Why discipline is a cornerstone of smart innovation

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Discipline-Punched-Card-500x394This is the first in a series of three articles examining how a disciplined approach can help maximize the value of software innovations.

History repeats itself.

There is a major global transformation occurring that impacts all industries and major populations. Software is transforming our world as we become more reliant on digital systems.

Software innovations are not only connecting our physical world, but are also serving as the basis for new media and a foundation for communications, machine interaction, education, data analysis, knowledge and artificial intelligence for social, cloud, and mobile technologies.

Unbound by geographical, cultural and industry boundaries, software’s pliability, accessibility, availability, reuse and reach has enabled the rapid growth of software products and services.

Yet this transformation isn’t necessarily being managed with the best practices and processes learned from previous transformations. There are several lessons we can reuse and reapply to maximize the innovations of today. The advantages software enables can be weakened when discipline, governance, security and control are overlooked because uncertainty sets in.

Ninety years ago, IBM used engineering discipline and application in the commercialization of employee time-keeping systems, weighing scales, automatic meat slicers, coffee grinders, and most importantly, for the development of computer punched card equipment. As IBM began to apply discipline in their analysis of future markets, it became clear that mainframe technology, Fortran, the personal computer, the internet, and now cloud and mobile technology must use the common principles and practices.

This mindset drove efforts to refresh IBM legacy products and services, as well as our change in direction from hardware to services to software. Software engineering is simply the glue integrating the elements together, but requires discipline from other professions such as medicine, law, accounting and engineering.

Software has few geographical, physical, and/or social boundaries, but should be bound by an accumulation of best practices and discipline from around the world to help protect public safety, wealth, security and health, as well as provide transparency to all parties involved.  Discipline strengthens the fabric that weaves components together.

Software engineering components are similar to the components of other industries and should embrace the application of professional conduct. In my upcoming posts, I’ll examine how other industries have used discipline to innovate in ways that can be applied to software products and services.

For best practice information regarding cloud technology for small and medium-sized businesses, visit this page.

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