Why Software Is Eating The World

Although from last year, this WSJ piece by Marc Andreessen, is still very relevant.

Marc (co-author of the first widely using web browser and Facebook board member among other tings) argues that software will become the foundation of all successful businesses. Either by forming the foundation on which they run, or through software services that deliver to customers. Marc cites some (often US-centric) examples of this trend:

  • Book retail with Borders disappearing while Amazon soared
  • Video rental with Netflix eclipsing Blockbusters
  • Media and music companies reinventing themselves as services – from iTunes to Pandora & Disney buying Pixar
  • Video games as the fastest growing entertainment category
  • Photography – just look at Kodak
  • Telecoms where Skype is the fastest growing company in the sector
  • Recruitment moving to services like LinkedIn

Increasingly, he agues, industries based on physical products (those, like food, that we haven’t yet figured out how to turn into digital bits) rely on software to power their businesses.

One of the areas that Marc calls out as yet to be impacted by this change is education:

Health care and education, in my view, are next up for fundamental software-based transformation. My venture capital firm is backing aggressive start-ups in both of these gigantic and critical industries. We believe both of these industries, which historically have been highly resistant to entrepreneurial change, are primed for tipping by great new software-centric entrepreneurs.

The view of education as an industry expressed in the quote above got me wondering about which aspects of education are most likely to follow this shift soonest. Looking at the objectives for education below (from Stop Stealing Dreams) which areas are more likely to benefit from entrepreneurial software-led change?

To create a society that’s culturally coordinated.

To further science and knowledge and pursue information for its own sake.

To enhance civilization while giving people the tools to make informed

To train people to become productive workers.

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