Macro Trends in the Tech Industry
The ThoughtWorks Technology Radar identifies a number of themes in each edition, but tends to be focused on fairly specific recommendations. But the discussions we have as we decide on those recommendations typically hint at larger things happening in the tech industry. So here, I’ll expand on that bigger picture. Remote-everything, for the foreseeable future Like me, you’re probably exhausted reading overwrought pandemic-related commentary. But the implications of COVID-19 for the tech industry are large and things won’t ever return to the way they were before this crisis. Here are what I consider the most important facts and likely changes. Those of us in the software industry are well placed to deal with working from home, but are not immune to the realities of closed schools, unavailable childcare and general pandemic-induced stresses. It’s especially important to be tolerant of individual circumstances as not everyone is lucky enough to have a well-appointed home office or children who are able to take care of themselves. In the first few weeks there was a scramble for basic infrastructure, access and tooling but the basics are all in place now. Remote collaboration is moving from “can we even do this?” to “what is the right way to do this?” and there’s a lot to be learned here. Many people are realizing that being on video all day is draining, and that translating in-person collaboration techniques directly into the digital world isn’t very effective. Instead, we all must think carefully about when teams should be online, when asynchronous collaboration can be used instead, and which digital facilitation tools work best for our context. We produced the Radar remotely due to the pandemic and learnt a lot in the process; if you’re interested in learning more we recorded a detailed podcast on our experiences. ThoughtWorks is a strong advocate of pair programming, and we’ve blipped “pragmatic remote pairing” in this edition of the Radar. In short, pairing can absolutely be done in a remote-only world but you have to be sensible about tools, bandwidth and time zones. The pandemic has shown every CIO the cracks in his or her digital infrastructure, whether that’s resiliency and scaling as customers moved online, or the ability to rapidly make changes, add features and get them into production. Most organizations have realized the inconvenient truth: they’re way behind the state of the art and are struggling to do “digital transformation” (whatever that means) to catch up. As a consultancy, we have a fairly broad view across the industry and some of the changes have been quite positive. Clients that previously said “you must work in the office on our hardware” have relaxed their stance. In-person time has been replaced by virtual face-to-face time. In some cases this is a massive benefit: our clients can tap into a global network of experts and it doesn’t matter where that person is located (modulo time zones, of course). What’s interesting is that although in theory our clients could have accessed these people pre-pandemic, there’s much less of a barrier to doing so right now. There’s zero expectation someone will show up in person, so there’s no reluctance on our part to propose a non-local expert to help a client. I’m hopeful that across the industry we can all do more remote work in future rather than getting on airplanes all the time. Prof. Tom Malone (MIT) believes that the current crisis has accelerated us forwards a decade in terms of acceptance of remote working, » Read More
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