We keep hearing that the end of programming is coming, but quite honestly it seems like it is either way off in the future or will morph into something else, maybe not called programming. And trust me it has been a long dusty road from seeing 10,000 open programming related job openings when I lived in the NYC metro and Northern New Jersey in the Star Ledger around 1992 to a point where there is virtually no programming jobs listed in any NYC physical newspaper. And the ones that are listed online are becoming less and less prominent.
First off outsourcing took that 10,000 open programming jobs down from 10,000 to 1,000. Many NY area companies probably prefer to not outsource, but quite frankly that is an internal corporate security issue or personal preference. The shear pressure of being able to at least cut the cost in half to 1/3 is a constant appeal to send jobs overseas. Now, outsourcing totally has its own problems. that I have seen called confusion and lack of passion. Lots of messed up projects sent overseas during what we can call the learning the h hard way years, but even those issues are becoming less and less of an issue. I worked with Ukrainian programmers for a couple years and quite frankly they were excellent in their skills and no better or less than Americans. They were professional and extremely well educated. As far as their work ethic, probably better than American. So, we have sent off as much we can physically possible outsource at this point. It will still go on, but in a multi-cultural, multi-global environment, even protectionists can’t stop. Pretty much too late to stop the Internet, UpWork, Fiverr or other ways to get programming resources fast and cheap. That genie has been left the bottle long ago.
Second there is automation. Even I am working on an automation platform for SEO, Events and Integrated Marketing called Take It National. Marketing automation like Infusionsoft, cloud based automation, and other automation projects are creating products that reduce the need for customized services as each day passes. This is not a product necessarily of outsourcing. It’s the nature of the beast. If I can make a living reducing SEO guys who charge $10,000 for 3 months work to a $150 a month bill and a $500 setup, hey don’t blame me for that. It’s a way to make a living. But think about it. As more and more people create automated platforms using artificial intelligence, the goals and future is starting to look very different. As each repetitive task gets automated, we end up at a new level of automation every 6 to 12 months. You toss in AI that makes software on the fly, and what you get is no need to build any software, human programming hands at least will touch, because even the custom part of the software will be figured out. Maybe not in my lifetime, but definitely for my kids.
So, when does the analyst make more than the programmer? That day is now.Even though I am working on my own startup Take It National, I still need to make a living, so I go to work when I can get the work. My specialty is Web Analytics Manager and Digital Marketing Director positions. Back in 1999 when I took on my first web analytics program called Hitbox, I had already 10 years of business intelligence/analyst experience at the phone company, so it was a natural fit for me. Working in a hybrid programming/web analyst job, the analyst side was worth at the time no more than $45k a year to employers, and the programming side got paid $90k. So I called myself a programmer and got paid. Today, what is happening is the programming job is still paying $90k and sometimes as high as $120k, but the web analyst job, because of the intellectual value it creates, is now paying $100k to $160k and outside Florida I have been enticed to positions as a consultant as an analyst that pay as high as $80 an hour, or $160k. So the analyst position is starting to not just overtake the programming position, it is starting to trend upwards. In fact, with this recent cutting of Work Visas to the us and other factors, the analyst positions will increase in value. I am getting called 10 times a day by head-hunters and seeing what they are willing to pay for web analytics work going up and up. Kind of reminds me of programming in 1999.
But let’s face it, I have worked as both an analyst and a programmer, and one task requires creating content, research, creativity that allows a business to make serious decisions. The other one, the programmer, requires brain power, but it is almost the type of brain power of being a virtual machine, that will be assigned to a machine eventually. As a programmer you are really like the type-setter in the old time publishing business. It may be difficult, it may take a ton of brain power and logic, but it is not a job that ultimately brings business decision making, unless you are in a combined role like I have in the past. I have found being a programmer I can turn off my business brain and just do the programming in a very highly focused way. It actually requires less brain power in the end.
The real question is where is programming going as a job in general. What I am starting to think is that programming is a necessary task within another job. Almost all the web analytics jobs I look at today are requiring some level of programming. I worked at Office Depot for a bit in the recent past as a web analyst and it required SQL programming, as well as other types of excel programming. So, if you want to be an analyst and can not program that is going to be an issue in general.
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