This is all about reducing software costs

All of our discussion here is really about working out how to reduce the costs of providing software for expert / professional users.

There are no techologically original ideas here, in that an expert user with unlimited budget can have whatever software they want and always has been able to. There probably are examples of this – perhaps in the security services or with Arab sheikhs. Another example is the company CEO who can get any computer problem fixed within seconds, perhaps with the company CIO personally coming into his office to set up a disk scan because his computer is running slow.

But everybody else has difficulties.

There’s also enormous amounts of effort going on to cover the gap between what people expect for the money they are paying and what the software industry is capable of delivering – so we end up with software companies developing fairly simple database applications and marketing them as ‘solutions’ (ie something which solves a big problem).

Nobody talks about this friction for some reason – perhaps there’s a secret (and unconscious) code of software journalists and programmers (which I may have been part of myself) that software should never be criticised, the price should never be mentioned. Technologists like software products which promise to change the earth and expect the industry to provide them.

Elon Musk understood this when he launched his ‘Powerwall battery’ in May 2015. As far as I understand, it is just a battery and some cabling, and the batteries are mass produced in China. It was presented as revolutionising the home energy industry and the company took a year’s advance orders for it.

So there may be an argument that this is old technology dressed up as something new, to meet technology enthusiasts endless hunger for something which will change the world.

Perhaps technology companies would be better off working on a more humble question – how do we develop software which can better meet the demands of expert users at lower cost – including the cost of service and customisation?

 

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