Sunday, May 08, 2005

Programmer Productivity and Economic Rewards

In the last few months it has come to my attention that programmers can improve their productivity by astronomical percentage gains. I will follow in another article how these gains and what gains can come about. It follows then that the following conjectures may well be in-line (note these are conjectures and assumptions not proven facts)

If Software is one of the major areas where productivity gains can be astronomical as opposed to other careers, then the potential there is for unlimited monetary gains. Software may be one of the few areas where economic profits are possible long-term. Economic profits typically become zero due to competition. But, even in a competitive market, if productivity can be improved long-term, then long-term economic profits are still possible… The potential then for software as an incredible money making machine is there – even with competition. This is of course, only if productivity gains continue to outpace competition's lost margin.

Please comment and correct, I appreciate the debate!

Thank you,
Darshan Arney


Blogger Chris said...

Astronomical sounds impressive what did you have in mind.

Something such as Code that writes Code:
With technology changing as fast as it currently is, code that writes code is implausible and unyielding to the ever changing marketplace. While it may work out for a while it needs to be constantly upgraded to newer versions. So you end up with code that wrote code that wrote code that is the code we are using to write code?!?

Consider just the development environments for windows, such as C++, C#, VB.NET, etc. These technologies are in continual flux ever evolving and changing as new concepts unfold. Higher security requirements, faster or cluster awareness, multi-tier to n-tier environments. Who can keep up and what kind of experience demands are there for the average Joe, who having a wife and kids only has a few hours in the day to dedicate to learning the ropes? Even if you do get ahead for a while, by the time you sit down to write out a well thought out program the technology has passed you by.

Cross Collaboration:
Well lets kick this to the next level, what about taking 500 programmers who all know their individual piece of life in programming, 50 C++ programmers each specializing in different subsets of C++, and 300 VB.NET programmers, 100 Java developers, 100 of this weeks top language all get together an try to develop something. We use XML code conversion software that takes C++ code and converts it to VB.NET code, or vise versa. Everyone knows their own thing and they are able to collaborate with anyone who can develop anything through code conversion or modularization.

Who has the time to get everyone together? Who has a project that requires all of the diversity out there? Perhaps something like the Google work?

Selling software?
Oh man you are talking niches and the buddy system. Profitability in software is realistic if you can find the niche or have a buddy who needs something done who just happens to work for the state. No seriously what software out there is really kicking butt? MS sure, but who else? The internet, or something on it? Who are we, and what do we have that everyone could want? And I mean everyone, because that is what it would take to really make it big.

Small firms rise up in the morning and close down by nightfall here. You have to have the “Idea” and you have to have the money to not only build it (software\hardware) but you also have to market it. By the time you build it, technology has passed you by and you are left doing something that was solved by some big firm 5 years ago.


I am not against what you are talking about, but I need to know some of the details, what have you got in mind? Both of these scenarios above are really cool, but how realistic are they?

- Chris

11:45 AM  
Blogger Darshan Arney said...

Chris brings up two main points of conflict:

How do we improve productivity, especially if everything changes constantly?

How do we profit from productivity improvements in a big way?

As to the profit motive, I should be clearer about economic profits. Economic profits is Sales Revenue subtracted from normal costs and economic opportunity costs. Economic Opportunity costs being those resources that could have been reallocated elsewhere... in other ventures or opportunities.

I did make a jump I admit by claiming a software was an incredible money making machine! But, I still believe it has the potential for long-term economic profits.

What is the point of economic profits? Well, the point is that software is in the long-term, the best place for allocating your resources as your economic profits will not be competed away.

Productivity is the key to unlocking long-term economic profits even with fierce competition (which normally brings economic profits down to zero..)

Productivity in software on the other hand, has unlimited potential for improvement.

Productivity enhancement through improving the software developer has much room for growth as well.

I see Chris' point though, it looks like a dream not tied to reality...

The next article will address productivity claims

10:41 PM  

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