Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Less reinventing wheels, more innovation?

90% of programming is for back-end systems rather than products (90% in a placeholder for "the vast majority").

Open Source is making inroads within corporates.

Companies like saleforce.com are bringing web-based CRM to the masses. (customer relationship management systems)

More back-end systems, currently implemented over and over again, will be commoditised and bought-in by companies.

Who feels that fewer developers will be writing CRM back-ends in the future? Will companies get more innovative? Or will it be still down to the few? While the rest maintain the skills gap?

CdR
Friday, March 29, 2002

My company builds complex accounting systems.  On the surface, this would seems like a one size-fits all type of market.  In some ways, that's true.  However, there are often unique needs that can't be met by a generic system, so the whole system ends up being customized.  For example:

Off the shelf AR:  Yup, that works.
Off the shelf AP:  Yup, that works.
Off the shelf Payroll:  Yeah, that'd be okay.
Off the shelf Billing:  No way, our business doesn't fit that.

So, all four modules end up being written custom for the company.  In an ideal world, that wouldn't happen and we would tie our Billing system to someone elses AR via XML or some such, but in reality, this dream isn't any closer than it's been in the past.

The alternative is Open Source.  If this takes off, we'll all be minting money as "customization consultants", which will be the gig that never ends...

Bill Carlson
Friday, March 29, 2002

Will companies get more innovative? Or will it be still down to the few? While the rest maintain the skills gap?

Companies do not innovate. They need to cover their ass. It's small companis or independents that innovate and then get bought by large companies. It's always been this way in every industry; I do not see why it would change now.

Mr. Orange
Friday, March 29, 2002

Innovation is over-rated. Execution is what matters. See Microsoft.

pb
Saturday, March 30, 2002

One important factor is that expectation levels keep rising.

There are continual improvements in the hardware, languages, libraries, tools, etc. However, customers expect their software to be of much higher quality than a decade ago. Everything must have a snazzy GUI, be web enabled, etc.

As a result, projects are becoming more challenging, despite (or because of) all of the new resources that are available. There's always going to be a lot of work to do, since the goals are always advancing.

Jared Levy
Saturday, March 30, 2002

If you hire someone to solve a problem for you, be it install a new system you can't do yourself, build a wall around your garden, service your car, etc, you don't care how much they innovate you care that they solve your problem.

Blindingly obvious, I know, but far too many people seem to still manage to forget it!

If you hired someone to "innovate" for you, how would you measure it to ensure you were getting value for money? What's the industry standard method for measuring amount of innovation per hour / lines of code?

If you hire someone to solve a problem for you, that's easy to measure. Their solution either works or it don't. If you are more concerned with how well it innovates than you are with how well it solves your problem, then you are either crazy or you don't live in the real world.

Robert Moir
Saturday, March 30, 2002

pb, I think Microsoft would agree that innovation is useful.  After all, they consume a lot of innovations.

But if you're a businessperson, then you want others to pay the price of R&D, so you can steal it.  It's mindboggling how much every new search engine looks like Google, and how everyone's text ads appear the same.  And like only 1% of the imitators understand what it really means.  Same with Apple imitators -- they make things that look similar, but they didn't learn the design that made the appearance shine through.

Richard J.
Tuesday, April 02, 2002

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home