Friday, November 6, 2020

The Deliverable

IT Boom:  It happened once. Will it happen again?

We belong to an era that gave birth to new industries resulting in innovative technologies, abundant business opportunities, millions of jobs and sophistication our lives.  IT is one such industry.

In early 70s, students seeking admission to engineering programs opted for mechanical, civil and electrical engineering. Even though some of them had an offer of admission to join the brand new and first-hand computer-engineering program, they did not change their mind. They wanted to avoid the unknown.  During later years, this trend changed. In 90’s it became a mad rush - a mad rush to pursue undergraduate and graduate programs in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Information Technology and the likes.  This mad rush was not just about admissions. There is more to it.

Sometime in 1991, I attended a job interview of one of the top IT companies in India.  There were several job openings for software engineers with experience ranging from two to five years.  My turn came and I entered the interview room.   There was a young man who greeted me and offered me a seat.  He was very vibrant and enthusiastic.  After several general questions, that young gentle man – the interviewer, who was seemingly in a hurry, asked me only one or may be two technical questions!  The interview was over in less than five minutes. In two weeks, I got a job offer with a firm commitment on an opportunity abroad. It was a tempting offer. Nevertheless, I decided not to join because I did not see any merit in their interview process.  The interview was too trivial and uninspiring.  One of the two technical questions that I answered without any efforts was, ‘How do you count the number of records in a table using SQL?’ The other question was, ‘What are the attributes of a file in Unix?’  Those days, relational databases and UNIX were the hot topics. There was no Internet, Java, .Net or the likes. It was a boom time for software engineers. The demand was extremely high. It was a mad rush. 

I am sure some of you witnessed similar experiences. It happens in a demand driven industry. Obviously!  However, a demand driven industry does not continue to remain demand driven over years!  You know what happened as we celebrated the New Year 2000.

The challenges that preoccupied our industry during the run-up to the millennium, especially the Y2K problem, the dot-com bubble and the events that followed the downturn, had significant impact on all of us, our families and peripheral industries that relied on the IT growth. Many startups vanished because of a lack of additional funding. While the confidence and hope of product development organizations thrived after the telecom bust, several other socioeconomic and political factors challenged the industry. IT industry bounced back within few years and had another spurt of growth until 2007.  Next, a seemingly isolated turmoil in the US sub-prime segment spread like a wildfire triggering ‘Global Recession’ in 2008 and even after six years since it hit our world continues to recover gradually – it is painfully a long running recovery!   

Lately, we have seen the challenges induced by the pandemic of 2020.

Looking back, the so-called IT boom happened once or twice.  That is history.  Many pundits have predicted that a similar boom is a distant dream. However, most businesses are upbeat, confident and strong to face the future.  They are devising innovative strategies and approaches to overcome the new challenges.  This applies to IT professionals too.  We cannot do what we did years ago and expect the same results. We know that.

Whether it is a boom time or a downturn, I have consistently experienced, heard and acknowledge two things - these are our takeaways.

  1. There is always a scarcity of competent and experienced professionals in this industry. Those who are competent, dauntless and adaptable survive and grow.
  2. In this new economy, businesses need innovative solutions, which in turn need expert teams and collaborative and trusted partners.  If your goal is to be one among them, you can succeed!

The runway in front of you needs lot of groundwork in this evolving landscape. How are you preparing yourself? “The Deliverable” will help you in this journey.

Read all the posts published under “The Deliverable” – it is free and available online.  Feel free to post your comments and questions.