As emphasized in section 2.3, the remarkable advances in underlying electronics, magnetic storage, and fiber optics technologies are rapidly removing any physical barriers to what can be accomplished by software. Software development is increasingly free to focus on maximizing the benefits of software to people, organizations, and society. This includes, of course, the economic interests of the software supplier, but there are many other considerations and opportunities as well.
Staying on top of the latest development in software technology—and indeed driving those developments—is essential for a supplier; that much is clear. But beyond this, in light of the empowerment observed by Moore's law, the success of software development requires a focus on four issues:
Keeping in mind the user and the operator. Software offering more value to end-users will yield greater economic rewards for the supplier and more benefits for users and society (see chapter 3). Offering value to operators as well as users is also crucial to success (see chapter 5).
Taking into account what already exists. In practice, progress must be made largely by adding to rather than replacing legacy technologies or applications. Wholesale replacement of an infrastructure or application (or both) is often not an option because of the higher risk, the greater disruption, and the customer's desire to make productive use of previous investments. Software suppliers must therefore offer solutions that are viable in the user's context, which may mean compatibility with legacy equipment and software. Change must be incremental, moving things forward without forcing excessive capital and development investments or arbitrarily overthrowing the status quo.
Taking into account the workings of the marketplace. The workings of the marketplace in software and complementary products (like equipment and networks) as well as suppliers' responses substantially affect outcomes. Close attention and response to competitors is always wise. For reasons outlined in chapter 7, close attention to complementary firms as well as competitors is important because one supplier can rarely offer a complete solution. Other important workings of the marketplace include distribution in the Internet age (this chapter), standardization (chapter 7), the industrial organization and how it is changing (chapter 7), intellectual property portfolios and rights management (chapter 8), and various factors arising from economics (chapter 9).
Paying attention to the collective welfare. Developers should recognize the possible positive (as well as negative) effects of software on our collective welfare—on society as a whole—and work to accentuate the positive and mitigate the negative. Issues with societal scope, such as privacy, law enforcement, national security, intellectual property rights, and maintaining a competitive marketplace, are discussed in chapter 8. This is virtuous and demonstrates good citizenship, but it is also good business. Inattention to these issues can do direct economic harm to suppliers, negatively affect the public perception of the software industry, and provoke actions by politicians that may not benefit the industry.