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Reusable IP

By John | September 11, 2008

A friend of mine once asked me what I mean when I use the phrase “Reusable IP”. I use the phrase a lot and I know it can mean a lot of different things. Let me give you a few snips of what I think of when I use the phase. A few years ago I was doing some Tivoli consulting for the Navy in Hawaii. The hotel I was staying at had a little Ukulele shop. Each afternoon when I came home from work I would walk past the shop and peek in the window. One day I stopped in and asked the shop keeper if he could show me a few chords on the ukulele. He hemmed and hawed and seemed annoyed. Then he told me he is not really a teacher and he simply didn’t want to do it. Then I told him that if he showed me just a couple of chords I might buy one. Reluctantly he handed me a cheat sheet that had about 6 chords on it. I fumbled for a few minutes and then broke out playing and singing a killer rendition of “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison. The shop keeper looked up in amazement and asked me if this was the first time I had ever played a ukulele . I told him that yes it was the first time I had ever played a Uke and that was an absolutely true statement. What I didn’t tell him is that I had been playing the ukulele’s six string ancestor, the guitar, for over 30 years. That my friends is what I am talking about when I use the phrase “Reusable IP.”

I’ll give you another example. If you do a search on Google for resumes of people who can install Tivoli monitoring you will find hundreds of resumes. However, there are less than 50 who can actually really make it work. It’s the same software why can’t those hundreds of consultants make it work. Young consultants that work for me are always amazed when they show me some new software program that is written in Python, Ruby, or Java and I can scan it quickly and tell exactly what the program does and why. They ask me, “Do you program in all those languages?” I tell them not really. What they don’t realize is that I spent the first 10 years of my career coding assembler and that the language specification is the least significant part of the programing. One of my favorite authors is the Italian philosopher Umberto Eco (Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum). He writes all his novels in Italian however I have read all of his books in English. I have had no complaints.

So when I look for a successfully company I look for the “Reusable IP.” I truly believe that as IT management becomes more and more commoditized the the old days of selling rote software packages are going away. The new type of software company will need to figure out how to provides a “steroids” like service (i.e., provide in one week what their competitors provide in three weeks). The companies that can grasp and deliver “Reusable IP” will become the new successful software companies of the future.

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