Archive for August, 2009

What will happen to the in-house IT professional?

August 25, 2009

The new generation of all-knowing users are the future of your IT department, using development tools – such as spreadsheet macros, process models and collaborative wikis – to create winning applications.

As a recent Forrester report suggests (see further reading, below), such business people do not want to be developers; they just want to get things done. And in a new age of collaboration and consumerisation, taking development into your own hands is sometimes seen as the quickest route to usable apps – especially in a slow-moving corporate leviathan.

It sounds like a double-headed winner: businesses get to implement software quicker and users get the applications they need. But not everyone is smiling. After all, what does the rise of end-user development mean for existing IT professionals?

The simple answer is professionalism. While it is great that users can help the business create the applications they need, such users are unlikely to be skilled technology experts.

Just like ‘Sunday morning mechanics’ can run a simple oil change for their car on the drive way, significant problems and modifications are likely to require the skilled intervention of a specialist engineer.

As the Forrester report suggests, end-user enthusiasm can lead to poorly designed, insecure and unscalable applications. The problem is then inherited by the application development professionals, who are left to pick up the pieces of bad business practice.

Do not let it get to this stage. Continue to embrace end-user development because your internal customers know what tools they need and their interaction with collaborative technology means they are only likely to become more IT-savvy.

Rather than letting users develop applications in isolation, IT professionals should take on a new management role, helping end-users to hone their contributions so that the business receives usable and scalable applications.

IT professionals have untapped skills, such as the ability to understand the technical rules that underlie business processes. Marrying such professionals with end-users will allow line-of-business employees to work with freedom and without fear of compromising established best practice.

In short, technology professionals need not fear the upsurge of non-technical development. Well-schooled end-users will allow for the development of technical tools that hold real value for the business.

The process will also allow IT professionals to engage with individuals across the company and prove the benefits of the much-maligned technology organisation.

Despite the rise of end-user development, the role of talented technology professional is more indispensable than ever.

 

Further reading

 http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/Excerpt/0,7211,54191,00.html


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Making BrITain Great Again

August 5, 2009

Making BrITain Great Again – Well done Stephen Kelly of Microfocus for putting his foot forward for IT in the UK ! At last some recognition that IT has a key role in growing our economy and that we should not resolve ourselves to losing such an important skill set to the rest of the world. The industry needs to embrace this opportunity with two hands and support this initiative as some politicians have. What is good about this manifesto is that it start at the grass roots of bringing more skilled professional through academia into the industry right through to startups and at the very top level the role of large IT companies. Some of my observations from speaking to our “target market”: Students selecting a career still perceive IT as a “geek” career whilst the biggest shortfall is in people that can translate business into IT solutions. This is a role that requires both business awareness and IT awareness, people in these roles are typically paid a premium and a role that is not normally offshored or outsourced. Manchester University has recognized this and created a combined business / IT course, but more has to be done about raising awareness. In the world of startups these companies rely on venture capital at all stages of their growth. However many Venture Companies actively encourage the outsourcing of product development to ensure their “investment” is being spent wisely. Enhancing the government R&D Tax Credit and making it easier for IT Companies would make a positive difference to relying solely on venture capital. Speaking to a number of startups often the barrier to the R&D Tax Credit being claimed is the simple definition of “innovation”. Questions should be asked as to why VC’s are more risk averse in the UK than the USA and what can be done about this? The manifesto also addresses one of the key issues of “growth”. We have great software innovations here but crossing the pond generally spells the end for many of these companies are they exhaust their hard earned venture capital and profits in trying to break out of the UK. We have to look at more ways we can help companies become global successes, afterall you can only name less than half a dozen companies in the UK that can claim Global success.


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