A Software Road Trip From SouthBySouthWest(SxSW) to South China: What I Learned about Mobile, IoT and Continuous Delivery

Written by: Electric Bee
6 min read
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What a unique and exciting year it has been thus far!
First, I had the pleasure to speak at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival in March in the lively city of Austin, Texas – lots of fun and I urge anyone to go if you have never been. Next, we formally launched Ship.io, our mobile SaaS platform for continuous delivery of mobile apps , out of a successful beta and into commercial availability in April. And after that, members of my team and I had the opportunity to travel to Shenzhen in southern China – where our experience re-emphasized the fact that technology innovation continues to occur continuously across the globe.
Across this 10,000 mile journey, I had the opportunity to peek into the future trends of media, culture, technology (and how they interact with each other) at two different locations. Surprisingly, what I find is that these two ends of the world are highlighting the same thing. Technology, specifically software, is increasinglythe glue to our connected lifestyle . And that software is eating the world, much faster than we know.

During SxSW in Austin, whether it is crowd-sourced video journalism by Meerkat, or a host of startups aiming to blend physical and digital works through innovations in Augmented, Virtual Reality, I saw the role software is playing in replacing older processes with brand new ones and creating marketplaces.
In Shenzhen, China, we met with exciting businesses ranging from TenCent (China's largest and most used Internet service portal), Huawei and several startups in the mobile space. We experienced China’s versions of Uber, Twitter and other popular mobile services. Of particular interest to me is the smart, connected devices and Shenzhen region’s growing importance as the innovation hub for related manufacturing. Shenzhen is home to key players such as DJI, ZTE and Hangzhou Hikvision and continues to be one of the main hubs for device manufacturing across the globe. Everythingfrom phones to drones are born out of this city every day, and at a very fast pace. This reality is creating true excitement not only for the Chinese, but for many around the world because the supply of IoT devices is generating a strong demand in software development and creating emerging business and job opportunities.
With the continued boom in IoT device manufacturing in places like Shenzhen, software applications (embedded, mobile, web, etc.) are now being deployed straight to these devices, which put a mission-critical emphasis on the app development process. Not only that, but based on the companies and people we met with at SxSW and in South China, software updates increasingly need be delivered at lightning speeds because downtime is not an option for a growing customer-base. As thelines between software and hardware blend together , we realized this transformation is putting lots of pressure on the software development community as a whole. In turn, we discovered that in order for device manufacturing to continue on its growth path in places like Shenzhen, and to support the successful rollout of new media and technology offerings that we saw at SxSW, we as a technology community must empower app developers to purpose-build the right code for any given device or connected system.
As I touched on during my talk at SxSW, Continuous Delivery is particularly well-equipped for dealing with thedemands of the connected device software delivery dilemma. As frequent updates are increasingly urgent and absolutely required in the IoT world, app developers are entering yet another frontier of ingenuity. In order to satisfy an end users’ desire for a constantly (and consistently) updated device, along with a developers’ need for a manageable development process, we need look no further than our own backyard for examples of how to support the ongoing software-centric business transformation/evolution.
Nowhere is it more evident than Silicon Valley that software is acting as the glue to our connected lifestyle. An epicenter of innovation, the Silicon Valley community is enabling software to eat the world, and at a pace that has only begun to display its rapidity. As companies like Apple, Google and eBay continue to push the bounds of possibility, companies like CloudBees are leading the charge to help businesses (and more importantly their development and IT teams) avoid becoming a cautionary tale with the likes of Kodak and Blockbuster. As evidenced by all the activity happening in DevOps and Continuous Delivery, the automation and acceleration of software delivery is at peak necessity. The conveyor belt spitting out the software “glue” is not only getting bigger and moving faster, but based on our experiences so far in 2015, we learned it also needs to be dynamic. With all the new advancements occurring – from the new devices coming off of the assembly lines in Shenzhen, to the ingenuity shared at SxSW – the Silicon Valley community has plenty of opportunity to help shape the future of a connected world and an obligation to support IoT developers and engineers along the way.
The former GE CEO Jack Welch once said, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near. ” If adapt or die is your motto today, surviving is no longer good enough. Businesses need to stay ahead of the IoT innovation curve, which is predominantly balanced on the advancements made in software technology. We saw plenty of examples of this, from Austin to Shenzhen, and many are trying to ride and conquer the wave. In fact, we also realized after our return from China that we are all connected in many other ways as well. For example, new apps being hatched at events like SxSW create a greater demand for the devices rolling (or flying) out of Shenzhen and vice versa – the new devices coming from China incentivize companies and individuals to develop the next best apps for consumers. This dynamic relationship means the rate of change is happening very fast and making innovation continuous – there are no timeouts in the IoT game. I was lucky enough to travel and see this convergence of hardware and software first-hand, and I can safely say the future is going to be less about boundaries and more about making innovation boundless.

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