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Why Software is STILL Eating the World

08/29/2022 3:09 PM | Marla Halley (Administrator)

  • As we near the end of the third quarter of 2022, it would not be an understatement to say the state of the software development industry remains red hot across the U.S. As I considered how to capture some of that momentum and provide some insight into something as large and complex as the state of software development I was reminded of an important article from the past. On August 20, 2011, Marc Andreesen published a piece in the Wall Street Journal that for many in the business and technology world would become a rallying cry, “Why Software is Eating the World”. In this article, he focused on what many were not as sure of then, as we are today, which is the impact software, software companies, and the start-up companies of that day would forever change the world in which we live and the businesses that many of us work for. (This article can still be found reprinted on his website, The insights still very much hold up today in 2022 which is why I will use it to frame up the current state of software development here in the Midwest as well as across most of the world. Here are just a few of the insights from that article that hold relevance for us in 2022.

    “We are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.”

    “Software is also eating much of the value chain of industries that are widely viewed as primarily existing in the physical world.”

    “Many people in the U.S. and around the world lack the education and skills required to participate in the great new companies coming out of the software revolution.”

    Is it hard to imagine that Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet are far from done taking over large swathes of the economy in 2022? While it is still early in the value shift from physical world to virtual we have plenty of samples of this evolution to reference in the last eleven years. FedEx, is now thought of more as a software network that happens to have trucks, planes and distribution hubs attached as an example. How many more physical value chains of industries do you experience weekly that are still in need of a little software revolution? Lastly, we can still see in today's news headlines that Mr. Andreesen’s concerns about the lack of education and skills required to participate in the evolving often software centric economy remains a pressing concern. While those headlines are often about security and privacy issues related to software, they also often highlight the challenges around education and skills gaps in many communities and often across a wide spectrum of people from the youngest to the oldest and the richest to the poorest.

    Here are some additional data points on just the education and skills area and why the last eleven years may have only been the first course in eating the world. This data also provides insight, that even bigger opportunities and challenges lay ahead for software and software development.

    • A shortage of experienced developers continues
In May of this year, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that employer job postings for tech roles reached "a record high", led by new hiring in IT services and software development. Year over year through this same time there was a 52% increase in postings for tech roles with Full Stack Engineers among the most popular title.
  • Salaries balloon      
Year over Year salary increases through the first half of 2022 remain on a growth fast track. Depending on what part of the US you are living, and other sources report salary increases ranging from 7-14% year over year increase and on top of just as robust increases in 2021.
  • The Great Resignation and Potentially the Great Regret
As of July, as many as 26% of the 20 million Americans who quit their jobs in the first five months of this year say they regret that decision according to many surveys. While the numbers for software development I would assume may be lower here given the white-hot salary numbers, it’s a trend to watch also in this space. Given the large, recent layoffs and hiring freezes within technology companies, could there be a Great Regret creeping into the software labor force?

I would like to end with this thought as we sit here in August of 2022. Software is a broad and reaching subject that we all should continue to seek to understand not only from the business perspective. Better understanding how the new generation of developers and technology companies are doing what they do, to what the broader consequences are for businesses and the economy all will remain important investments of our time. By better understanding these and other areas of this layer of the technology industry can we help ensure not only the health of our industry and that of our business community, but also to help ensure better participation for all that it will impact.

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