More than half a billion years ago, there was a quantum leap in the variety and complexity of life on Earth. After eons of the unchanged supremacy of sponges and other simple life forms, a tipping point occurred which scientists refer to as the “Cambrian Explosion”. Science suggests that the widespread expansion of highly varied life forms appearing within the space of a few million years (a relatively short timeframe in astronomical terms) was catalyzed by the evolutionary perfection of the basic building blocks of life, thus allowing complex organisms to successfully evolve and progress much more quickly than ever before. Some experts suggest that we’re entering a similar period of explosive expansion in the technology industry today. Not a “Cambrian”, but perhaps a “Programmarian” Explosion, to coin a phrase. What’s changed within the primordial soup of the global tech industry that is unleashing a tsunami of new innovations?
Marc Andreessen, one of the internet’s early luminaries, founder of Netscape and current partner in a leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm is quoted in a recent article in the Economist as saying, “Software is eating the world.” Describing the stupefying array of new services, products and solutions being fielded by a seemingly endless army of tech startups, Andreessen disagrees with those who suggest today’s environment is simply an echo or reprise of the dotcom bubble. The fundamental forces driving today’s burgeoning start-up culture may be favorably compared to the perfection of the building blocks of life this planet experienced in the Cambrian Explosion. But has enough truly changed since the 1990s that today we should witness such an explosion?
We say, “yes” and offer the following evidence from our humble perspective as the creators of one of the numerous technology solutions currently thriving in ways our predecessors simply could not even comprehend 20 years ago. Most of the bad business ideas and foolish tech produced by the dotcom wave of innovation died along with the startups that spawned them. Today’s environment is quite different. Cloud computing allows scale and reliability without capital investment, and programming frameworks like Ruby on Rails, P2P sharing technologies, digital streaming and others have become standardized. API’s act as standard conduits for quick and easy integration between all manner of tech products like online maps (Google), payment processing (PayPal and other financial transactions), e-commerce (Amazon) and real time collaboration (Facebook and other social tools). Most important are “Platform as a Service” environments that allow “white labelling” of a tech stack and bundling together components to produce a highly evolved and very industry specific solution without monolithic investment in the underlying technology.
From our perspective as one of the “funky new life forms” unleashed by the Programmarian Explosion, we can verify the validity of this idea. GreatVines typifies the kind of complex organism that could only evolve and thrive in today’s environment with:
- the Salesforce platform as a foundation enabling the collection of sales data and collaborative framework;
- GoodData cloud-based analytics for real time decision support;
- mobile connectivity via Adobe PhoneGap for iOS, Android and Windows phones;
- mobile-friendly API; and
- real-time sales order integration to modern ERP solutions.
After all, we’ve built a world-class beverage marketing and sales automation platform atop some of the tech sector’s best building blocks.