Everything has a half-life, everything.

Product Jul 27, 2021

Remember that new car that you bought and drove off the dealership. The moment you signed the purchase agreement the value of the car dropped 20%, even though nothing else changed. Especially, this is more true for creative work. The half-life of what you produce in today's software world is extremely small. It could be months, weeks or even days for that glamorous feature that you added to your Android or iPhone app.

Software doesn't degrade. Why is the half-life for software so small?

  • Believe it or not. Software does degrade. When you write software in a particular language version of code, the language engine is constantly updated for newer features, bugs and flaws. So, the code gets recompiled. The same happens to the infrastructure environment - the Operating systems, the containers, the DevOps tools, the CI/CD software they all evolve. And as they evolve code needs to be updated to keep up with the changes. So, code does degrade.
  • Features are hardly used by customers. Remember the 80/20 rule. 20% of the features are used 80% of the time. So, the half-life of the rest of the features that you spent money on is rotting out there with minimal use and yet you have to keep them updated to the latest standards with on-going costs.
  • Architecture and design continuously evolves. If the design changes every six months, there is no point to spending six months time to put together a fancy UX or UI. Take a look at most apps you use. They all change all the time including the experience.
  • Infrastructure changes often - Take Google Cloud or AWS as an example. In the last 10 years, the total architecture behind the scenes have changed totally more than 8 times. That puts the infrastructure half-life at around a year to year and a half at best.

We only looked at some small examples in a software context. The point is everything changes. And the half-life of these changes are small. Therefore, there is no point to doing slow work. A project that takes six months to complete is obsolete by the time it is released. It has already taken a hit due to technology value taken a half-life hit. And then, it is back to the drawing board. If that is so, speed is your only friend. And accepting that everything degrades. Which means adaptability to continuous change.


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