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Are you ignoring the march of technology?

Its tough to keep up with changes in the technology. But if you don't, you can become irrelevant! 

Are you ignoring the march of technology?

Tuesday February 21, 2017,

3 min Read

We resist change. Most of us, in fact, hate change. But what happens when we ignore change happening around us? On this topic, sometime back, I came across an interesting story by Neal Ford (Thoughtworks). 

In late 90s, Neal Ford's company was thriving because they were experts in an object oriented framework named Class(y). It was built on top of Clipper, which was used to build DOS application using dBase (do you remember those good old days?). Until one day, with the rise of Windows, the business disappeared. Those who were experts in Class(y) and Clipper suddenly found that their skills are irrelevant and outdated - they had to struggle hard to "reskill" themselves and stay relevant.

Ford goes on to talk about living inside "technology bubbles". There is a major problem with living inside a bubble built inside technologies (especially proprietary ones): it is easy to get cosy and lose track of what is happening around us. And then, all of a sudden, when the bubble is gone, we are left scrambling to find some new job or business. That's a dangerous situation to be. The lesson: ignore the march of technology at your peril. An effective solution that Thoughtworks suggested is a tech radar: a way to view what technologies are emerging in the horizon. You can read this story and about tech radar here. You can even create your own tech radar! 

Let me get it straight: I am not saying that you should run behind any and every emerging technology. Also, core aspects such as fundamental tenets of software testing, programming paradigms and software project management strategies rarely change or evolve much slower than technologies. But ignoring the march of relevant technologies emerging in your domain can leave your skills outdated and make you irrelevant in the ever changing job market and business environments & needs, i.e., your business or you can suddenly become irrelevant. 

Now here is what you can do. 

1. Check if you are living inside a "tech bubble" and if so, come out of it. Are you stuck with an age old technology like Delphi or fading technologies like Objective-C? Is your tech business a legacy business such as maintaining software written in PowerBuilder or VisualFoxpro? Though you may currently have a steady business maintaining COBOL code, its only a matter of time since it becomes dead. So, upgrade to the modern alternatives and keep moving on. 

2. Check if you are exploiting change; if not, do so. The world around us is changing in many ways. Examples: Ever widening reach of mobile phones, increasingly sophisticated automated systems (AI, machine learning, deep learning, ...), ever-pervasive internet, burgeoning use of intelligent and connected devices (IoT, connected vehicles, ...). Depending on your capabilities, past experience and interests, you can selectively enter these changing areas, gain market share and establish leadership in specific domains. 

Your business or you as a professional may have thrived or are thriving. But "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future" (John F. Kennedy). Are you game for adapting to and exploiting change?