Don’t forget your Babel fish if you want to go to work….

Forgive my rip-off of two cultural icons folks, I promise the title will be the last reference to the works of Messrs Adams and Moore. Just a few rambling unconnected and quite possibly irrelevant thoughts..

This may be my first and only foray into this technologist’s blog speaking as one of 4 only non-technologists in the company. There are currently 100-odd (and counting – kinda like your google mail capacity)  other individuals who are right now to one degree or another feverishly involved and busy producing quality applications for critical enterprise wide business solutions (per the marketing blurb)

I had until now considered myself as having grasped at least a rudimentary inkling of what it was all about. ‘It’ being of course the whole software development thing.

This modicum of insight had supposedly been achieved (or so I thought) through a little bit of osmosis, a little bit of active learning and just a smidgen of common (?) sense.

Alas I was sadly mistaken as to the degree of my tech literacy, and am now, as a result of the entries to the Blog so far, coming to the inevitable conclusion that there is a whole other universe operating right outside my office door, a veritable parallel dimension, light years in expanse and constantly expanding away from my static little world at an alarming rate.

This other universe is populated not just by my co-workers, (who traverse to my universe at will e.g. when they want to arrange their annual leave or get paid), but is also filled with strange phenomena straight out of a BBC 4 documentary, such as ‘Web 2.0’, and ‘dimensional modelling’ and all manner of other weird and presumably wonderful wonders.

I realise now after 5 years in the Software industry, and having spent many many hours in that alternate universe attending meetings where the majority of the subject matter bandied about was, to put it politely, gibberish to my layman’s mind, that I have had to train myself to listen carefully and recognise and extract the pertinent information. This usually consists of two or three HR type actions such as ‘Find me a Hyper specialist contractor for a 3 day role who has 25 years experience in developing sub-orbital satellite guidance software in blurg on a Unix platform, with at least seven of the following seven development languages – insert random alpha numeric characters in groups of 3 or 4 here___ ___ ___ ___ etc. …Oh and I need him/her here by tomorrow or else forget about it…’ or perhaps, ‘buy more tea’.

Right then…

The ‘business user’ referred to in an earlier entry by Maria, doesn’t presumably care as to how many rows and columns there are in a particular database or about table joins, as Maria points out. They ‘just’ want the software to provide them with the information they need in a timely manner and ultimately to help them add to their bottom line or improve their service or whatever their business drivers happen to be.

So where should the tech-non tech interface or common ground be? Should business folk get more tech literate or should technical people english-up a bit. But you guys have the upper hand with your own suite of languages and protocols and processes and so on. I still can’t program my VCR. And I don’t have time to go back to college.

I do remember whilst in College, my IT lecturers were proposing a new concept of ‘hybrid manager’ a tech savvy business type, neither engineer nor accountant, who could seamlessly integrate (see, I have acquired some of the lexicon) with both worlds, and as you can tell from the plethora of Hybrid managers out there, this idea had legs….

We at DSI are fortunate to have excellent analysts, Project Managers, Architects etc. who do a very good job speaking to clients about their IT needs and produce coherent and comprehensive requirements documentation eventually leading to the development of high quality IT Business solutions. Still I suspect it’s not always the technical people in organisations that make the buying decisions. I know I have had my eyes involuntarily glaze over on so many occasions I have to believe there are other poor souls out there. If not, direct me to the nearest asylum someone.

And as ‘they’ say …‿As the amount of data once measured in Megabytes/Gigabytes/Terabytes‿ (yes – and Petabytes) grows and the languages and processes you folks devise to transform it to business useful information, spare a thought for those of us who still think of Struts as something peacocks do. When you see my eyes glaze over it’s either because I need you repeat what you’ve just said in a very slow fashion and with pictures, or I’ve suddenly remembered I’ve forgotten my Mother’s birthday – again. Now, where’s my osmosis wellies…..? The ones with the big holes in…

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