Ignore Disruptive Technologies At Your Own Peril

As we pile on the years in our software development career, we tend to dismiss new technologies / languages / frameworks more easily. It is partly due to our familiarity with the old, our fear for the new order and many other reasons. Continuing to do that is a sure path to rendering us unable to come to grasps with the massive churning that the software development industry is going through right now.

I read a great article today titled “Should JavaScript devs build real things“. It is an eye opener around the frontiers that JavaScript is being used at. Such stuff would have been impossible to imagine a few months back and thought of as being insane, a few years back.

The article brought into focus a relevant gist of why we cannot afford to ignore the new stuff happening around us. This is the truth, formalized by Clayton Christensen in his seminal book “The Innovators Dilemma“. If you haven’t read the book, check it out.

I reproduce the gist from the article:

  • A new tech comes along and it’s cheap but it doesn’t do everything a more mature tech can do.
  • The incumbents write it off for lack of comparability, usually saying “no one would use that – it doesn’t do x, y, z”.
  • Over time, users of the new technology get involved with its direction and the features they need to make it better get added – usually at a considerably reduced price and they get the benefit of learning from all the implementations that came before.
  • Eventually the upstarts take large swathes of the market, seemingly overnight, and the incumbents are left with husks of their former positions – often unable to explain how they got to that point and were unable to see the threat.

Very true .. isn’t it ? We have seen it so many times. And it is the only reason why I love being in the software development industry.

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