Operating Systems for Distributed Work

Even after we no longer have to physically distance, more software development teams will be fully distributed (people can work from anywhere) or employ a hybrid structure. Hybrid structures could include people hybrid (some people in an office and some people working remotely) or time hybrid (entire teams working some days in the office and some days remotely). This shift will continue to happen for both large, established businesses (e.g. Twitter, Stripe, Slack) and for new startups, many of whom choose to be distributed from inception.

Regardless of how companies chose to be organized a few things are clear to me:

  • Software development is all happening in the cloud – this is unlikely to change.
  • Work will be powered by a wider set of SAAS tools which are the best tools for the job to be done (v.s broal tools which may not be perfect for purpose).
  • APIs and systems for information transfer between these tools will, and must get much better.
  • Companies will want to own and control their IP across these external tools systems.

I think we will look back in a few years and realize that our systems for working in the cloud were outdated. In particular we are missing connective tissue between all the external SAAS tools that we rely on every day to power our work and collaboration.

There are many startups and established companies working on aspects of these problems, but nothing I’ve seen is flexible enough to power work for every software development company in the world. I think more of the solutions need to be open source and focus on enabling companies to own their data.

If the connective tissue or “Operating System” is open source, it allows developers to add in house custom tools or connect their unique mix of SAAS tools together without relying on a provider to ‘support’ that integration. Companies like Rippling spent over a year in stealth just building over 100 API integrations, and continues to have large teams focused on adding and maintaining these integrations. With open source, the community can power these integrations and adapts faster and more durably as new tools are built and adopted.

If the connective tissue or “Operating System” allows for better data connectivity and transparency then companies will own more of their intellectual property. This results in less, mission critical, operating data being walled in third party products (which also forces lock in) and gives companies more flexibility to organize, find and analyze their information. It would also allow for new use cases like measuring productivity of teams, which are very difficult to achieve today.

I’m personally excited about innovating, and supporting innovation in this space.

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