Sunday, July 23, 2017

Recent Q&A on IS Careers, Architecture and Software Engineering

Here are a few recent questions on IS Careers, Architecture and Software Programming that I answered

most programmers learn online or from book without degree so why the salary is high or better than other hard jobs ?

for example reporter salary is average 47k dollar while programmers 84–100,000 dollar
Ever see a duck ‘floating’ in a pond, seemingly calm on the surface

What don’t you see? The duck is really paddling furiously to stay afloat.
Programming may not sound hard. And, as a matter of fact, much of the programming activity involves applying ‘logic’ in a structured way. … almost like the seemingly calm duck floating in the pond.
What you don’t see the programmer do is furious paddling -
  • Understanding cryptic requirements
  • Creating mockups and clarifying user needs
  • Trying to visualize a solution to a real-world problem
  • Debugging pieces of code, integrating it with rest of the infrastructure and making it run
While we are at it, let’s set the record straight.
  • Not all programmers are “without degree.”
    • Many programmers and analysts - especially the high-paid programmers making $80–100K+ do possess 4+ year college degrees.
  • Learning to program may sound easy, and some self-taught programmers are indeed good.
    • However, most programmers who learn from online sources or from books may already have a background in computers (e.g A Java programmer learning .Net or the vice-versa)

    How do I get a job in US with 3 years of developer experience?

    With 3 years of salesforce experience and 4 years total development experience how can I apply for H1 Visa or how I apply in US companies for recruitment.

    Most companies look for persons who already have H1 visa. Is there way to get job on merit and not by spending money.

    To get placement from existing company in India for H1 is also tough as many people are already in queue. 

    In the current economic climate with Trump administration closely watching issuance of visas, most employers are cautious. You have answered your question partly

    • Most companies look for persons who already have H1 visa. Is there way to get job on merit and not by spending money.
      • Don’t fall for ‘consultants’ who charge candidates to sponsor their H1 visas. Not only is it illegal, it is also going to be futile since the visa may be invalidated
    • To get placement from existing company in India for H1 is also tough as many people are already in queue.
      • Yes, it is tough and one will have to ‘stand in the queue’ patiently

    Don’t just wait for a ‘US visa’ opportunity.
    • Continue to work on good SFDC projects
    • Enhance your skills with experience and certifications.
    • Seek other opportunities to travel to other countries and expand your horizon!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Big G's move in India: Google IT Consulting in India to compete against IT giants like TCS, Infosys

There is interesting news about the move by Google IT Consulting to expand its practice in India.
Reports claim that Google IT consultancy for large businesses will head for a new revenue source in India.  Mohit Pande, Country Head – India, Google Cloud was quoted by BusinessLine saying,
“We have invested significantly into professional services in India. These are consulting services, change management services for the customers where we work with them to solve some of their most complex problems.”
“India assumes a lot of significance for us. It is a large market where public cloud is set for huge amount of growth. I also think because of the environment in India where internet services are getting better, data are getting cheaper,” Pande said.
Given the growing importance of India, Google may also set up an Advanced Solutions Lab in India, which so far is only in Mountain View, California, Pande indicated. The lab will be an extension to Google’s Professional services in the country.
Image result for google consulting

Google's parent Alphabet is worth almost half-a-trillion dollars, and the firm also generated $900 million revenue in India last year. The company has invested over $30 billion on its cloud platform in the last three years globally. This includes investments in setting up cloud data centers across the globe, one of which is scheduled to come up in India.
Google is now investing heavily in India for its cloud offerings, in particular its public cloud offering termed Google Cloud Platform wherein companies can rent compute and storage capacity from Google.  Google will offer consulting in machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to large enterprise customers. 

Small step for Google, Giant leap for offshoring IT Services

This move by big-G could pit the big-tech company against offshoring giants like TCS, Infosys, Wipro and also against multinationals like IBM and Accenture. These software services companies have been struggling to evolve business models to address the risks from visa restrictions and protectionism in the west and also need to quickly re-skill their folks on newer technologies. (Ref - my blog on reskilling).

Indian software services companies are under tremendous pressure to continue to show growth in a slowing global market that is also experiencing increased protectionism in the west. Old linear growth model of hiring more ‘freshers’ and taking larger application development and maintenance contracts has reached a plateau. CEOs and boards of Services companies are hard pressed to explain newer game-plans to their shareholders. Slowdown has and the haphazard layoffs (link my blog) also adversely impacted the morale in the Indian IT sector.

Bottomline: Software services companies have grown large 'cloud service practices' with System Integration offerings around Amazon's AWS, Microsoft's Azure and also Google Cloud and other platforms. Wonder if these offerings will take a hit when Google expands the services business. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tips on Reskilling to leverage emerging IT and Digital Transformation opportunities

My blog (link) on layoffs and the offshoring IT Services last week seems to have touched a nerve: LinkedIn analytics indicates nearly 100K views and thousands of shares, likes and comments. The post also echoed murmurs in the industry that tens of thousands of existing employees – folks hired and trained on ‘other,’ ‘older’ technologies – are either un-trainable or possess ‘obsolete’ skills.
Mid-career professionals seem to be caught in a bind. During better times, when voluntary attrition was running at 20-25%, re-training and reskilling wasn’t such a big deal. A java, .NET or ABAP programmer could easily switch employers rather than stay on bench. Similarly, project managers with a strong background in the fundamentals of SDLC gained in a SAP program could easily move to manager another Oracle or SaaS platform integration project.
Business headwinds and a lack of foresight have caught IT service firms off-guard, and many executives are pointing to re-skilling challenge as a reason for excess bench at their organizations.
IT professionals seek structured inputs and guidelines, but when it comes to reskilling, much of the learnings are empirical. Added to this is the challenge of business change. Most ‘training plans’ defined during annual performance reviews end up being nebulous. Changing business drivers, shifting budgets and project requirements take precedence, pushing training plans to the backburner.

How to reskill? Show me a roadmap

Those looking for a reskilling plan or roadmap are not going to find one. However, there are sufficient clues that one can gather by just looking at the tech landscape. Periodic review of technology journals, blogs and engaging in online discussion forums can give insights on some of the emerging trends. Similarly, attending technology seminars and conferences are a popular way to network with peers and stay updated. Some ideas on retraining follow:-

On the job shift

On-the-job retraining is perhaps the most common and preferred mode. Employees of service firms may gain insights on demand for specific technologies by observing the bids, proposals and projects from clients. Likewise, those working for end-user organizations may have an opportunity to observe proposals from their business partners.  
A couple of years ago, the global manufacturing company I worked for embarked on a major Salesforce CRM rollout. The program started with a small footprint in a single region but soon gathered momentum. Dozens of consultants and analysts from an implementation partner were engaged to support the company’s core team. It was obvious to IS team members that aligning with that global SFDC rollout was a long-term career enhancing move. Folks began to seek formal and informal opportunities to contribute to the program. Some got to attend SFDC training, and even the global Dreamforce workshops.
A similar story repeated when the organization began a program to migrate platforms and systems to the cloud (refer: my blog on AWS)
An awareness of such opportunities – a new project or technology rollout – is just the first step. To make the shift, one may also have to address practical challenges including office politics (you may or may not be ‘invited’ to the new project), or the fact that you are really good at your current job (your manager may not be willing to release you to join the other program).

Incremental skill building vs. a Strategic Shift

Reskilling and moving up the career ladder may sometimes feel like a ‘random walk’ but in reality, one either is building incremental skills or making Strategic Shifts.
The most efficient (and easier) way to re-skill is by incrementally building on one’s experiences in a technical platform or domain. Retraining on newer capabilities or a complementary vendor product may involve some effort, but can be seamless. For example, SAP consultants will be motivated to get certified in “SAP HANA 1.0”. Likewise, Microsoft and Java consultants may stay updated on developments in .NET or J2EE space. A few years ago when organizations began planning to move their application platforms to the Cloud, infrastructure and platform engineers were quick to recognize the shift and began learning about the fundamentals of public and private cloud hosting and vendor offerings like AWS, Azure etc (my blog )
Individuals with expertise in a domain or technology may opt for a Strategic Shift by re-skilling in a completely new domain or technology platform. Sometimes, the shift may not involve another technology but rather be a move from technical to program management stream or the vice versa. I use the term ‘Strategic’ loosely since such shift may also be dictated by personal goals, market demand, employer’s needs or other external factors. For instance, when vendors like Informix (Database), BaaN (ERP) and Peoplesoft (HRMS) began losing market-share, hundreds of programmers and consultants who had specialized in these platforms began evaluating their options. Some quickly shifted to allied technologies while others moved across domains and roles.

Training and Certifications

Online discussion forums and career groups regularly address questions on ‘significance and value’ of certifications. Many engage in vocal discussions on rhetorical questions like “Is a PMP/TOGAF/ITIL/Black-Belt/etc certified Project Manager/Architect/Lead better’ than someone who isn’t certified?”
The reason for such questions are obvious: There are a vast array of certifications of a variety of topics from vendors and other industry groups to choose from. Acquiring a certification or credential can amount to a significant investment, especially when combined with focused training sessions, time for study and self-learning; not to mention the cost of certification exam itself.
Questioning the ‘value’ of certification is moot since headhunters, recruiters and hiring teams frequently use certifications as filtering key-words. An awesome Program Manager’s resume may not get past the initial screening if ‘PMP’ were used as a filter. (This is just a practical reality, not intended to trigger a debate on the merits of PMI’s certification credentials.). It is obvious that training and certification opportunities should figure in a reskilling plan.

Reskill in a context: building on fundamentals

Tech employers are reporting an increasing demand for skills to enable Digital transformation and to leverage innovations in Big Data analytics, integration and visualization, robotics, IoT, Artificial Intelligence etc. While there is some demand for specialists, the demand is greater for folks who are grounded in the fundamentals of IS deployment in a corporate landscape. These are the folks with a strong background in software development lifecycles who can design, customize, integrate and enable such digital platforms.
Let us take the example of big-data, analytics and visualization which figure among the hottest new technology trends (link). I recently led a team to define the architecture for ‘Digitization of Agronomy’ enabled by big-data and analytical modeling. The Agronomists and data scientists had a good understanding of the kind of data they needed for visualization, and to address their ‘what if’ modeling. They helped identify the disparate data sources inside and external to the organization, and were aided by a few specialists who had gained expertise in tools like Qlik, MongoDB etc. This turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg. The larger effort was to design and operationalize the required Data repositories, and integration of data flows across the disparate sources – activities that the existing IS teams were well versed in. (link – case study highlights)
Bottomline: Tech executives and employees need to stay grounded on the fundamentals of IS while planning to re-skill.

Thanks for reading! Please share your views on reskilling, and click on LikeShare, Tweet and Comment below to continue this conversation | Reposted from my linkedin blog |

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

What's the biggest blocker for legacy large companies IT to switch to cloud technologies?

Here is a recent question in an online forum. My response follows.

A few years ago, a new CIO took over our organization, a multinational supply-chain company and had a clear cloud-first mandate. The team was able to get the stakeholders aligned on a cloud (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS) based portfolio strategy.
I led an extensive assessment of the application portfolio, reviewing the different dimensions of individual platforms and capabilities.
  1. Some applications were clearly SaaS candidates since the vendor offerings had matured
  2. A few were good candidates for PaaS, especially where the organization had the capability to manage the service
  3. Due to network, latency, data volume, legal and other constraints, some applications would have to remain in IaaS (Private, Virtual Private Cloud)
  4. Some legacy applications had clearly not been designed to be virtualized and would not benefit from a move to the cloud (even to IaaS). These were running on old/proprietary hardware infrastructure and would have to be redesigned (and not just ‘migrated’)
If we set aside politics, turf wars, legal and privacy constraints, one will still encounter genuine technical constraints (#4 above) that prevent an application move to the cloud.

One might argue that even those applications can be ‘migrated’ to a cloud with some refactoring. However, the cost of such migration may not justify the benefit. Doing so merely to satisfy CxOs ego to say ‘we are entirely on the cloud’ is bound to be counterproductive.