Long-time colleague Ian McGowan asked the following in Slack today: “Tony, what is the non-MV work you’re doing? How did that transition go? What’s the story? I’m asking for, uh, a friend that’s been a PICK programmer since 1987. ;)” I thought I’d post the answer here.
Well, I’ve been providing “advanced” development services within the MV industry for over 15 years, and before that I was doing similar MV/nonMV integration at Pick Systems and elsewhere. Just look at the huge diversity of topics I’ve covered on this dusty old blog. So this hasn’t been so much a transition for me but rather a re-focusing to a different target audience.
At the tender age of 52, I’m too old and not qualified to compete with younger folks to provide basic development services to the open market. Let’s be real, it’s tough to compete. I blogged on a similar topic a few years ago:
If we compete with the mainstream world we’re going to fail. We know that’s true because after nearly 50 years of trying to be competitive, MV is still a tiny niche industry trying to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up.
So I don’t compete. I’m just not interested in chasing the latest “hot/new” frameworks or paradigms. (I’ve pitched the idea that MV could be the next “hot new” thing … like trees, do articles make a sound when they fall, when no one is around to hear/read it?) Fads come and go too quickly and I’m more interested in solutions than syntax. (The amount of time wasted on tools that save us time astounds me.)
So I’m doing what I’ve been recommending for the last 20 years to colleagues in this position: Shift toward management. There are Many companies with ownership/management who want to “do something” but they don’t know what to do. Their IT staff focus on tactical objectives like setting up servers, not strategic objectives like using new technology in marketing and sales. They don’t know if they want to migrate or integrate, to trash everything or to reinvest in their assets. They want and need guidance about how to offer technical conveniences to trading partners and how to respond to the same. How do I know about these companies? Because I occasionally get calls from them as they google for things like “pick migration”.
That’s where I fit. I just wish these companies would seek out services from myself and colleagues before they make the decision to migrate, rather than looking for people to help implement their already-carved-in-stone decision to migrate. I can serve as an interim CTO or on-retainer technical management/consultant. I can be a project manager or technical liaison with other companies. I don’t need to write the web service code, though I can if asked, but I can define the API for developers – that by itself is a skill that some developers don’t yet possess. I can help with the decision to migrate or integrate, and I can help implement either decision.
And … the real point here … some of our, uh, friends in the MV industry can do many of these things too, when there isn’t enough BASIC coding work to go around.
BTW, I have spoken with the “Big 2” MV DBMS companies about doing work with them but neither of them have a place for me. While that’s no surprise, given my colorful history, it’s also been a final disappointment. I mean, it’s time for a change, no? These companies have been doing marketing and product management the same way for a Long time. How’s that workin’ for us, eh? Ahem… we return you now to our regularly scheduled program…
On an as-time-permits basis over the last year+, I’ve been doing a lot of work with WordPress (CMS) and have been trying to find time to kick off a couple consumer-facing businesses. (You couldn’t tell from this old blog, huh? Yeah, I’ll update it soon. Cobbler’s children have no shoes, ‘n all…) As to Ian’s question about “transition”, I think the better model (for me anyway) is high-volume/low-ticket, compared to low-volume/high-ticket. In other words, get a LOT of consumers or advertisers to pay a dollar for something rather than trying to get one company in the MV industry to pay my hourly rate or for high-priced DBMS-based products. There’s plenty of room in the consumer space for new offerings.
All that said, I’m still a VAR for a couple MV end-users and I’m on retainer to provide “all you can eat” development and technical management services. I’m still a manager in the MVDBMS Google Group and the Pick Users Group in LinkedIn, but I’ve brought in several other managers for each group, they do what’s required, and I hardly even visit the groups anymore … apparently not many others do either. I also have a few unfinished MV products in my pocket that I’d like to get out, just because, and that will keep my foot in the door. And not to close any of those doors, I’m still open to modernization opportunities for MV apps (mobile device, GUI, etc). I do enjoy that, I’m just not actively marketing on this side anymore.
And that’s “the story”.