Happy New Year?

The current state of affairs

In 2020 I learned the meaning of the English expression Busman’s Holiday, and it generally applies to software developers that write code on their free time, but especially so during a pandemic with abundant remote working. Putting that aside, I will make some predictions of what will be happening over the coming year.

Predictions

The Pestilence

Given how popular the Omicron strain has proven, my guess is that everybody will have had Covid, and the patience for government measures will have grown thin, especially given the attitudes with which they flout the rules within the government itself. If Labour takes power, of course this can all change and we can be heading for more lockdowns.

The Industry

Despite lockdowns and the inevitable destruction of the service industry (yes, for good reasons in managing the spread of the virus, but let us be honest with the consequences) the IT industry has fared reasonably well. As long as I have lived in this country there has been a general election every two-and-bit years, and we could be looking at one of those again, and in a run-up to that, Rishi Sunak will want to keep money pumped into the system, meaning IT people will most likely still do quite well for a bit longer.

The Great Resignation

From the discussions around recruitment before the above variant gained popularity, there seemed to be two main streams, people that want to work remote full time, and people who want to work in a hybrid capacity, where you do meetings and collaboration in the office, and focussed work remote – if not at home at least in a co-working space closer to your home. The crutch used by weak leaders to manage people – counting bums in seats – will probably need to be replaced by some kind of outcome-based measurement. Luckily that ought to align quite well with company targets. No company has a slide in an AGM saying “well revenue is down, profits are down but luckily we have 99.5% occupancy of our desks“, the goal is to make money, and with the right type of goals within an organisation you can have department and team goals that in some way works towards the overall business goals, but of course measuring the right thing is key, so – yes – it is harder than just counting empty desks.

My thinking is that if the pandemic calms down, we will se a subset of organisations that are unashamedly on-prem only, and those that look for work that is on-prem only will go there, but I suspect that it will be harder to hire for those positions.

The Continuous Delivery

People insist with this Agile malarkey, and even though “Scrum, but…” remains the dominant methodology, companies are starting to read Accelerate and realise that they need to move faster, so gradually obstacles are being dismantled. Management structures are tweaked, project management and budgeting is being replaced with product and portfolio management. Coordination exists in companies already. Organisations that are famously agile say they struggle to coordinate cross-cutting changes across an organisation, but in old enterprises, that coordination work is the thing they do well, because in their current day-to-day even the most trivial piece of work cuts across several teams and needs careful planning and second-guessing to be delivered safely. The big differentiator is to change the internal structure so that for 80% of changes, a single team can plan, test, construct and monitor features completely independently, while leaving some version of the existing structure to deal with the subset of changes where you still need to coordinate. If you achieve that, you are in a vastly better place than before.

The Hardware Shortage

Have you tried buying a graphics card? A car? Well, you may have noticed that there is a supply chain crisis in the world. US container ports are struggling now and what originally started with the double whammy of Chinese New Year and OG Covid shutting down electronics suppliers, got worse as there was a supply shock when the pessimistic demand prognoses turned out to have not accounted for stimulus checks inducing demand globally, and more recently there i are geopolitical issues when one of the main semiconductor suppliers globally, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is situated in region on the brink of war while at the same time Intel are struggling to produce any advanced processor nodes in their own fabs, even though they now are producing a competitive line of processors again.

My prediction is grim here, but let’s pretend like things will go well. I don’t think you should buy anytihng in 2022 if you can avoid it, which has been my advice from March 2020 onwards, that hasn’t changed.,

The Crypto Scams

Just like with drug trafficking and modern slavery, you can make a lot of money with cryptocurrencies and NFTs, and you can already see that the biggest profits are made when people are robbed of their coins.

As you dream up your practical use cases that will finally be the problem that crypto solves, just remember this: Like with all applications of cryptographic signing, the time it takes to encrypt or decrypt something is part of why it works, why it is secure. You will never have a world where these transactions are fast and secure. All exchanges for cryptocurrencies that trade fast circumvent a number of supposed features of a distributed ledger. There is no “it will be faster, eventually” unless you are prepared to sacrifice some of the key selling points.

Luckily China has decided that crypto currencies are inherently decadent and are clamping down on miners, and if western utilities start going after those that steal electricity with more zeal, we could start to see positive change.

Don’t forget that NFTs, Bitcoin and Eth singlehandedly is destroying the Paris Accord on climate change, You can heat a typical American home for six weeks on the energy required for one (1) bitcoin transaction. As computers become faster, this will gradually be worse as well.

Conclusion

As with any arbitrary point in time, the time immediately after will not be drastically different than the time immediately preceding it, so there will be much of the same next year, but I have still tried to make some statements that are specific enough that we can go back in a year to see what I got right and what I got wrong. Happy New Year!