Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Adam Lashinsky
December 7, 2015

I have quibbled with the assertion that every company is a technology company, noting that every great enterprise has embraced the latest methods and techniques to get ahead of the competition. What I’m coming to understand is that in order for a company to be relevant these days, it must have a major commitment to software. And that’s new, a confluence of multiple trends from organizational structure to talent management.

As an example, consider the penetration into the industrial economy of the collaboration software company GitHub, based in San Francisco. GitHub provides a radically new way for programmers to communicate with each other and also a platform for them to share appropriate examples of their work with programmers outside their companies. It’s part of what GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath calls a “post-career world.” Programmers want to work together on their company’s projects and to be known to their fellow programmers. GitHub offers them a way to do both. “GitHub was designed for the whole world and scales down to the single team,” Wanstrath says.

The “whole world” is a reference to the open-source software community, which pools its code to help each other. Remarkably, software groups at big companies are using GitHub. That includes teams at Target, John Deere, and GE, the company says. GitHub charges users for their private collaborations while keeping their open-source sharing free. A few years ago it created an enterprise version. Venture heavyweights Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital are two of the company’s biggest backers.

 

An even newer software company is targeting a similar market. Seerene, a spinoff of the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany, a science university started by the SAP founder, is selling a software analysis tool to big companies. “Our software allows users to analyze how their software is being deployed,” says Oliver Muhr, Seerene’s CEO. He says understanding how software from all over the company is used yields quick efficiency gains and any company with a corporate software development effort stands to benefit.

On Tuesday, Seerene will announce a $5 million investment from Earlybird, a venture firm based in Berlin. Muhr’s goal for the cash is to expand Seerene’s user base beyond the European industrial giants that are its first users.

In separate interviews on successive days in San Francisco last week the CEOs of GitHub and Seerene told me their company’s products eventually will help other CEOs—including those with no technical background—understand the effectiveness of their company’s software projects. That’s cool. And important too.

This article first appeared in the daily Fortune newsletter Data Sheet. Subscribe here for a daily dose of analysis from Adam Lashinsky and a curation of the day’s technology news from Heather Clancy.

 

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