‘Tis the season to make unsupportable predictions for the future. Despite my prior record (and I remain surprised that we don’t yet have personal jet packs) I’d still like to share a long-range weather forecast for the software industry.
You’ve been warned. From here on, you’re on your own.
Prediction 1: Everyone Will Claim They Are Agile
And 50% of them will be wrong, just based on the Nokia test. And of the rest, half won’t get any value from it.
There are a lot, and here I really need to underline a lot, of bad development practices out there. For every organization that is killing it with Agile, there are five (my agilesta friends say ten) organizations that are limping along, delivering buggy code to their customers, late, and missing committed functionality. And often all three.
This “Going Agile Without Knowing How” problem is probably an inevitable result of the success the early-adopter teams had with Agile methods. For instance, when I watch The Olympics, figure skaters make skating look effortless. When I do it, I look like a drunken hippo and hurt my butt. It’s hard to stop and remember that these athletes, in addition to good genetics, spent years at the rink with their coaches learning, trying, failing, and improving, before they got in front of the TV cameras.
Agile has crossed the chasm, and the great majority of organizations have too few people, with too little coaching, and hardly any tooling. Sure, your boss doesn’t realize how useless your stand-up meetings are, or that your code isn’t fully tested at the end of a sprint, but she’ll eventually see that your customers are not happy.
Prediction 2: Development for Mobile Devices Will Still be Small
Yes, Mobile is really big, and moving fast. It’s just that the great majority of the work to support useful mobile apps remains in the back office. When we’re finished inventing new ways to swipe our coffee-stained fingers across our screens, the value of the great majority of our apps is back in the glass house, running Java and C++ on big ‘ole honking (virtualized) servers.
The development problem in the era of proliferating small platforms, remains the problem of dealing with large, complex, data and it’s interactions.
Sleep well, Larry Ellison.
Prediction 3: The Gap Between Pros And Amateurs Will Grow
Every new software technology “spike” rewards the early adopters with higher productivity, which can level the playing field for the “newbie” or occasional software developer. But as application complexity grows, as the platforms become more complex and development environments become richer, the professional advantage becomes more significant.
There isn’t much of a disadvantage in time-to-market for the young developer, maybe working on his laptop with open source tools and no identifiable process. The difference between them and a team of experienced professionals, working with industrial strength tools and procedures, and building apps that run businesses on virtualized hardware in a web connected world, is in “value created.”
Created Value is a concept that we’ve all been learning during the past ten years of Agile evangelism. Created Value is measured at the customer side, and primarily by the classic metrics of software: how does the software help me get my job done better and faster?
There was a time when the lowest cost labour source for a software project was the key criteria. Over the past two years, software projects have been revisiting their decisions as they’ve seen the crippling effects of buggy, unmaintainable, badly architected products. We’ve seen the evidence with a hiring boom in the US for developers and QA alike.
In short, in 2012, we’ll see a renewed focus on quality of development, over quantity. And a better appreciation for the talent, tools, and techniques, that create it.