialists was primarily in a supporting role, often doling out laptops and quelling staff when the website went down. Finally, they’re seen as essential workers because IT is part and parcel of the essential business. But Schuberg Philis has always treated IT and business as equally important. It’s why we listen to decision-makers, hearing all about their visions, and then hold additional conversations to ensure that what they want is what their companies need to fulfill their missions.
This became painfully obvious in 2020, when the pandemic shuttered brick-and-mortar businesses everywhere. Restaurants, for one, became so dependent on IT companies to help them expand online ads, find customers, fulfill orders, and handle electronic payments. Most enterprises share this experience: without putting IT front and center they can’t fulfill their principal vocation. That’s why CIOs are no longer fetching the coffee during board meetings, but are involved with daily operations and business development.
The fit-for-purpose advantage
In this same spirit, an IT partner should apply the Goldilocks principle not only in terms of streamlining software, but in making the entire software development fit the organization just right. We’ve seen how companies have started to understand that when they seek to retain a competitive advantage in their industry, having fit-for-purpose software can make the difference.
Relying solely on third-party software by default excludes agility because the ability to make changes is limited by what its provider allows. Big software manufacturers have their own agendas and might not be able to fulfill a customer’s specific needs. In 2012, when Schuberg Philis started developing bespoke software in house, we kick-started a cloud transformation for many of our customers. Our custom-built solutions were ideal for companies that were ambitious yet wanted to stay flexible. But years before, we were already combining bespoke software with off-the-shelf products expressly so customers could run their businesses with both precision and predictability.
A case in point is our history with highly regulated markets. Financial institutions need software that isn’t only performant and functional, but also meets auditing and compliance requirements. For example, normally trivial calculation features, such as rounding, become challenging when governed by the strict rules of auditing. Software should therefore be designed to the highest standards to meet a bank’s duty to protect customer assets. We’re tremendously experienced at writing software for these markets. We’re also sensitive to the fact that institutions operating in them don’t hand over the keys to anyone. For the security and reliability of their organization, they need to know exactly who’s in the driver’s seat.
A sleep-easy cloud strategy
Value-generating fit-for-purpose software makes a company’s daily operations easier. And easier waking hours lead to a good night’s sleep, a long-held virtue at Schuberg Philis. Whether at the end of a workday or during global crisis-level interruptions to regular programming, our customers can rest easy knowing we are guiding them to get the most out of their cloud strategy.
In traditional IT, maintaining bespoke software is expensive because it needs to run on operating systems, which need servers, which need datacenter hosting—all of which need maintenance, patching, power, and/or cooling. But in the cloud era, running software is far less complicated because it’s a matter of uploading code to a provider, which in turn takes care of all those other details. Still, while cloud vendors offer services that make hosting bespoke software look effortless, the hard part is running it reliably 24/7. Costs continue to incur, mainly in development, and infrastructure and security tend to get neglected. As a result, the software isn’t ready for use and a lot of effort and money are wasted along the way. Powering mission-critical processes for the last two decades, we know what it takes to keep organizations safe and to weather the storms of ever-changing technologies, security threats, laws, and regulations.
Finally, we cultivate calm in the cloud by writing code that’s straightforward to understand, maintain, and modify. As we’ve noted before, freedom comes through embracing generic components that, much like LEGO bricks, can be inexpensively connected, swapped, and replaced. On the topic of bricks, and invoking another favorite children’s story, our software simply won’t let the house blow down. Like the little pig that chose wolf-resistant construction material, we build our IT to last—and last well. Applying tech expertise to companies’ business priorities, we can’t help but develop software that drives value up and in as well as delivers customers to better destinations.