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Why every management team needs to find its inner geek

It’s no surprise that software is eating the world. Companies like Twitter, Facebook, Google and LinkedIn have exploded over the past decade, and there’s little evidence to indicate that this trend is likely to slow down anytime soon. But beyond the obvious, software has seeped into nearly every department of every company in every industry.

Did you know there are more lines of code in the average car than in all of Facebook and Twitter combined? Every company is fast becoming a software company and it’s dramatically re-shaping the way people work and re-structuring organisations from the inside out.

As technology advances at warp-speed, whether a company succeeds or fails is now largely based on its ability to keep up with technological advances. To stay competitive these days a firm needs to have good software discipline. Using software strategically can help a company to streamline processes, enhance communication and speed up the rate of project delivery.

Good practices all companies should ascribe to, such as responding quickly to new information, minimising the risk of re-work through careful planning, and honing the ability to accurately forecast workload patterns, can all be improved by the right utilisation of software.

Take Bonobos, for example, a New York-based technology-driven men’s clothing line that began opening physical showrooms around the United States last year. Called Guideshops, the showrooms are staffed by Bonobos "Guides" and provide in-person shopping and styling assistance to men who’d rather try on a product before buying it online. Bonobos has been using a team and content collaboration application, to scale its operations and train new employees as the company continues to become more geographically dispersed.

Because Bonobos doesn't have a robust retail management model, it relies heavily on that application to quickly disseminate information to these remote shops. All information about new products and processes is communicated to Guides using that platform. At the same time, the New York office can quickly collect feedback from its distributed employees in one central, searchable, knowledge management system. Such novel software implementations have streamlined Bonobos' HR department and improved its operations by significantly reducing the amount of time needed to on-board new employees and open new stores.

This example goes to show why all departments and senior leaders—including the non-technical—need to understand how software can relate to every aspect of an organisation from the basement to the boardroom. All departments, from marketing to finance, to human resources and customer support, now have the potential to work more efficiently by harnessing the power of software. Employees can be better supported in fulfilling their individual roles, and each department can work better both internally and collaboratively.

This becomes even more important in teams that are geographically dispersed within companies that adopt vertically integrated management structures. Productive means of collaboration and efficient operations are paramount to overcoming internal communication barriers and aligning employee efforts to support a company’s strategic goals.

So what happens if a company doesn’t recognise and respond to this trend? At first, probably nothing too dramatic. After all, it’s very rare for entire markets to be overturned in just a few years. The advent of smartphones in the mobile sector and their revolutionary and almost instant impact are the exception rather than the rule.

Usually industries are changed inch by inch and minute by minute. Companies who fail to utilise the opportunity offered by software will, sooner or later, find themselves not just lagging behind in the race, but out of it completely

The better the software and the better a company’s software discipline, the better each person, each team and each department in an organisation can be. In order to survive nowadays, every company needs to think like a software company. They need to find their inner geek.

Rich Manalang is developer advocate at Atlassian, an Australian enterprise software company that makes products aiming to make the lives of software developers and project managers easier.