Innovation, Technology, and Life in the Cloud

George Watt

How to catch the app development skills boomerang

Why you may already have the app development skills you desperately need

“Application developers? Why would we need to have any of those in-house?”

No developers, please

If you have been around informationBoomerangs technology for more than a few years I would bet this is not the first time you have read or heard something like that. It was almost a mantra for IT organizations for many years in the 1990s and 2000s.

As IT departments focused on operational efficiency, they were happy to syphon off their application development expertise and get what they needed from development body shops for a fraction of the price. But the app development skills boomerang they so vigorously threw away has recently returned, and it is about to deliver a knockout blow to their jaw.

Fueled, and driven, by technologies such as social media, mobility and cloud computing, it’s no longer a surprise to anyone that today’s customer-experience-driven economy demands compelling, engaging applications. But it’s not only a technology story.

It’s a story of human emotion. Customers now crave, and demand, an emotional connection with those with whom they do business. And the confluence of these things is having a profound impact on application development.

More developers, please

Businesses are discovering that, in order to deliver that engaging experience – that emotional connection, they need application developers that understand, and are invested in, their business.

They need to bring developers closer to the businesses, and even the business units, they serve. They need developers who understand their customers. And they need to be able to respond immediately to changes in customer sentiment, emotion, demands and events.

All of this means that businesses need to bring development skills back in-house at a time when those skills are in extremely high demand, expensive and often difficult – or impossible – to find. But are they really that difficult to find? OK, they are. Though there may be some relief.

The answer may be closer than you think

What some organizations have forgotten is that not all of their application skills left when they stopped developing their own applications. In many cases, some of their best developers simply moved to other areas of the organization.

For example, some may have moved to IT operations, and some may have become technical resources working within specific lines of business.

Updating the skills of people like this may not be such an onerous task. What’s more, some of those top-notch developers may have (likely) maintained their development skills on their own, and they may already have the up-to-date knowledge you require. For the latter especially, a return to application development may greatly increase their job satisfaction and loyalty to their employer.

That’s great news for the developer, the business, and the customer. And those who went to IT operations ought to have a fantastic foundation for any DevOps initiatives you might be considering.

So when the application skills boomerang comes rushing toward your head, don’t duck. Reach up and grab it. You may already have at least some of what you need in order to get a head start.

George is co-author of “The Innovative CIO.”

Image credit: Geof Wilson
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About

This site contains articles regarding the practical aspects of deploying, providing, managing, and using cloud computing, and other technologies. I also share my thoughts and experiences related to innovation, consumer driven IT, social media, management issues, and about what some refer to as “soft skills”.

All works copyright (C) 2009 - 2015 George Watt - All rights reserved.

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