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Demography of the software development industry — past and future



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Software development industry is continuously changing. Apart from technological factors, also demography plays an important role — whether you are a software engineer or a human resources specialist. If you are a developer, you are bound by the 40 years’ duration of your career, determined by biology and economy. In human resources, your perspective may be shorter, although you have to take long term trends into account.

Forty years ago, in the time of my studies, software development was new. The organizational structure reflected the demographical one: at the top was our professor, then his assistants, at the bottom we, the students. Nowadays, software development is an established industry. Many reach an age of 40, 50 without achieving an managerial position. Moreover — industry wants young developers and slightly older managers, the rest forms a large reservoir of unused or underused human resources. On the other hand, the appeal of the profession varies — currently the number of the graduates of many universities is twice smaller than in the heyday of the Internet bubble.

Another factor is the international cooperation and outsourcing. The perspective in Switzerland — a high cost country, potential outsourcer, may be different from India — a low cost country, potential subcontractor. What is the perspective of Russia?

Still another factor is the technical development. Will we invent a silver bullet that will make software development 10 or 100 times faster? Will the need for software increase forever? Will people lose the interest in technical gadgets altogether?

The experience of past 40 years can give us some hints about how the industry may develop in the future. At least it makes clear that the world in 10 (20, 30, 40) years will be profoundly different from the one we know now. It is a challenging task for the software industry to adapt to this (unknown) change. Both sides — the developers and the employers will have to show a great flexibility. In my presentation I will identify the main factors shaping the market and try to estimate their future influence.

Jan Sliwa

Jan SliwaJan Sliwa

Jan Sliwa has received his MSc degree in Automation in 1977 from the Silesian Institute of Technology in Gliwice, Poland. In 1981 he moved to Switzerland where he developed software in languages ranging from Assembler to Java. He worked many years in the area of industrial control and then switched to Web-Database applications. In recent years his activity field was related to medicine (drug approval, medical registries). At several conferences he presented papers about the technical and ethical aspects of medical research and new trends in the medicine, like the Wireless Sensor Networks. He is currently affiliated to the Department of Engineering end Information Technology of the University of Applied Sciences of Berne (BFH-TI) in Biel, Switzerland. His non-IT speciality is languages and cultures: Germanic, Romanic, Slavic and East Asian.


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