My Predictions for Developers in 2015

Its January 1, 2015 and there are predictions everywhere. Here is a list of my predictions for 2015 (some of them might sound like my wishlist but nevertheless I believe in them and think that this year should see them strengthen). I have kept my predictions around the software industry in general since I am not in a position to try to predict other world events.

Each of the items are in no order of preference  / importance (or shall I say likelihood of them happening 😉 ) I have tried to keep the discussion down to general topics that concern the industry rather than play around with specific technologies or predict if Tech A is going to win over Tech B.

The “Give” movement

This year people in the software industry should realize more that sound judgement calls for each one of us (especially the experienced professionals) to “give” more rather than “take”. Don’t treat each interaction as a exchange or tit-for-tat. As you experience, pass on your chops , both technical and managerial to the next set of folks or even among your peers. “Good guys do not finish last” as far as my book goes. The industry is at a very interesting stage where it is just impossible to learn everything. The best way to stay relevant is to share information among peer groups, communities and more. I expect focused communities to strengthen throughout the year.

What is a degree worth?

This year we shall see a consolidation where individuals will start realizing that the cost of a degree is not worth it any more. For most of us, a degree is a means to an end. And when that means is being put out of bounds for most people, it stops making sense any more. Just look at the cost of a post-graduate degree in some of top institutions. I am not against further education but at what cost? If your parents can afford you an education like that, go for it with all purpose but when the fees are being met by taking on a large debt, the pressure to recover it fast is becoming troublesome for most of us. I am firmly of the opinion that spending 50 lakhs – 1 crore for further education is not worth it at all for most of us. More of us should realize that this year and more than us, the students and their parents should accept this. To hell with peer pressure, use your brains.

The move against pure non-technical folks strengthens

For anyone working in a technical role (especially in software organizations), it is no surprise that all technical folks call the non-technical folks idiots, bottlenecks and many other words. If you disagree with that statement, you are a liar. And if as a manager, you have not heard it, it is either because you are deaf or refuse to hear the music. “The Emperor *really* has no clothes on”. Organizations should start realizing and more this year that it is time to ask them to shape up, help the team or simply move on. No one is talking about writing code and granted that there is a need for pure managerial kinds but when everyone who gains experience is going to lie around and just take status without contributing in little ways to the technical direction, it is time to do something about it. Hopefully this year will see more layoffs of this kind. “The last one to come in the door will not and should not be the first one to go out of the door”.

Schools should start looking at current curriculum

The current curriculum in most schools is a bit of a mess. The process to change this overnight is not an easy one and even with best of intents, it could take time. We should see more schools taking the lead in introducing classes that bring more relevant and practical course intent via parallel classes. The same applies to Engineering courses. You cannot have employees “Dead on Arrival” when they take up their first job. This year should see schools increasingly take up parallel and relevant classes and students in Engineering taking the route of MOOCs to get themselves ready.

Soon to be graduates realize the meaning of a Community Resume

A resume can be as good as you want it to be. But it does not cut it anymore. Not the least in the software industry. One of the things that I learnt from Google is the importance of a community resume. A community resume can be one or more of the following : a blog, your open source projects, forum posts, community talks, applications published in mobile stores and more. You get the drift. Give something that shows potential employers what you are doing, what can be immediately validated and is real. And doing this a year or two in advance before you graduate will lend you a great job. “Your ideal job needs to come to you, it is not one which you apply to”. That should be the goal of every graduate. I see more of this happening this year.

The “Open Data” movement

We should see opening up of more data by civic/government agencies. Granted some data could be controversial but there is a lot more that can be opened up to the general developer community across India. And why only Indian developers? I believe the kind of data that India can provide to the world will salivate enough of developers all across the world to do something with the data.  I think this one might not come true but I hope to be proved wrong.

Ahoy! Polyglots ahead !

More developers should be picking up another language / framework this year. They have no choice really. And it makes perfect sense to learn “that language” that has always been on your ToDo list for some time now. Throw aside all your apprehensions, embrace new languages / frameworks – and you will not just widen your horizons but inculcate the habit of learning and get your brained attuned to learning stuff. Those who stop learning will get more irrelevant in the coming year.

Training needs a transformation

The traditional way of getting external folks to come and conduct training for your team is not going to work. Come the new week and they are working on their existing job and the training has been forgotten. Organizations will increasingly realize that in addition to external training, they will need to make use of multiple training fronts like: MOOCs, Peer Study Groups, Build Proof of Concepts, Train the Trainers and more. And it has to be year round. Reacting to every training need is only going to get you so far, what is needed is a culture that encourages constant learning/sharing that makes your training that much easier.

Look … Clouds ahead !

The Cloud need not be just for startups and forward -thinking organizations. The movement to the cloud should consolidate this year even among small organizations. Take the plunge ! Throw that traditional IT and Systems department out of your window. Do your homework and move to the cloud. You get speed, cost savings, flexibility and security (yes … you read that right!) that your traditional approach just cannot provide.

The Full Stack

More developers will realize the need to understand the full stack. You cannot just say that you are a Database person, a UI person and pretend not to bother about other layers in your overall application. You need to understand what is going on, better still be able to understand the code that is going across end to end. This will be a valuable skill for developers and prospective employers to consider this year.

A startup is your best bet

If you want to learn, a startup is where you should be. A startup is not necessary a few folks who want to change the world via the product. I am talking about the mentality over here and several large organizations can also function where teams are given the space to bring about ideas to reality. As more stories come through from their seniors about their journey through Startup land, graduates will increasingly opt for them rather than pure IT Service organizations, where it is difficult to get that sort of experience. The risks are absolutely minimal when you have just graduated and I believe this year will see that thought process consolidate more among students waiting to graduate. If that happens (and which it will) – that will mean a lot to countries like India. With a much more encouraging climate with VCs, incubators, startup accelerators – the time has never looked brighter to take that idea to its next logical step.

Summary

If you conclude that there is nothing unique about my points, I actually agree with you. I was only talking about what makes sense for all of us in the developer community this year.

Like I always say to anyone “This year is the best one for a software developer”. This is true of 2015 and will be for every single year in the near and long term. Huge opportunities everywhere – keep learning, stay focused. That is the best way to intercept those opportunities when they come passing by….

 

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