The latest Avengers movie was a huge success and it is safe to say Marvel Cinematic Universe will reach greater heights with their forthcoming ventures. As the release date got closer there were a bunch of youtube videos that ran a short version of all movies leading up to the Infinity war, I couldn’t help but recognize how big of a project management success it was.
There are a lot of easter eggs for the software industry in the model MCU adopted en route to a great success.
Everyone’s gotta start somewhere
Marvel was at the brink of bankruptcy when they decided to do their first Avengers related superhero movie in 2007-08. They were financially compromised and had to sell rights to few of their superhero characters to stay afloat. They led MCU campaign with “Iron Man” a stand alone superhero movie which, if we are being honest was not the coolest superhero in the comics. However, this test to gauge the audience’s acceptance paid off huge dividends as it turned out to be a crowd pleaser and gave MCU the best possible launchpad for success.
In Software development, professionals have a tendency to overthink or try to conceptualize the entire solution at the beginning, which doesn’t allow them to start building, but rather causes them to spend countless hours on business analysis and planning. It is also not easy for companies “especially startups”, to pursue huge capital intensive projects. An example that comes to mind is Open Distributed Energy Management (OpenDEM), whose project team faced a similar roadblock and successfully overcame it with an approach similar to what MCU used.
OpenDEM started with a vision of harnessing solar energy, utilizing smart grids and building sensor equipment for efficient energy usage. The project was ambitious, capital intensive and had ways to go before it caught the upswing. The fact that it was competing with the likes of Nest didn’t make it any easier. However, OpenDEM started out by signing up to build an energy monitoring app and dashboards for the energy management systems of Historic Green village. This relatively small project put them on the map and was very well received and recognized by the industry peers earning them projects with Sweden based GLAVA and American company SunSpec. Now they are on their way, steadily moving towards their vision of solar energy and smart grids.
Keep it extremely modular
Marvel always knew Avengers is going to be their big ticket item but that did not stop them from raking in huge profits from the other superhero movies. MCU was compulsively modular in their approach. Each superhero is his/her own and yet, part of a bigger picture.
Software development and architecture has always had this method close to its heart. Modularity has always been a significant influence in conceptualizing design and will continue to grow in the coming years with the rise of open source software like KeePass, VLC media player, Shortcut etc. and modular mobile phones like the project ARA brewing under Google. The fact that the millennials and the future generations are going to be tech savvy and are always on the lookout for instant upgrades, makes it all the more important to exhibit modularity in system design. Marvel Cinematic Universe is a live example for it.
Another important aspect of the modular philosophy is to design systems that play well with others. Maybe, one day we will get to see the Justice League and Avengers on the same screen together, fingers crossed.
Spinoff’s on the success stories
One of the greatest things that Marvel pulled off was being able to do both the bottom up and top down approach very efficiently. The bottom up approach has already been discussed here, However, The examples of top down approach here are the well known Black Panther spinoff and the acclaimed Agents of Shield TV series.
In the software industry, there is a lot of enterprise wide, full solutions and software. These solutions often have features which are stellar and might have a market of their own, but there have not been many instances where there have been spinoffs on smaller features in a software. There are a few projects that have identified such features, an example would be eTeki an interviewing platform which is an end to end online solution for technical interviews comprising of various features like a video platform with a whiteboard editor, code editor, scheduling etc. However, eTeki recently had added a feature “interview builder” to help their interviewers prepare for the interviews. Though initially was thought to be a small part. It was soon realized that a similar tool for technical managers and interviewers at private companies could be very useful. Development is underway to make the interview builder its own tool and app. This bodes well in both generating, revenue and interest in the eTeki interviewing platform.
Together, any hurdle can be overcome
This might not sound accurate, with how the events unfolded in Infinity Wars but we all know Captain Marvel is on her way. The parallel to be drawn here for the Tech industry is a way in which a comprehensive industry solution can be assembled. Except for Thanos (who will soon be defeated as well) all the other supervillains of the Marvel cinematic universe were defeated by the Avengers.
This can be compared to the humble beginnings of Netsuite who started out as Netledger way back in the day, as a solution for accounting in an enterprise and have established themselves as the number one cloud based ERP solution in the world Today. They had mergers and additional development along the way aiding the process. Now, together they are able to provide a one stop solution for all ERP needs of an organization with a modular design letting clients chose the pieces they require. Netsuite also integrates seamlessly with third-party specialized industry solution. This caveat of playing well with other systems mentioned in one of the previous sections is a significant contributor to their placement on the perch.