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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Here is an interesting one from cnet - employers looking for techies with business skills. Not the first article like this, but I have to say that I see it a bit differently. It is not the techies who need business skills, it is the businesses who need tech skills. Just to be clear - it is wonderful if developers have both, developers should have both, but so should business people. In all the years I have been reading articles on how "techies need business skills" you know how many articles I have seen on "business people need tech skills"? None. Zero. Well, I take that back. I have seen those articles, but the "tech skills" they are inevitably referring to Word and email.

At the end of the day it is all about communication. What is happening is rather then the business saying, "hey, why don't we make an effort to try and understand the technical issues better" they are saying "hey, why don't techies make more of an effort to understand our niche business issues."

By demanding more from techies, business are asserting a form of power. "We are in charge. You need to meet us on our turf." All fair enough, but open your eyes a bit and you can clearly see that more and more of the business is being run by a computer. How can you understand the business without understanding technology? To put it another way, only a techie CAN understand the business. ...while that statement might be a bit over the top at the moment, it won't be in another 10 years.

What bothers me is the implication that you need both skills to succeed. A lot of coders I have met have written absolutely brilliant code - 3-4 times faster then average - with absolutely no social / business skills what-so-ever. So, what, a company shouldn't hire that person? Heck no! A coder like that can do the work of 20 "business analysists". Find somebody to sit down and work with him to understand what work need to be done. But don't force him down a different career path.

Being exceptionally good at either coding or business should be a path to success. Being knowledgeable in both is very valuable, but people should be appreciated to for the skills they bring. It is time business started acknowledging that their responsibility to understand technology is EQUAL to a technologists responsibility to understand business.

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