We Don't All Need to Learn to Code | Summary and Q&A

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January 9, 2020
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a16z
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We Don't All Need to Learn to Code

TL;DR

Enterprise software is evolving to cater to power users, allowing for efficient collaboration, low latency communication, unlimited storage and compute, and automation.

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Key Insights

  • ✋ The workforce composition is changing, with digital natives who expect high-quality software and have budget authority to influence software purchasing decisions.
  • 😑 Enterprise software is evolving to cater to power users, who focus on efficiency, collaboration, and creative expression.
  • 👻 Collaboration at scale is facilitated by revision control systems, eliminating attachment chaos and allowing for organized collaboration on files.
  • 😘 Low latency communication enables power users to quickly and efficiently convey ideas or complete tasks using command lines and automation.
  • 👻 Leveraging unlimited storage and compute allows developers to generate and analyze data for better insights and focused work.
  • 🔁 The mantra of "don't repeat yourself" highlights the importance of automation and component reuse for efficiency.
  • 🥰 Power users in various fields, including marketing, HR, and finance, can benefit from adopting the developer's way of working.

Transcript

we now know that when given better tools people can evolve and adapt and take advantage of them we're gonna be talking about enterprise software how it's changing why it's changing and what it means for the tools that we all use that's me that's a developer but I actually have a degree in anthropology that's a founder and as a CEO I've spent time t... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How do developers collaborate at scale?

Developers use revision control systems to collaboratively work on files, resolving conflicts and merging changes in an efficient and organized manner. This eliminates the need for constantly sharing and updating attachments.

Q: What is low latency communication?

Low latency communication refers to the ability to quickly and efficiently convey ideas or instructions to a computer without unnecessary delays or time-consuming browsing activities. Developers use command lines and automation to achieve this, while non-developers often waste time searching or browsing for information.

Q: How do developers leverage unlimited storage and compute?

Developers store all versions of their code and generate log files to gain insights into performance and usage. They use applications like New Relic or app dynamics to analyze this data. Non-developers often lack the tools to gain similar insights into their work.

Q: Why is the mantra "don't repeat yourself" important for developers?

Developers automate repetitive tasks and reuse components, allowing them to be efficient and save time. Non-developers often miss out on this efficiency by manually performing repetitive tasks or recreating components.

Summary

In this video, the speaker discusses the developer's way of working and its impact on enterprise software. They explore various aspects of the developer mindset, such as efficiency, creative expression, and leveraging technology to focus on the best use of time. The speaker highlights key traits of the developer's way, including collaboration at scale, low latency communication, leveraging unlimited storage and compute, and the mantra of not repeating oneself. They showcase examples of software that harness these developer paradigms, such as Superhuman for efficient email communication, Command E for enterprise search, ChartHop for organizational planning, People.ai for AI-driven sales coaching, and Polarity for implicit information sharing in team collaboration. The speaker concludes by emphasizing the growing influence of digital natives in the workforce and the shift in enterprise buying authority, which opens up opportunities for powerful software tools for everyone.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the essence of the developer's way of working?

The developer's way of working is all about efficiency and creative expression. It prioritizes focusing limited mental energy on the highest and best uses of time, rather than wasting it on mundane tasks like navigating applications or slow computer performance. It aims to empower individuals to be power users and make computers do what they want them to do.

Q: How do developers collaborate at scale?

Developers excel at both synchronous and asynchronous collaboration. They have access to revision control systems that allow every person on a team to have a copy of files with an endless timeline of versions. This system elegantly brings together changes made by different individuals, resolves conflicts, and shows who made what changes. This collaboration approach is crucial for movements like the open-source community, where developers work on projects together seamlessly.

Q: What is low latency communication, and why is it important?

Low latency communication refers to the efficient transfer of ideas from one's mind to the computer as instructions. Developers often use command lines, which are highly expressive and time-saving. In contrast, non-power users may spend unnecessary time searching for and selecting files or performing tasks on the computer. Low latency communication allows developers to convey their ideas quickly, minimizing distractions and maximizing productivity.

Q: How do developers leverage unlimited storage and compute?

Developers write code that can generate large volumes of log files. They take advantage of unlimited storage availability and store everything, even past versions of files, for future reference. Additionally, developers use performance monitoring applications to analyze their code's efficiency and track user behavior. These insights help them focus their efforts on critical areas. Unfortunately, non-developers often lack similar tools and insights to optimize their work.

Q: What does it mean to not repeat oneself in the developer's way?

"Don't repeat yourself" (DRY) is an important mantra in the developer community. Developers strive to automate repetitive tasks and ensure code reuse for components that may be needed again in the future. For example, they often reuse widely used components like date picker widgets to save time and effort. However, non-developers may find themselves repeating tasks like writing similar emails or creating financial models without the same benefits of automation.

Q: How do better tools empower people to evolve and adapt?

The introduction of better tools allows individuals to evolve and adapt their ways of working. Just like the iPhone revolutionized how people interact with smartphones, powerful software tools can transform the effectiveness of different roles. As people are given access to more efficient and productive tools, they can unleash their potential, improve their workflows, and focus on higher-value tasks instead of struggling with limited or outdated software.

Q: How are digital natives influencing the enterprise landscape?

Digital natives, individuals who grew up mobile-first, have higher expectations for the quality of software. They are not content with clunky and outdated enterprise software. As the workforce composition changes, with more digital natives entering the job market, their preferences and demands impact the enterprise landscape. Moreover, these digital natives often hold budget authority within organizations, allowing them to adopt and promote software tools that cater to their needs and preferences. This shift in buying authority has significant implications for the future of enterprise software.

Q: What are some examples of software that harness developer paradigms?

Some examples mentioned in the video include Superhuman, which offers efficient email communication through a command line interface and snippets. Command E is an enterprise search tool that provides fast and comprehensive search capability across multiple SaaS applications. ChartHop is a software that treats organizations as code, offering revision control and insights for better planning and growth. People.ai leverages AI to automate data entry for salespeople, providing insights and coaching to enhance performance. Polarity enables implicit information sharing in team collaboration by highlighting relevant information in real-time.

Q: How does leveraging data make someone more effective at their job?

Leveraging data can significantly improve job effectiveness by providing insights and actionable information. For example, software tools like People.ai can automatically analyze sales-related data from email and calendar systems, offering sales reps valuable insights into customer sentiment, communication frequency, and meeting impact. This data-driven approach enables salespeople to refine their strategies and become higher-performing individuals.

Q: How does the adoption of command line interfaces prepare for future advancements?

The adoption of command line interfaces, like those used by developers, prepares users for future advancements in human-computer interaction. As technologies like speech-controlled interfaces or brain-to-computer interfaces emerge, they often translate commands or thoughts into a command line format. By embracing command line interfaces early on, individuals are better prepared to adopt and take advantage of these future advancements.

Q: How does the shift in enterprise buying authority impact software development?

The shift in enterprise buying authority, moving away from traditional top-down decision-making, opens up opportunities for more powerful and effective software tools. Software companies can market and sell their products bottom-up, starting with individual teams or departments who become evangelists for the software. This shift allows for greater adoption of innovative tools that cater to specific needs and preferences within organizations, ultimately driving the future of software development in the enterprise.

Takeaways

The developer's way of working, characterized by efficiency, creative expression, and power user capabilities, is influencing enterprise software. Digital natives in the workforce, who have higher expectations for software quality, are driving the shift towards powerful tools. Collaboration at scale, low latency communication, leveraging unlimited storage and compute, and the mantra of not repeating oneself are core elements of the developer paradigm. Various software examples, such as Superhuman, Command E, ChartHop, People.ai, and Polarity, harness these paradigms to empower individuals in different roles. Leveraging data and adopting command line interfaces prepare users for future advancements. The shift in enterprise buying authority allows for the proliferation of powerful software tools that cater to individuals' highest common multiple rather than the lowest common denominator. Overall, this transition in the market signifies a major opportunity for individuals to become power users and for software development to cater to their evolving needs.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Enterprise software is changing to cater to power users, who work differently than normal users and focus on efficiency and creative expression.

  • Developers have tools, such as revision control systems, that allow for collaboration at scale and eliminate the need for constantly sharing and updating attachments.

  • Power users communicate with low latency, using command lines and automation to quickly convey ideas or complete tasks, without wasting time browsing the internet or searching for files.

  • Developers leverage unlimited storage and compute to generate and analyze data, allowing for better insights and focused work.

  • The mantra of "don't repeat yourself" is important for developers, who automate repetitive tasks and reuse components, while non-developers often miss out on this efficiency.

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