In Secrets of Software Success, Detlev Hoch, with Cyriac Roeding, Gert Purkert, and Sandro Lindner, look at what's driving the prosperity of the world's best software companies and what's responsible for the failure of others. The authors, who are consultants with McKinsey & Co. in Germany, visited nearly 100 software firms around the globe and conducted 450 in-depth interviews with executives. The result is a book loaded with sharp insights and colorful anecdotes from leaders of companies such as Microsoft Germany, Keane Inc., BroadVision, Andersen Consulting, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and Navision in Denmark. "The opportunities for success in this industry remain strong," they conclude. "But the price of change brings new challenges and uncertainties. Neglecting these challenges could be a deadly mistake: Falling behind in the software industry, after all, almost certainly means failure."
In separate chapters, the authors examine the importance of leadership, the keys to developing and marketing software, winning the war for software talent, cementing partnerships for growth, and the shape of the future of this rapidly changing industry. Some of their findings are contrary to common belief. For example, software developers' and managers' disdain for rigid procedures is well known, but what the authors find is that morale and creativity actually rise with tighter rules that create better products and cut development time. Other conclusions are reinforcing; for example, the most successful companies team up with four times as many other firms as the less successful ones. Written in a lively, conversational style, Secrets of Software Success should be on the bookshelf of anyone connected to the software business. --Dan Ring