sign up key on keyboard continuous quality in subscription economyIn the software development world, we often discuss DevOps synonymously with continuous integration and continuous releases. It seems everything is continuous these days and I’m wondering where this trend is taking us. With Agile, where “everyone is responsible for quality,” we are no longer throwing software over the wall after development to be tested. Different kinds of testing happen all the time. I call it Continuous Quality.

“Continuous” describes a movement much bigger than software, but supported mostly by technology and software. It’s a movement that is founded on everything being smaller and delivered in smaller quantities (except food in restaurants, where we tend to like to supersize). Everything is moving toward smaller transactions. Look at video industry for example:

  1. We used to buy videos and DVD’s.
  2. Then, instead of buying, we rented them at Blockbuster one at a time.
  3. Then, instead of renting one at a time, we paid a monthly subscription and had them delivered to our house via Netflix.
  4. Then, instead of having them delivered to our house, we paid a subscription to have them streamed to our TV.

Now, let’s look at the software industry:

  1. We used to buy software at stores like CompUSA and bring it home to install on our computer.
  2. Then, rather than buying at the store, we’d have it mailed to us on DVD or we downloaded and bought a key code on the Internet.
  3. Then, rather than buying, we paid for a one year subscription to use the software whereby the installed software would require us to buy a key to keep it going.
  4. Then, we began accessing the same software over the Internet versus on our own machines, and we paid a yearly or monthly subscription.

Instead of buying hardware for our data centers, now we rent bandwidth by the minute and pay by the gigabyte following the same paradigm as in the examples above. In the data center world, continuous quality is paramount. Every minute and every gigabyte counts as part of the payment and business model. But, it’s happening all around us and not just in technology. Instead of buying a car (huge transaction) you use Uber and “pay as you go.” There are even some insurance companies offering Pay-by-the-Mile auto insurance. Why pay for insurance while your car is sitting in the driveway? Pay for what you use. 

Using an Agile methodology, the general concept is that you pay for what you use. Why not pay for a small increment at a time, and then make a decision on what will happen in the next sprint based on the current information? Current information could be a bad experience with the product or service, upon which you’ll decide not to pay again, and switch products. In Agile terms, this is called pivot.

That’s where Continuous Quality comes in, not just for software, but for all industries. Quality must be continuously delivered with each and every microtransaction. We’re not talking yearly release cycles (or yearly renewals) anymore. Microtransactions of all kinds will supersede the subscription economy, giving customers more freedom than ever before. Soon, we won’t be locked into monthly subscriptions. Pay for what you use, or pay for the value you receive.