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We’ve all heard Marc Andreessen’s famous declaration in 2011 that “software is eating the world.” It was a warning statement. today’s modern, digitally-driven businesses provide all kinds of software-based products and services while relying heavily on software to manage their internal operations. Even organizations known for selling hardware, such as electronics companies and automakers, are increasingly offering subscription-based software services to increase revenue.
Organizations have long understood how important their software is to their business. But they are now fully aware of how important the source code of their software is. The source code is the most important asset. It contains all the business logic and dictates how the software will behave and function. It is the source that eats the world.
Source code is the foundation of every modern enterprise. The C-suite needs to own the code and make it a priority with things like sales, marketing, security, finance and HR. To strengthen this critical strategic asset and maximize their business results, organizations must focus on code at the highest level.
Source code problem
This transition will solve a major problem that has gone unchecked for years: code ownership. Someone must be responsible for maintaining the source code and software. Today, there is no one who really owns the source code.
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Developers don’t feel like they own the code because most software contains a lot of legacy code that they didn’t write. Instead, they only feel they have ownership over the new code they write. This hurts the overall quality of the code. Bad legacy code is often overlooked and allowed to languish, leading to poorer software performance and potential vulnerabilities.
We’re seeing more chief development officers (CDOs) emerge, but they’re primarily responsible for mastering the software development process and ensuring best practices are followed, not the code itself. CDOs and VPs of Engineering ultimately focus on process and efficiency, not code ownership.
Own code at C-level
Enterprises that prioritize code will ensure that there is someone at the highest level of the organization who is responsible for the code and accountable for its success or failure. Today, it is unimaginable that any large company can exist without an executive managing security or someone in charge of financial management. As the C-level begins to make code a priority, every modern, software-based organization will have a leader dedicated to code mastery. In some cases, this may be in the form of Chief Coding Officers (CCOs).
Code ownership will help eliminate technical debt. Any organization large enough to have 200–300 developers is likely to have an enormous amount of technical debt stemming from broken legacy code. With someone specifically responsible for code, organizations can focus on systematically cleaning up code, fixing bugs, and minimizing their technical debt.
In turn, this will allow developers to focus on new projects and drive real business value. These leaders will also lead efforts to proactively fix coding errors before they cause major software (and business) problems, leading to even greater developer productivity and overall efficiency.
Almost every large enterprise, regardless of industry, relies heavily on software to deliver services, manage internal operations, or drive itself forward. Without clean code, the performance of this software will suffer, which will have a negative impact on the business. As more organizations continue to recognize that source code is a central component of software, they will begin to prioritize it at the boardroom level and ensure that they have someone, perhaps the CCO, solely responsible for the success of their code.
Olivier Godin Is the CEO and co-founder of Sonar
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