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future of programming

Anybody out there have any insights on the what the future might bring for programmers?  Do in-house programmes have as much power as they used to?  Is the future going to be more about highly-productive small development teams and less about throw tons of people at project?  Do ERP apps like Peoplesoft and SAP foretell the death of the modern business programmer?

talented ass-clown
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Here is an interesting link:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/cmp/20031118/tc_cmp/16100697

...
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Future might bring new bugs, ideas and a couple of dollars.
My 0,00001 cents :^)

Evgeny Gesin /Javadesk/
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

I predict the future will be paved with poorly implemented purchased solutions and cycles of employee programmer staff as Glorified Software Installers (GSI  tm.). This will be supplemented with some custom solutions at the department level which eventually grow to "enterprise" need and are eventually replaced with... (see above)

In other words, business as usual. Throw in the mix of contracting resources (of any nation) to do implementations and some development jobs as they have always done. I don't honestly see this as a new era in how business solves problems with software. If anything, they are as confused now as they were ten years ago.

m
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Interesting that that article states that overall employment decreased by 16% between 2000 and 2002. And yet total unemployment is said to be only 6% right now.

Census Watcher
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Census

A lot of people, myself included have left the industry, and many more have given up looking (i.e. about 10 percent)

the artist formerly known as prince
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

HTML is the way to go.

Jacob
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

& if you havne't found a job after 6 months or something, you're not considered unemployed.


Tuesday, November 18, 2003

I believe that the article posted is extremely misleading. dndustry leaders state that there is not much use for programmers anymore after the big y2k project -- the general position of the article is that programmers are simply not needed anymore and that's just the way it is. Such a theory doesn't explain why more than half of the programming jobs have been outshored. If there is no programming work left to do because companies have all the software they could ever need, then why would they be contracting offshore for tons of programming work?

Also the program states that technologies like Java and object-oriented programming have created an environment of reusability that is so effective that programming does not to be doen much anymore -- just snap together a few object oriented modules and you are done. I am skeptical of this claim that object oriented programming has made programming so more efficient that programmers are simply not needed any more.

Critical Eye
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

"Tillman predicts it will be more likely for a CIO to come from the business-unit ranks.  'As technology changes--the hardware as well as how it's delivered to the user--the need for a technical background diminishes...' "

All *right*!  Even *pointier*-haired PHBs!

Seriously, that idea is so stupid only an executive could fall for it... yeah, *that's* what need, CIO's with even *less* of a clue...

Grumpy Old-Timer
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Oh, you think you're kidding? I have an old friend who was a corporate auditor at GE a couple decades ago, moved on to financial analyst, then finance manager at another company. He finally worked his way up to V.P. of IT at a large national HMO which I won't name. Software to him is probably a bigger mystery than cooked books are to us.

old_timer
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

"I believe that the article posted is extremely misleading. dndustry leaders state that there is not much use for programmers anymore after the big y2k project"

Thank goodness that UNIX timestamps expire in 20 years and all those systems will have to be upgraded!

Almost Anonymous
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

I still think HTML is way to go. I've found other stuff to be hard. I am good.

Jacob
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Humorous seeing packaged software such as ERP (i.e. Peoplesoft, SAP, etc) as the supposed risk to the software development field. My experience has been that the configuration and customization is an absolutely monstrous undertaking, it requires a large cadre of inhouse domain experts (who are often paid very well -- This isn't the sort of software that you can play around with at home, so there is naturally quite a barrier to entry), and in the end practical requirements mean that the custom internal enterprise apps hang around and grow around the ERP system.

ERP systems are like outsourcing - it sounds great in theory. In any case if ERP is the threat, then software developers have absolutely nothing to fear.

Having said that I truly do believe that the IT field in general is oversized and generally is far too expensive to most organizations. Couple this with the fact that it has a horrible track record of being costly and under-delivering (just as outsourcing and ERP are now doing). I just find it laughable reading this sorts of articles that are full of "experts" pimping whatever line fits their business model as it it were a subjective evaluation rather than "the ideal world for our universe"

Dennis Forbes
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Dennis:

Indeed.  Large-scale consultingware is really no better.  And what often happens is even more comical:  the large-scale software package is created, and Indian consultants are paid (with a huge markup) to come here to deploy it.

The obvious result is a clusterfuck.  First, from "business analysts" who grossly oversell the software, and then from consultants working 80-hour weeks to eventually underdeliver it.

Whether the consultants are smart or not, or whether the software is any good, it's still plagued by the same problem as before:  out-of-control, poorly-managed complexity.  Except now there's an increasing knowledge gap, where so-called "business analysts" who have, somehow, ascended to the white pearly gates, don't understand the technology (but boy do they appreciate it!).  And the technology people are, well, thousands of miles or at least a cultural barrier away.

What I would like to know is:  where does the next generation of competent IT management come from when we ship our low-level technical positions overseas?  Who is better to lead a technology company, or a division, than someone who understands software AND business?

And when I say "understands software," I mean "understands."  Not "appreciates."  I mean, understands the grit, will, determination, blood and sweat that it takes to implement a software system--even a customized, prepackaged one--and who knows why a line of code is a liability.

At any rate, it's clear these people are selling.  Everyone's selling in trend forecasts; that's why they're usually wrong.  But if this is any indication, there's going to be a huge demand for real competence in a couple of years.  Markets are contrarian to trends like that. :)

it_ranter
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Look at articles from the early 1980s about American manufacturing jobs moving overseas and you'll get virtually the same arguments you get today with white-collar work being offshored.

1. Same reasons for why it's economical to move
2. Same reasons for why it shouldn't be about economics

Pros:
- cheaper salaries make cheaper products
- lower prices better for the American consumer

Cons:
- shipping jobs overseas creates unemployment at home
- quality of American workers is superior to that abroad

Sure, there will always be stories like the Quark fiasco to grab onto. But substitute every single article on offshoring programming jobs with CNC milling, automobiles or textiles and you quicly come to the conclusion, my-oh-my-how-history-repeats-itself.

It is my opinion that this trend -- no matter what valid arguments present themselves -- will continue. There's no stopping this phenomenon.  I have nothing against our Indian friends (and eastern European, etc.). They're trying to get ahead like everyone else. This is the price we pay for a wired, global economy. The sooner we accept this fate the better.

Chi Lambda
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Manufacturing is very different from programming, when it comes to the extent to which you can offshore it.

For manufacturing, over 90% of the able-bodied population can be trained to do it in a short enough time and low enough cost.  So your labor supply is practically unlimited once you go offshore.

With programming and other skilled jobs that can be offshored, less than 5% of the population in the low-wage countries have the educational background and aptitude to perform or be quickly trained to perform any useful work.  And of that <5%, a nontrivial number of them will find jobs in developed countries, or will choose another profession altogether (doctor, etc.).

As more and more countries send programming work offshore, the demand will drive up the salaries to the point where the disparity is not great enough to make it worthwhile in most cases.  The improving economy of those countries will also increase the demand for programmers in local industries.  Indian programmer salaries have doubled in the past 5 years, and continue to increase at 14% per year.  The cost of office real estate that has sufficient infrastructure for offshore development (broadband, network wiring, etc.) is also on the rise, to the point where a square foot in Bombay is more expensive than one in Boston.

I really don't see anywhere near the proportion of programming jobs being sent abroad like the 90% of manufacturing jobs that have been sent away.  But even 20% of programming jobs leaving is high enough to create ridiculously intense competition for the remaining available jobs in the US. And some companies still will try to send 90% or more of their programming jobs offshore, even if it backfires in the long run.

T. Norman
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Indeed, comparing offshoring computer programmer (where there is a "blip" in education in India, allowing third-world prices with first-world knowledge. Quickly, however, parts of India are becoming first-world islands) with offshoring manual labour is absurd. This is especially true in that most offshored manual labour isn't their manual labourer versus ours, but rather their manual labour versus our automation, and even then the manual labour is just a short term thing.

Personally I think the reason why it seems that about 99% of goods in the local Walmart are made in China has more to do with Chinese environmental laws (or lack thereof), as most of the goods are created almost entirely by automation, so the physical location means little (apart from tax rates, but that's offset by shipping) - we tend to be rather sensitive about giant plastic plants dumping carcinogens into our waterways, etc.

Dennis Forbes
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Ultimately, the same thing that enabled first-world corporations to send programming work anywhere in the world will also significantly increase the cost of doing so.  That is because the workers and companies in the low-wage countries will find themselves able to *accept* work coming from anywhere.

And unlike the $2/day manufacturing jobs, the employers won't be able to find 5 workers ready to replace each worker who isn't satisfied with the dirt wages.  The programmers in India and Eastern Europe have much more global and local mobility than the $2/day factory workers, and are more likely to be able to set up their own companies so they can get a bigger piece of the pie for themselves (especially the Indians who returned from the US or Europe with tens of thousands of dollars or euros in savings).

Still, 10-20% of programming jobs leaving the US is not unlikely, and until the unfortunate 10-20% gives up looking for something else, job searches for all (unemployed or not) will be nightmarish.

T. Norman
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

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