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5 Links for Developers and IT Pros 5-11-12

5 5 11 12It's Friday and that means it's time for our weekly feature where we search the Web looking for 5 interesting, funny and poignant links for developers and IT Pros.

If you missed our other post this week, The Changing Face of Enterprise Software, please check it out. The ways we are buying, developing and using software are changing and this post looks at some of the trends driving that change.

Please consider subscribing if you like what you see here, and if you have something to say, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think.

And without further delay, here we go with this week's links:

Big Data Vendor Roundup | CIO Update

All you hear these days is Big Data this and Big Data that. It's marketing's favorite new buzz word and you have a right to be leery, but don't forget behind every buzzword is a real trend and this article takes a look at some of the vendors and what they really have to offer.

Want good programmers? Then PAY them. |

There's a simple law of supply and demand. If programmers are in demand, it means the going rate should go up, but for some reason that's not happening everywhere. If you want to solve your programming shortage, seems simple enough. Pay them!

Is Microsoft blocking Chrome and Firefox from native Windows RT a big deal? | ZDNet

On its face, a company that once got in serious trouble for giving preference to its own browser over the competition probably shouldn't do it again in a new context. In a world of heightened browser competition, even more so, but this is Windows RT is for tablets where Microsoft barely has marketshare, never mind a monopoly and that's the big difference.

16 Questions to Ask Mobile App Developers  | Input Output

There's a lot of folks out there claiming they are mobile developers, but how do you find the really good ones? This articles gives you a list of crucial questions you want to ask when you're hiring your next mobile app developer.

Meet Silk, the Semantic Web for the rest of us | GigaOM

Tim Berners-Lee designed the page-based web, but for years he's been trying to drag us into developing the semantic one. Trouble is, it's a lot more complicated than connecting pages, even if it's much more useful to connect data. Silk is a new search tool that's supposed to take advantage of semantic underpinnings to help you answer questions instead of just finding results based on a few keywords. Looks interesting.

Photo by Tomma Henckel Used under Creative Commons Share Alike/Attribution License.

The Talent Factor in Software Development


As we've discussed previously, the key to successful software development rests not with your methodologies or your technologies, but with your people.

Knowledge. Experience. Commitment to Quality. Willingness to Collaborate. These aren't things you buy or rent. They are human attributes. And the only way for your organization to enjoy their benefits (innovation, insight, intelligence) is to cultivate and maintain relationships with the humans who possess them.

Unfortunately, when trying to maximize efficiency (and control costs) in complex undertakings (such as the creation and distribution of software products), it's all too easy for us to reduce, at least conceptually, the people on whom we rely to a set of functions or abilities. This might make sense from a systems management standpoint, but not from a people management standpoint. 

I was reminded of this point when reading a recent blog post by Glenn Gruber, "The Fallacy of Software Factories and the Importance of Talent." Glenn covers a lot of ground in this post but his basic message is simple: Exceptional talent is critical to software development but it is often treated as a resource or, as he puts it, "fungible asset."

One result is the mistaken attempt to Taylorize software development and create "software factories." Glenn says this about that:

Nowhere has this approach towards trying to create software factories been more pronounced than in the IT outsourcing business.  That’s because under the traditional outsourcing model success (i.e. margins) is achieved by trying to break any task down into its most basic components so that those activities can be completed by the most junior and cheapest resources (there’s that word again).

Of course, Glenn adds, one can realize increased productivity and cost savings with this approach to software development. However, it won't "guarantee well-written, high-performance software." For that, of course, you need talented people who are actually capable of producing it.

I think there is another lesson here as well, and that involves the approach to outsourcing. If you chop development projects into chunks and throw the "easy stuff" over the wall to Eastern Europe or India or whereever, you relegate these developers to the status of a resource. Not only will this approach fail to engage them in the achievement of your business goals, it also fails to tap into the full range of their capabilities.

If, on the other hand, you partner with experienced developers around the globe, and invite them to contribute their expertise at every level of the development process, you'll find that talent is not just a cost of doing business, it's an active factor in your success.

Power to the People


"The power of passion far exceeds contractual obligation and you can take my word for it!" - Raja Nagarajan

One might assume that successful software development, thanks no doubt to the highly technical nature of the discipline, depends above all else on something technical. This is not the case.

Successful software development depends on people. Not only that, it depends less on their technical skills, in the long run, than on their people skills.

Actually, it goes deeper than that. Sure, people skills - the ability to communicate; the ability to plan and design; the ability to think and persuade and inspire - matter. But what matters more is that the people involved behave like, well, people.

How do people behave? People care. People get excited. People get invested in things. People become impassioned.

When people care, when they get invested at a personal level, they take things seriously. What happens next, the outcome of their actions, really begins to mean something.

And ultimately, when you are working with someone, when you are collaborating with them on a complex software product, for example, isn't that how you want them to think, feel and act? You want them to care; you want them to be invested; you want them to want the outcome as much as you do.

Now, we could point you to studies by McKinsey and A.T. Kearney and all the rest to show why performance management and a focus on people as people can pay big dividends.

We could also point you to our white paper, "Mastering the Art of Globalizing Software R&D," that addresses this issue in some detail. There you can read all about the importance of fostering executive buy-in, of enabling frequent and ongoing communication, of eliminating (corporate) cultural barriers in support of a "one company" approach, and of recognizing that your team is not a cost but an asset.

Finally, we could regale you with stories from our years of collaboration with companies like PayPal, Pearson Learning, Business Objects and others to demonstrate that this "people first" philosophy is the best way to globalize software development.

Of course then it would seem like we were trying to pitch you or sell to you. In other words, we'd be treating you like a "prospect," rather than a person.

So, instead, having stated our view, we'll simply ask, "What do you think?"
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