Do You Have an Open Relationship With Your Software?
From my perch as someone who is watching the development of software systems across the board, there are some trends in the industry that have been happening slowly but surely for the last few years. And these trends more or less define whether a software company is part of yesterday’s world, or tomorrow’s world. Microsoft has clearly been in yesterday’s world, and Google has been on the other end of the spectrum.
So it was of some interest that Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief software architect, put out an announcement this week indicating a shift in his company’s longer-term strategy. Apparently the big ship Microsoft is shifting direction. His prose is what you would expect from a software executive, and here it is:
"Application design patterns at both the front- and back-end are transitioning toward being compositions and in some cases loose federations of cooperating systems, where standards and interoperability are essential… At a higher level, myriad options exist for delivering applications to the user: The web browser, unique in its ubiquity; the PC, unique in how it brings together interactivity/experience, mobility and storage; the phone, unique in its extreme mobility. Developers will need to build applications that can be delivered seamlessly across a loosely coupled device mesh by utilizing a common set of tools, languages, runtimes and frameworks – a common toolset that spans from the service in the cloud to enterprise server, and from the PC to the browser to the phone."
What he’s saying is that the age of the "walled garden" where you buy a closed software system is over. Systems that "talk" to each other and transfer data seamlessly are going to dominate, and will do so using the Web as the transfer medium.
In our case, PatronMail is built that way. We have what’s known as an API and we’re in the process of partnering with several companies to make the transfer of PatronMail e-mail information happen instantly and automatically. Sadly, in our industry there are still many software companies in the ticketing and fundraising arenas that have not caught this bug. They are still singing the "do it our way, or take the highway" song. And this is to the detriment of you – the arts executive that wants to have "best of breed" software, at the best price.
So if you’re out shopping for new software, start thinking differently and asking different questions. Ask how open the systems are. Find out if you can add on other systems to integrate with what you are buying, or if that decision is left solely to the vendor. In my view, vendors should make it as easy as possible for you to get what you want — that’s both good for business and good for our industry.