Are we coming to the end of the hand crafted era of software development? Pegasystem’s Alan Trefler thinks so.
“Technology has completely dis-served the modern economy;” Alan Trefler, the founder and CEO of software vendor Pega Systems, told the audience at the opening of his company’s new office in Sydney yesterday.
Trefler sees there being an ‘execution gap’ between what software promises and actually delivers; that development is too slow and programs don’t give users what they need.
Ending the hand crafted software era
A key reason for this in Trefler’s view is that too much software is ‘hand crafted’ and that his company’s object orientated methods speeds up development time and delivers a better product.
This may well be true, Pegasoftware’s client list is impressive, however moving from the age of ‘hand crafted software’ may well spell the end of many IT industry worker’s careers.
One of Pegasystem’s key Australian customers is the Commonwealth Bank and the company’s CIO, Michael Harte, gave some comments at the opening that illustrated how the software industry is changing.
Freeing up resources
“Does an IT organisation want to change fast enough to adopt a new model driven approach so they can free up capital and free up resources?” Harte asked.
That freeing up resources and capital is exactly what befell the Luddites when the 18th Century mill owners decided to change the technology they used.
For modern IT workers, the last decade has been tough as a whole generation of business analysts, software engineers and project managers have found the enterprise computing industry has been offshored and automated; Harte and Trefler are describing how that process is by no means over.
“Older project models necessitated people to build a use case and then to design something, go through requirements and start crafting software, that’s on old idea,” says Harte who sees a model orientated approach as being more effective for modern enterprises.
Let the machines do the grunt work
That’s not to say that either men are pessimistic about the future of the software industry; both see an improved industry delivering better results for business.
“Let’s move people into higher order things and allow the machines to do the grunt work,” Harte urges.
“Not that long ago when I was learning how to do this stuff we’d have to fill in punch cards and then fill in Word Documents to write out technical requirement, that’s not much fun.”
“Lets have some fun and get some work done.”
Harte is describing a very different IT industry and workplace, one that doesn’t need older skills and – more importantly – doesn’t need as many clerks or middle managers carrying out routine administrative tasks.
It should be noted that both Harte and Trefler were adamant that their visions did not mean job losses when asked by this writer about the employment consequences, but it’s impossible not to come to the conclusion that a fundamental industry change means many skill sets become redundant – again this is what happened to the Luddites in the 18th Century fabric mills.
“What we think the next ten years are going to be about is changing those metaphors,” says Trefler. “There can be a more highly evolved communication between IT and business folk.”
Both Trefler and Harte see design as the future of software with most of the human work being in creating the interfaces that work for the people using the computers, this is where the high level, high value work is to be done.
The changes that Pegasystems are describing is not just an IT industry issue; these are changes that are happening across the workforce and in all sectors. For both managers and workers, it’s a time to refresh skillsets and understand where the value lies in what they do.
Many industries have products handmade by skilled tradesfolk become a thing of the past, it now appears the time has come for the IT industry’s craftsmen and women.