Q: Who should read The Software Paradox?
A: The book should be applicable to a number of audiences. Most obviously, it can help software-oriented businesses understand changes in the market context that they may not be obvious yet, and help suggest a path forward. Conversely, the book can help service-oriented businesses improve their market messaging as well as identify where and how software-centric businesses may be vulnerable. For end users, meanwhile, The Softare Paradox can help with everything from software vendor negotiations to rethinking their in-house technology portfolio.
Q: At less than a hundred thousand words, is it really a book?
A: For lack of a better term, yes.
Q: What if I don’t buy the core premise?
A: Give the book a read; it’s not long, in any case. Most objections to the hypothesis center around exceptions: Company A is making Amount B per quarter, doesn’t that disprove the thesis? But the question isn’t whether software can still be monetized – it obviously can – but whether it’s as easy today as it was yesterday, and if it will be as easy tomorrow as it is today. There are examples in the book of companies making big changes to their approach, so it’s worth at least considering whether or not you might be wrong.
Q: And what if I do buy the core premise?
A: Obviously still read the book. If nothing else, it won’t take you long and you’ll undoubtedly hear of examples you haven’t encountered before. Best case, however, you’ll walk away with new perspectives on where the opportunities and challenges are for your business moving forward.
Q: Why isn’t the book longer?
A: As with The New Kingmakers, reading Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee’s excellent, 76 page Race Against the Machine demonstrated that an interesting thesis can be laid out with supporting evidence in a shorter form which doesn’t require the same time commitment from readers. The book is intended to tell the story as efficiently as possible, so that busy people aren’t required to invest weeks reading it.
Q: What is the book about?
A: Ultimately, the Software Paradox describes the counterintuitive idea that software is becoming harder to directly monetize even as it’s becoming increasingly important from a strategic perspective. For several decades, the technology industry has been focused around the idea that software is how you generate outsized profits and returns. Without questioning the fact that software is still being monetized and will be for decades, the question is whether the economic viability of software as a stand-alone, saleable asset has changed. The argument here is that it has changed.
Q: How does this book compare to Stephen O’Grady’s analyst blog?
A: It’s longer, for one. This extra space allows for the incorporation or more examples, case studies, facts and figures. The book also synthesizes a number of different parallel lines of research in one digestible package.
Q: What is RedMonk?
A: The analyst firm that Stephen O’Grady co-founded with James Governor in 2002. It’s the only developer focused analyst firm in the industry, and works with companies large and small to help them understand the strategic importance of developers to their business.