A long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, there was this dude who said that there was no way that we could have more than a few hundred phones operating at any given time across the world. Why? because we wont have enough operators to patch calls through! The same prediction was made for computers from someone in (gasp!) IBM. This ofcourse, was a long time ago.
Just like the complexity the phone system shifted into the network, this now too is happening to software. Referring to Shoaib Abbasi’s talk on Software-as-a-service at a PASHA event held recently, enterprise software is going the way of the consumer Internet. With technologies like web2.0, Ajax and broadband becoming commonplace, most websites now are nearly as functional as a rich client, and in most of the cases a viable alternative to a executable file on your desktop. The complexity has shifted into the network, most directly, into the web application.
So, this opens up a large, potentially great opportunity for us here in Pakistan. You can be a group of three programmers sitting in karachi and you can sell your web application to Yahoo for , say, 6 million dollars. No joke. Oddpost.com was a mail service with an outlook-style interface started by 3 out of work developers in the bay area about 3 years ago. Last year they sold their company to Yahoo! for 27 million dollars. Has anyone noticed now the latest version of Hotmail looks like Outlook? Yahoo’s buyout of Oddpost kick started the Windows guys to keep up….Also last year, Bazee.com, the “indian” ebay was bought by Ebay for 50 million dollars.
There is a large shift right now towards web applications and AJAX based front-ends. If you have the right application, (like Salesforce.com did by taking on siebel and netsuite.com does by taking on the ERPs of the world) you can potentially land yourself right into the middle of Silicon Valley dreamland. Today’s killer-app is web based, along with the LAMP/WAMP stack, and extreme programming methods (which work well for medium sized web-apps), the SDLC is a much more faster and brutal beast to tame, with timelines for software development dropping from years into months. Which means the barrier to entry into the enterprise app space in mature markets just came down a few notches…
Which means, we have a potential 2 year window to break back into the Silicon Valley Club by pursuing innovation and ideas and by building frameworks and applications that move essential functions into web based interfaces running in browsers. In the end its not just the ideas but also the ability to execute them that makes individuals and companies epic.
Time and opinion are not on our side, but that hasnt stopped us as an industry from being successful before. For the most part, we have lost the IT outsourcing race to Israel and India. The race to move applications into webspace and off the desktop is on. Lets not miss the chance to win this one.