Once upon a startup, there was a Foursquare-like app called “Burbn.” It encouraged users to check-in from social events, make social plans, and share photos of their merrymaking. You’ve never heard of this app because few people ever used it—though its creators did notice one thing: those who did log-in were sharing pics like crazy. In response, Burbn’s developers did some retooling and remarketing to later release…wait for it…Instagram.
This success story is one of my favorite examples of how a young business can win by observing and responding to its customers’ needs. So what if you derail a bit from your primary focus in the process to win customer loyalty? Just do it. Taking chances and shifting course as needed is what startups are all about.
Manage Technical Debt (and Even Greater Risks)
Of course, the bigger the spoils, the larger the risks you take–with your software and your business. Especially in startup mode, you don’t always have the time or the manpower to address even basic software quality and security concerns. It’s all about releasing new functionality at speed to recruit new customers, and often times you can fall into the mentality of “Big deal if someone can hack into our system. By the time they figure that out, we’ll be on to the next release.”
That’s all well and good until you compromise so many times that you’ve amassed a critical amount of technical debt–a loan you’ll have to repay at some point to continue to modernize and protect your proprietary data. If the debt is not resolved, it continues to accumulate interest, making it more troublesome to implement future changes and keep data secure.
An estimated 20% of new businesses will be hit by cybercrime, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance. And of those who are victimized, 60 percent cease operations within six months.
New research from the World Economic Forum underscores the danger: In its ranking of top perils facing businesses, cyberattacks are the top threat to United States businesses, and the 12th largest threat worldwide. Data theft follows closely on the list.
You can take out insurance against a breach. But that’s like getting great health coverage, only to continue eating donuts for breakfast, double cheeseburgers for lunch, and steak for dinner, when you’re already at risk for heart disease. You may have to pay for ignoring the problem sooner or later. And most likely, it’ll be sooner.
Create a Healthier Development Diet
If you’re one of those open-minded startups I mentioned earlier, your willingness to change and innovate may come with a high potential for technical debt. For example, you may be keeping dead code in your code base while adding or modifying code to fit your new needs. Or you may add new technologies or frameworks to your app, only to never use them again as you alter your mission. These artifacts take a toll on software quality. They can make your application less robust, while creating opportunities for inefficiency and compromised system security–all which increase potential for data breaches.
Here’s the good news for a chief developer or a startup founder consumed with developing and re-developing an app in a rapidly changing business environment: You can put Software Intelligence to work to manage your technical debt. For example, Software Intelligence can help you:
- Define a strict architectural model, including the database, data layer, business layer, UI, etc. In conjunction with this, deploy analytic tools that can automatically check your architectural integrity, clearly and quickly identifying technical debt hot spots.
- Build on your architectural model to identify code-level inefficiencies that impact application performance. A recent Google study shows that 53% of mobile users will close a web app if it takes more than 3 seconds to load…don’t let preventable performance issues bring down your revenue.
- Integrate your analytics directly to a project management tool, such as JIRA, to help you track the tasks that your team will need to perform. Particularly in the case of security flaws, you’ll be able to keep better track of violations and address these flaws speedily to prevent cyberattacks.
So go ahead and be great. Transform your company from humble startup to the next big IPO everyone can’t stop talking about. You can keep on inventing, reinventing, and being extremely successful–without incurring an insurmountable technical debt. It’s just a matter of using Software Intelligence tools that let you identify and eliminate out common technical violations before they become unmanageable business problems.