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wonderpup

Impact Of Software Homogenization On Job Security.

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I though I'd take one of my pet theories out for a walk.

So this is the proposition:

In every sector that employs software in a central way there is usually a single dominant vendor who controls the market, so every serious professional is obliged to use this vendors product.

This leads to a situation in which anyone who has access to that software has a complete 'map' of that professions toolset, workflow and industry standard practices- all of these being exposed in the software itself.

Add to this the fact that the process of creating the software will already have imposed a rationalisation and streamlining of the workflow of the task, as required by the limits of computerisation.

So my conclusion is that the computerisation of many professions has lowered the barrier to entry not in just the obvious way of automating some of the task but also in the more subtle sense that it has enforced a homogenization of both toolsets and workflows that has greatly simplified the learning process and made these toolsets and workflows easily availalbe to anyone who can buy the software.

The craft guilds of the past were very jealous of their arcane knowledge because they recognised the power of professional obfuscation.

Todays equivalent will sell you their secrets in a handy boxed form accessible to anyone.

So- is the homogenization imposed by monolithic software itself a threat to those who employ it, by rendering transparent all of the methodologies they employ and making them available to anyone with the price of that software?

The modern computerised professional cannot guard his secrets, or even choose to deviate from the norm imposed by his software, since it is usually imperative that his output can be input by others into that same industry standard package.

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I though I'd take one of my pet theories out for a walk.

So this is the proposition:

In every sector that employs software in a central way there is usually a single dominant vendor who controls the market, so every serious professional is obliged to use this vendors product.

This leads to a situation in which anyone who has access to that software has a complete 'map' of that professions toolset, workflow and industry standard practices- all of these being exposed in the software itself.

Add to this the fact that the process of creating the software will already have imposed a rationalisation and streamlining of the workflow of the task, as required by the limits of computerisation.

So my conclusion is that the computerisation of many professions has lowered the barrier to entry not in just the obvious way of automating some of the task but also in the more subtle sense that it has enforced a homogenization of both toolsets and workflows that has greatly simplified the learning process and made these toolsets and workflows easily availalbe to anyone who can buy the software.

The craft guilds of the past were very jealous of their arcane knowledge because they recognised the power of professional obfuscation.

Todays equivalent will sell you their secrets in a handy boxed form accessible to anyone.

So- is the homogenization imposed by monolithic software itself a threat to those who employ it, by rendering transparent all of the methodologies they employ and making them available to anyone with the price of that software?

The modern computerised professional cannot guard his secrets, or even choose to deviate from the norm imposed by his software, since it is usually imperative that his output can be input by others into that same industry standard package.

hmm ... have you heard about BPM?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_process_management

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Interesting idea, but in many cases the software is merely another tool to do the actual job and by using it you cannot learn, or deduce, the thought processes and principles behind the function is it used for.

I'm speaking from my personal viewpoint of 3D CAD software. You could play around and learn how to use the software, but that would not mean you could design a mechanism that works or could be made etc.

Best analogy I can think of is if an alien came to Earth, he might be able to buy a car and even figure out how to drive it, but he would not be able to deduce on his own the rules of the road/highway code etc.

Edited by BTL Cattle

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I though I'd take one of my pet theories out for a walk.

So this is the proposition:

In every sector that employs software in a central way there is usually a single dominant vendor who controls the market, so every serious professional is obliged to use this vendors product.

This leads to a situation in which anyone who has access to that software has a complete 'map' of that professions toolset, workflow and industry standard practices- all of these being exposed in the software itself.

Add to this the fact that the process of creating the software will already have imposed a rationalisation and streamlining of the workflow of the task, as required by the limits of computerisation.

So my conclusion is that the computerisation of many professions has lowered the barrier to entry not in just the obvious way of automating some of the task but also in the more subtle sense that it has enforced a homogenization of both toolsets and workflows that has greatly simplified the learning process and made these toolsets and workflows easily availalbe to anyone who can buy the software.

The craft guilds of the past were very jealous of their arcane knowledge because they recognised the power of professional obfuscation.

Todays equivalent will sell you their secrets in a handy boxed form accessible to anyone.

So- is the homogenization imposed by monolithic software itself a threat to those who employ it, by rendering transparent all of the methodologies they employ and making them available to anyone with the price of that software?

The modern computerised professional cannot guard his secrets, or even choose to deviate from the norm imposed by his software, since it is usually imperative that his output can be input by others into that same industry standard package.

In every sector that employs software in a central way there is usually a single dominant vendor who controls the market, so every serious professional is obliged to use this vendors product.

No in every sector there are people who understand the technology and buisness and a sliding scale of bulshit artists

This leads to a situation in which anyone who has access to that software has a complete 'map' of that professions toolset, workflow and industry standard practices- all of these being exposed in the software itself.

hmm.. knowledge begets knowledge... but the map is not the territory...

If you want compatative advantage you have to pay... top dollar for the limited talent pool available...

Add to this the fact that the process of creating the software will already have imposed a rationalisation and streamlining of the workflow of the task, as required by the limits of computerisation.

depends how it is done.... ;)

So my conclusion is that the computerisation of many professions has lowered the barrier to entry not in just the obvious way of automating some of the task but also in the more subtle sense that it has enforced a homogenization of both toolsets and workflows that has greatly simplified the learning process and made these toolsets and workflows easily availalbe to anyone who can buy the software.

I dont know... some people are born technologists... im talking VMS zealots and Linux Gurus.. AIX

The craft guilds of the past were very jealous of their arcane knowledge because they recognised the power of professional obfuscation.

you think today is any different?? your just working in the wrong space... If your not skilled in the dark arts of ${SKILL} your not trying hard enough...

Todays equivalent will sell you their secrets in a handy boxed form accessible to anyone.

yeah right...

So- is the homogenization imposed by monolithic software itself a threat to those who employ it, by rendering transparent all of the methodologies they employ and making them available to anyone with the price of that software?

ha good one

The modern computerised professional cannot guard his secrets, or even choose to deviate from the norm imposed by his software, since it is usually imperative that his output can be input by others into that same industry standard package.

The modern computerised professional can totally guard his secrets, for even if he does not choose to deviate from the norm imposed by his software, it is he (its always a he) who understands the mind of the creator...

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I though I'd take one of my pet theories out for a walk.

So this is the proposition:

In every sector that employs software in a central way there is usually a single dominant vendor who controls the market, so every serious professional is obliged to use this vendors product.

This leads to a situation in which anyone who has access to that software has a complete 'map' of that professions toolset, workflow and industry standard practices- all of these being exposed in the software itself.

Add to this the fact that the process of creating the software will already have imposed a rationalisation and streamlining of the workflow of the task, as required by the limits of computerisation.

So my conclusion is that the computerisation of many professions has lowered the barrier to entry not in just the obvious way of automating some of the task but also in the more subtle sense that it has enforced a homogenization of both toolsets and workflows that has greatly simplified the learning process and made these toolsets and workflows easily availalbe to anyone who can buy the software.

The craft guilds of the past were very jealous of their arcane knowledge because they recognised the power of professional obfuscation.

Todays equivalent will sell you their secrets in a handy boxed form accessible to anyone.

So- is the homogenization imposed by monolithic software itself a threat to those who employ it, by rendering transparent all of the methodologies they employ and making them available to anyone with the price of that software?

The modern computerised professional cannot guard his secrets, or even choose to deviate from the norm imposed by his software, since it is usually imperative that his output can be input by others into that same industry standard package.

You are getting mixed up with software and workflows. Software is an enablement tool. To use that tool effectively, and actually allow the software system to work and make things more efficient, very careful management of the interactions between the users, other packages and customer demands is vital (and very often done very poorly).

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I though I'd take one of my pet theories out for a walk.

So this is the proposition:

In every sector that employs software in a central way there is usually a single dominant vendor who controls the market, so every serious professional is obliged to use this vendors product.

This leads to a situation in which anyone who has access to that software has a complete 'map' of that professions toolset, workflow and industry standard practices- all of these being exposed in the software itself.

Add to this the fact that the process of creating the software will already have imposed a rationalisation and streamlining of the workflow of the task, as required by the limits of computerisation.

So my conclusion is that the computerisation of many professions has lowered the barrier to entry not in just the obvious way of automating some of the task but also in the more subtle sense that it has enforced a homogenization of both toolsets and workflows that has greatly simplified the learning process and made these toolsets and workflows easily availalbe to anyone who can buy the software.

The craft guilds of the past were very jealous of their arcane knowledge because they recognised the power of professional obfuscation.

Todays equivalent will sell you their secrets in a handy boxed form accessible to anyone.

So- is the homogenization imposed by monolithic software itself a threat to those who employ it, by rendering transparent all of the methodologies they employ and making them available to anyone with the price of that software?

The modern computerised professional cannot guard his secrets, or even choose to deviate from the norm imposed by his software, since it is usually imperative that his output can be input by others into that same industry standard package.

I expect the dinosaurs were all running SAP before they went extinct

Similarly in the 1970s a world outside IBM or ICL Mainframes was inconceivable

If you run the same software packages as everyone else you may not be worse than them but you will struggle to outperform.

This is why certain market leaders in particular industries still have specialised applications in areas such as ordering and stock control to give them the edge.

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You are getting mixed up with software and workflows.

But what happens when the two become one? The conventional idea that software is 'just a tool, like a shovel' is comforting but maybe not accurate.

At what point does the software begin not just to reflect and replicate industry standards but become the de facto industry standard?

At the point where the software defines the workflow and the tools employed- it defines the profession and it's methodologies.

What I am suggesting is that unlike other tools software has a dynamic that is unique and that leads to a sitution where anyone with access to that software and gains command of it is not just learning a tool, but an entire thought process and methodology. What is exposed in the software is not just a collection of tools but a style of thought and action.

The more powerful software becomes,-the more it homogenizes the sector in question-, the more it exposes that sector to 'outside' competition in the sense that it has become transparent in a way that is novel and unprecedented.

At the very least the programme creators have, as a by product of their activities, created a learning tool which provides unfettered access to the inner working of that profession- for the very simple reason that the software is the inner workings of that profession.

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Yes .. you're right 100% correct .. of course it may not happen in every industry but it certainly has happened in the film industry ..

and especially in 3D ..

10 years ago or so I was in a post production house in Stockholm. Two months earlier they had taken on a 19 year old guy who had made a copy of an ocean liner in a commercially availiable PC program .. he was and is brilliant .. This is why all the big software manufacturers make student editions .. Also alot of post houses don't even have their people in the office .. they just work from home on a PC ..

On the other hand this will not make you a First AD .. you have to make tea for that ..

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So- is the homogenization imposed by monolithic software itself a threat to those who employ it, by rendering transparent all of the methodologies they employ and making them available to anyone with the price of that software?

No.

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Well you can teach any monkey to press buttons...

Software becoming advanced and or standardised means many non creative processes are being turned into button pressing exercises.

Heh way back in the 1990s creating 3d people was hard, then came the BIPED plugin which meant the gun battle animation that took me a whole summer to code polygon by polygon took minutes by 1999.

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In every sector that employs software in a central way there is usually a single dominant vendor who controls the market, so every serious professional is obliged to use this vendors product.

Would not say every, certainly not in electronic trading software. Even if not inhouse, still many different ISV's catering for multiple operating systems across asset class's and still no clear market leader out there. Also for more obvious reasons same of course applies to algo setups.

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How does this apply to the artisans, ie plumbers, builder, dentists, and the like?

I used to work in 3D animation, seeing it as a way to leverage my artistic skills ( I was trained as an Illustrator). But after few years I realised that the availability of demo, cracked and open source versions of the kind of tools I was using was creating an army of competitors who were able to skill up as fast, if not faster, than I was, despite the fact that they were sitting at home in their underwear.

I knew this approach worked because I had done the same thing to get the job I had! The difference then was that you had to have lot of money or know someone on the 'inside' to get access to the tools- that all changed fast as 3D took off and the software cheaper.

So I did a complete turn about and began to paint pictures on canvas with brushes made of hog hair- about as low tech as it gets.

But, to answer your question, my paintings are the product of mostly intuitive processes combined with a degree of muscle memory type motor skills and above all exist as unique artefacts that can only be produced in hands on fashion. So it is far more diffcult to codify these things into a software package, and the unique nature of the output is the opposite of software outcomes that can be replicated to infinity without degradation.

So people who manipulate real world artefacts are much safer in their jobs than people who manipulate symbols on screens I would argue.

Now I'm not saying that being a 3D animator is simply about the software- there is a talent component here as well. But the ability of a large number of people to access the tools I was using as a professional was not a trivial thing- it meant that the barriers to entry to my profession were far lower than similar professions in the past.

The point being that since most of the skills that made me valuable to my employer were software based, anyone who had a similar knowledge of the software- however obtained- was able to compete with me. And they were not only learning tools in a rote fashion either, and this is what the 'it's just a tool' people don't seem to get.

These guys in their underwear, using their cracked copies of software, were, without even realising it, learning a complete set of procedures, a blueprint, of my job. It was all there in the code- what to do to be me. :ph34r:

And it's this 'embedding' of the procedural- the workflow- that makes software tools so potent, so powerful a tool for learning.

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Wonderpup is right to some extent. But some software has a very steep learing curve. A software I use which took me months to learn (and that was with a little guidance) is bought by many people yet I'd say 90% of the people who buy it probably don't use it in an effective manner. And people who do use it effectively aren't in a hurry to put out comprehensive free tutorials for all.

Besides which the software I use is simply a small part of a bigger picture and strategy, the software itself probably only accounts for 10% of the tools at my disposal, the other 90% being knowledge built from experience covering large areas of business, marketing and IT. And most importantly, the right attitude.

If software is so great why do they call it the knowledge economy and not the software economy?

Edited by Saberu

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Yes I agree with the original post.

What happens is that the experience, knowledge and expertise that workers have amassed over the years in a job gets captured and codified into software and/or hardware.

And whats more those workers dont have intellectual property rights over the ideas and knowledge they have provided so they dont get paid every time its used.

And thats why profits are made from using the hardware/software because the users are not paying for the use of the idea to the person whos idea it was.

Take a car factory for example. Think of all the knowledge, experience and skill and expert that workers have put into the making of cars over 60 years that has been captured and has made possible these automated car factories we have today, with robots instead of workers that can be moved to anywhere in the world that has the cheapest overheads. This is one of the problems of free markets the workers never get paid the true value of the work done they only get paid for the hours worked.

The same applies to all manufacturing from making shoes to ship building and now knowledge based office white collar work.

A pop star gets paid royalties every time his song is played on the radio. This should be the case for every worker who has contributed something into a product, process or service. I dont mean the effort expended or the work but the ideas, knowledge or expertise.

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Computers and software shouldn't mix! :huh:

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I though I'd take one of my pet theories out for a walk.

So this is the proposition:

In every sector that employs software in a central way there is usually a single dominant vendor who controls the market, so every serious professional is obliged to use this vendors product.

This leads to a situation in which anyone who has access to that software has a complete 'map' of that professions toolset, workflow and industry standard practices- all of these being exposed in the software itself.

Add to this the fact that the process of creating the software will already have imposed a rationalisation and streamlining of the workflow of the task, as required by the limits of computerisation.

So my conclusion is that the computerisation of many professions has lowered the barrier to entry not in just the obvious way of automating some of the task but also in the more subtle sense that it has enforced a homogenization of both toolsets and workflows that has greatly simplified the learning process and made these toolsets and workflows easily availalbe to anyone who can buy the software.

The craft guilds of the past were very jealous of their arcane knowledge because they recognised the power of professional obfuscation.

Todays equivalent will sell you their secrets in a handy boxed form accessible to anyone.

So- is the homogenization imposed by monolithic software itself a threat to those who employ it, by rendering transparent all of the methodologies they employ and making them available to anyone with the price of that software?

The modern computerised professional cannot guard his secrets, or even choose to deviate from the norm imposed by his software, since it is usually imperative that his output can be input by others into that same industry standard package.

In industries I work in - a whole raft of different systems are available. The (few) big boys tend to use stuff from the likes of SAP. A company I pitched for business with a couple of years ago thought we were too small to provide a giant like them- and provide the support they want and the bespoke tweaks - and went for a system from one of the big houses. A million quid and two years later, they are still far from happy with it. Support is dire and as for bespoke tweaks, seems to be impossible.

Another client of ours got taken over a while ago by a big blue chip who decided they simply must spend 80k on one of the big helpdesk packages. They binned it after a year and went back to ours.

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I would agree in principle, when the tools used to perform a specific duty are not only standardised but also include within them industry wide pre-defined templated work instructions then yes, you will see less and less difference between how those people perform their duties.

Edited by JimDiGritz

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If software is so great why do they call it the knowledge economy and not the software economy?

KM was about trying to turn the former into the latter.

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