Can Software Hinder Innovation?

Technology and innovation seem to be synonymous and, in many ways, they are. In the 90s we were all focused on the innovation known as the computer. We wanted the latest computer – latest chip, most advanced video card, largest screen… In those days hardware drove innovation. Technology and innovation change. Yesterday’s innovation holds little interest for us now. Today innovation is driven by software. That is where the action is – where all the innovation is taking place.

A software development team can build custom software to your specifications – for your specific business needs. No off-the-shelf software is built for you – it is built for the masses. A software development team can help a business make changes to their existing software and infrastructure or implement new software that supports innovation. So, while custom software can support innovations such as streamlining business processes through automation, developing more efficient ways to track and analyze data, or adding interactive marketing platforms to help penetrate new markets and generate sales – off-the-shelf software does none of these things.

Make no mistake, off-the-shelf software can help businesses complete a variety of tasks. For example, there are many off-the-shelf word processing programs that work very well. However, when you need software to solve problems or complete tasks that are unique to your business you need a custom software solution. According to a Gartner survey, 45 percent of respondents stated that they recognize how important innovating software is to their business. When you use off-the-shelf software that isn’t designed specifically for your business it can have a very negative impact on productivity, efficiency, and innovation. Off-the-shelf software traps you in a box called “Limitations”. You can only accomplish what the software allows. Custom software allows you to soar with the wings of innovation. It allows you to do what is best for your business’ long-term needs. In other words, the right can help support a spirit of innovation within your business, but the wrong software can just as easily hinder innovation.

Off-the-shelf software lacks the flexibility that would allow it to seamlessly bridge with your current business systems. This lack of flexibility reduces efficiency and productivity and ultimately hinders innovation and minimizes your competitive edge with other businesses. Conversely, customized software provides scalable solutions, builds your brand, engages consumers, increases ROI and drives innovation.

Your business is unlike any other. It is not practical to use a software solution that is not flexible to meet your needs and the needs of your employees and customers. In-the-box software is designed to meet the needs of the masses making it unlikely that it will meet your specific needs. In-the-box software snuffs out the fires of innovation. It is a short-term solution that forces businesses to spend time and money on costly upgrades, and hinders business growth and innovation. Your business needs require software solutions that are flexible and adaptable. Off-the-shelf software limits your ability to adapt and innovate. It also leaves control of what you can do in the hands of the developer of the off-the-shelf software.

Using several off-the-shelf software programs makes integration difficult or impossible. As your business grows and new offices open, the use of multiple stand-alone off-the-shelf software solutions will result in a tangled web of systems that do not work well together. These disjointed systems can cause problems that include lost and inaccurate data. Productivity will decline as frustrated employees spend most of their time dealing with errors and re-entering data rather than spending time on more important tasks.

Can software hinder innovation? Yes, it can! Ultimately, business growth -- production, efficiency, innovation – is about choosing the right tools. Drive innovation with custom software. Choose custom software and place the tools that allow your employees to think outside the box. Innovate!!

Lance Keene

Lance Keene

Lance Keene, the founder of Keene Systems, has 40 years’ experience in custom software development. Over the course of his career he and his team have written software for companies such as Mack Trucks, Bayer, Calvin Klein, Hershey, IBM, Kimberly Clark, Lindt, Sara Lee, Pfizer, BAE, L'oreal, Ocean Spray, Dana Farber, Tootsie Rolls, Guiness, Texas Instruments, and CVS. (see full client list)

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