Last year I spent 4 days in Toronto for BarCamp and Mesh…two terrific events. The organizers did a great job. After meeting about 100 people over the 4 days, it became clear that there is a change afoot.
For years there’s been a stereotype of developers being socially challenged, solely left-brained back-office kids who didn’t know a thing about the businesses they were coding for. The idea was that while companies needed developers to produce products (like assembly line workers), they shouldn’t be allowed outside of the office, never put in front of a customer, and should be micro-managed like children (don’t bother giving them the big picture, just feed them simple-minded to-do lists).
The majority of people (developers) I met at the events in Toronto (and continue to meet at similar events) were exactly the opposite of this stereotype. They were real entrepreneurs – well rounded and articulate. They are both right brained and left brained, genuinely interested in helping their customers, and have a keen sense of the businesses they are trying to build.
Granted, the profile of an entrepreneur is special, and not everyone is an entrepreneur. But the number of tech entrepreneurs is climbing like crazy with the traditional barriers to entry in the software space rapidly crumbling. The huge companies that have filled their cubicles with people that only know one thing or another but can’t hold the whole picture are going to see their dominant positions eaten away by the small and mid-sized teams who just get it – all of it, not just their tiny little piece. “Not my job” is not in the vocabulary of today’s tech entrepreneur – the new age developer.
The idea that a business should have developers packed into the closet to pump out code and hand-off their products to shiny sales people who don’t know anything about the technology but are strong socializers is no longer valid. Not when you’re going up against someone that can hold both of those traits at the same time. Imagine a sales person that actually understands the technology – and a developer that actually understands the customer.