Pandora is, for those of us who don't know, awesome. It's an online service that allows you to type in a band or song that you enjoy, and it creates a radio station around that choice using algorithms around sound, vocal style, and type of musical style. The people behind this company are quick on their feet when it comes to implementing changes and addressing issues, as illustrated in this article by Nick Freedman. Freedman had a chance to talk with Tom Conrad, CTO & Executive Vice President of Product at Pandora. Conrad's use of agile planning and development was the focus of the conversation. However, when it came down to what Conrad believed was the most influential development in the “IT revolution” of the past few decades; he didn't cite laptop computers or the internet. Conrad says it was how code software is written, which Freedman picked up on as important to note:
This is, in my view, an important insight; as critical as new hardware, software, and connectivity technologies have been to the IT revolution, none of these developments have been as meaningful as the migration to more iterative, collaborative, and change-friendly development techniques. I'm in vehement agreement with Tom on this point; these new development approaches have enabled the rapid, responsive release of products that solve customer and consumer problems, and that have facilitated the evolutionary release cycle we've all become accustomed to, with new iPads and iPhones, new versions of cloud-based software, and new generations of digital cameras and microprocessors every few months. While many of these new capabilities are delivered in hardware, they're based on software, and iterative, incremental evolution focused on the needs of the marketplace has been the real enabling technology of the revolution.
The conversation goes on to highlight how Pandora came to use agile and how it's refined that use to fit the changing market and needs of its customers. As Freedman explains, Pandora's planning process is more agile and iterative than many other corporations attempt ““ and Pandora does it successfully. The size of each project is small enough that each one can be given the attention it needs to be moved to the next step of the development cycle or be shut down (saving time, money, and effort).