People want ready-to-use products and the software world has reacted accordingly. But the long-term fallout to siloed software is happening all around us.
In recent years, we have seen a surge of industry and vertical-specific systems, applications, and SaaS companies that didn’t exist at the beginning of the century. Technology has completely transformed our world, but new client expectations and behaviors are inadvertently impacting our ability to innovate—and to use our creativity.
With new advancements in technology, many software companies strive to create tailored applications that meet the exact needs of their customers.This approach aims to provide specific solutions that make life easier—that’s the idea, at least. Unfortunately, this tunnel-vision focus is siloing software and setting you up with a cobbled-together and complex tech stack.
For example, if you develop a highly specialized event registration software, it will probably work great for events—and only events. Now imagine a company uses that software for a live conference, and they realize they want to record the conference seminars and make them available as courses that can be viewed long after the conference. Well, the event registration software doesn’t do course registration, so the company needs a second platform specifically for courses—and maybe that software handles registration, but not billing. Add another software to your tech stack.
People want cookie-cutter products that are ready to go—no-setup required—and the software world has reacted accordingly. But there is long-term fallout to this ready-to-use siloed software, and that fallout is happening all around us.
Computers do not “think” about data in the same way we do as humans. They can differentiate between data types, such as numbers, strings, arrays, and objects, but they don’t give those things the same attributes.
A name, for example, is just a string according to a computer—the same as an address or my shirt size preference (S, M, L). A house number is only a number and no different from the total of your shopping cart. But for humans, a name is a meaningful attribute—part of someone’s personal identity—and much more important than a T-shirt size. A house number is a physical point in reality, unrelated to my cart total, which can fluctuate at any given moment. You get the picture.
As our dependence on machines increases and we strive to make computers more accessible, we have slowly turned them into an image of ourselves, and this is where the problem lies. Forcing human meaning onto computerized data inhibits its ability to produce general-purpose solutions and instead creates constants, hindering creativity and business development. The result is a loss of business individuality and the factors that differentiate you from your competition.
In this case, large corporations have an advantage, and those that do not fit into the constraints of their software are thrown out of the game unless they create a new system for this specific purpose. Constants have flipped the relationship between the tools and their users.
Creativity With No Constraints
Creativity is one of the most under-acknowledged skills in the software industry. If an application forces you to work in a particular way (normally presented as a “best practice”), you won’t have the opportunity to reach your full creative potential—and the same applies to computers. Unfortunately, the cookie-cutter go-to-market strategy has resulted in fragmentations of the software world to highly specific solutions that are very hard to transfer between segments and verticals.
So, is it even possible to create software without giving it human attributes? Yes, once you start thinking about data the way a computer does, your business will be able to reap the benefits of unrestrained creativity. It would look something like this:
Each data point a computer analyzes would be a type of string, number, array, etc., to which we could attach rules and data verification limitations. This would allow us to create data types that are very versatile (i.e., addresses would have a limitation of their existence, yet names will only have limitations connected to their length.)
We can then take it a step further and set actions on data units in the form of triggers that fire when data enters the system or changes to something specific. The triggers are data units themselves, meaning they can also be triggered. This results in the ability to create extremely complex workflows effortlessly without conceptualizing the impact of cross-reference actions.
The software can endlessly connect data units with no restraints to hold you back but the creator’s imagination. This is how my company, Regpack, works, and the process has been amazing.
Creativity and technology do work together and are not mutually exclusive. Instead of suppressing creativity, technology with no constants can enhance specific areas of the creative process and allow your company free rein to discover new paths to grow your business. This can be hard on some people due to its formless nature, but the biggest challenge is figuring out how big your imagination really is and how you can apply it to your business.
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