By Shammy Narayanan
Back in my high school days, a mention of Python would bring on memories of its coiled body, shiny skin, and angular head, whereas now, the same name invokes thoughts of “Matlab” and “NumPy” in a seventh grader.
Instead of having fun playing “Stone-Paper-Scissors, Five stones” and “Snake and Ladder,” this generation takes pride in playing with data types and data structures. Even before becoming fully proficient in their mother tongue, they become competent in a programming language. This is done to fulfill their parents’ iMax dream, or to create a Bill Gates V2.0. I hope the recent win of British PM Rishi Sunak doesn’t add “Politics” to their overloaded syllabus. The topic of a lost childhood is a story for another day, but what remains is that we have invariably created a battalion of coders who have successfully transformed a niche skillset of the 1980s into a commodity available in every alley of Bengaluru. Triggered by fear of recession, many of my colleagues seriously and sincerely attempt to return to Coding to salvage their careers. Such feeble attempts don’t appear as a “Goliath vs. David,” but rather as a bee in the giant windshield of a speeding truck that will be wiped off with the wind. It’s not merely an uphill task, but insanity to acquire a new skill and to compete with this generation who have been breathing code since their infancy.
It’s not just the army of human coders, but we have trained machines that are becoming much more efficient in programming. For example, an unsupervised machine model trained in GitHub projects had successfully translated over 90 percent of C++ functions into Java/Python. This accuracy and accessibility will improve over time, making Low-code/No-Code frameworks more glamorous. If we live in denial mode with an anchored belief that these changes will not profoundly impact our lives, then we are experiencing a “Gray Rhino” effect ( a metaphor for the threats that we can see and acknowledge yet do nothing about). Make no mistake, I am not demeaning the art of Coding. However, in a service landscape hit by a mid-life crisis, when we scurry to return to Coding, it’s akin to shooting a moving target from a fast-moving train with a blindfold on.
So if not coding, what can we do? Shift the mindset from commodity to creativity. This is achieved by focusing on the architecture and the functional blocks. Even with similar functionality, no two architectures are the same. The discussions around cost, availability, performance and security involve a sharp tradeoff that can never be automated. Such decision points are dynamic and keep shifting with business priorities, demanding comprehensive and competitive insights. How prepared are your systems to handle the incoming load if your business doubles up in the next two years? How are you positioned with your closest competitor in the go-to-market strategy and member experience across the various touchpoints? As long as you are in the frontline influencing/contributing to such decisions directly or indirectly, you are still relevant and last in line for replacement. Even if you are a solopreneur or an entrepreneur, your returns will be much higher when you invest in creating a better user experience, reducing the cost of acquiring customers, optimizing the services/ supply chain, and managing stakeholders rather than Coding.
Brace yourself for the impact of the new-age business model. Trying to take a re-sort under yesterday’s comfort zone will put a question mark on tomorrow’s sustenance. Returning to code is a hopeless and helpless promise that will not restore yesteryear’s glory. Embracing these options, even if it leads to short-term success, will be merely pyrrhic. Returning to code often appears to be the easiest and the best path to success. Behold, certain ideas are beautiful as long as they remain only as thoughts. Executing them can be a bad strategy.
Narayanan is the Data and Analytics Head of a Healthcare GCC. He is 9x certified in Cloud and blogs about emerging tech and strategies. He can be reached at https://www.linkedin.com/in/shammy-narayanan-9a098518/