What Does Digital Transformation Mean for the Software Industry?

Digital transformation is happening in every business in every industry, from agriculture to retail to manufacturing. While that means that there are new opportunities, there are also many challenges to be faced. Less technologically mature organisations are often left in the wake of new tech-savvy companies as new business models and revenue sources arise and change how businesses operate and deliver customer value. While the software industry is very much the enabler of that change, it isn’t immune to the impact of digital transformation. The fact is that, just like every other industry, the software development industry is having to adapt, put customer needs first and constantly evolve to incorporate new tools and technologies. 

What Does Digital Transformation Look Like in the Software Industry?

Of course, digital transformation within the software industry doesn’t look exactly like it does elsewhere. It’s an extended version of transformation that goes beyond adopting technology and using it in innovative ways. Or, more to the point, it’s a more all-encompassing solution that focuses on the evolution of traditional IT environments, the replacement of legacy systems and the integration of cloud-based systems and new methodologies and strategies . The aim is to ensure every strategy is centred around data and analytics to deliver the greatest possible value. 

If you’re working with a great software development company, they’ll understand only too well how information is a leading asset. That means not only will they help you to use it to excel your business, they’ll use it themselves to gain a competitive advantage and position themselves within the market. It’s a case of tracking, measuring and analysing constantly. With more platforms than ever dedicated to helping even software developers gain more visibility, continuous improvement is certain for those who strive for it. 

Challenges of Digital Transformation in Software Engineering

The challenges of digital transformation are both technical and organisational. What that means is that the human aspect is a vital part of successful software projects as well as technology itself. With that in mind, some of the key challenges that software developers face include the following:

  • Reducing time-to-market – customer expectations have skyrocketed, in part due to the digitisation of society, and new innovations are expected yesterday. This means that software developers need to be able to constantly deliver new products or new features to existing products. 
  • Ensuring agility and flexibility – new requirements are often added during a project due to the highly competitive nature of modern business. Developers need to have an agile process that is flexible and can incorporate new functionality at any moment.
  • Learning terms and concepts – software developers can’t afford to rest on their laurels, with new concepts like Big Data, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning quickly gaining traction; they need to not only understand them and be constantly learning, but to be ahead of the curve in adopting them. 
  • Accounting for new devices – new devices are constantly being invented; just think of visual reality glasses, smartwatches and smart home devices. This means that developers need to be able to work with new environments, programming languages and frameworks.  
  • Working with technology heterogeneity – one project may use many technologies, each with its own syntax, logic, hardware, data models and more. Developers need to find a way to work with them in parallel and to standardise interfaces to make development more manageable. 
  • Meeting customer expectations – as more software systems are used by ordinary people, there is a new understanding about how they are expected to be used. Software developers need to focus more than ever on the user of the system they are developing and ensure it’s a core part of the development process.

The Renewed Focus on the Customer

As software becomes increasingly fundamental to businesses trying to expand the functionality of their products and update existing infrastructure, quality has become more important than ever. Software that has been designed with quality and customer experience in mind is key for businesses to mature and digitally transform. This means that the software development process itself has evolved to become more agile, incorporating practices such as DevOps that focus on accelerating the delivery of quality, customer-focused software solutions. 

So, rather than digital transformation changing the technology, the biggest change is, in fact, the mindset and environment in which that software is being created. It’s a complete overhaul in the approach to value delivery. Flexibility needs to be built into the development process from the ground up in order to incorporate evolving needs and future technological challenges and opportunities. Every company, software developers included, needs to get used to the idea of continuous improvement in all aspects of their work. However, technology shouldn’t come first; it’s the mindset change that is most important. 

The Incorporation of New Technologies

While mindset and culture are key concerns of digital transformation in the software industry, software developers also need to be able to incorporate new tools and infrastructure. After all, with the need to continuously deploy new functionality and deliver new software products quickly, having the right tools on board can make all the difference. So, for software developers to stay competitive in a shifting market, they need to be open to new technologies and able to accommodate them in their product innovation efforts.

Some of the technology trends that are becoming popular include:

  • Adoption of microservices architecture – a focus on modularity that enables scalability, agility and a faster time to market.
  • Use of smart automation – used to improve the product development process and to create a more agile team.
  • Leverage new devices – new tech and devices should be used not just to create new products but to create new business models and sources of income.
  • Make data-driven decisions – data should be used to drive intelligent decision-making and improve operations, while objectives need to be translated into clear and measurable outcomes with complete visibility over every project. 

How To Start the Transformation Journey
Digital transformation is vital to future-proofing any software development company, and that often means adjusting the company’s stance on technology. Software developers should start by creating a strategy for tailoring software development infrastructure, and ensuring integrations are there to deliver a unified view of the value stream while remaining agile. Meanwhile, creating a single source of truth across all efforts will be the make-and-break of success. Software developers need to incorporate the right tools and be prepared for the challenges as well as the opportunities and most of all, to start transforming, a cultural change is fundamental. If the customer isn’t at the heart of everything that is done, technology alone will never be enough.

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