With today's Internet-based communications environment, new technologies can hop, skip and jump around the world in a matter of moments. Within minutes after the proverbial two guys in a garage the next generation of Wozniak and Jobs unleash some razzle-dazzle technology upon the venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, it will show up in Bangalore, and Karachi, and Beijing, and St. Petersburg, and Manila.
According to Cutter Consortium Fellow Ed Yourdon, author of the 1992 watershed book The Rise and Fall of the American Programmer, the global economic boom and the associated high-technology boom that prevailed all through the 1990s may just have been delaying factors in the IT job migration to India.
"I think that many of the jobs that are shifting overseas now from the US are never coming back just as nobody seriously expects shoe manufacturers, textile companies, or even automobile companies to shift from Mexico and Asia back to the US. That's particularly true for the low-end IT jobs, such as maintaining old COBOL programs," says Yourdon.
Yourdon suggests that the U.S. must do something to stimulate the creation of new jobs, along the lines of the great seismic shift of the early 1990s as enterprises moved from mainframe hardware (with dumb terminals and third-generation programming languages), to client-server technology (with PCs, GUI-based workstations and interpretive 4GLs, such as Visual Basic and PowerBuilder).
Yourdon continues, "Let's assume the economy recovers, some brand-new high-tech 'killer app' will excite the business community in much the same way that client/server technology did a decade ago. If that happens, I predict that there will be a lot of 40- to 45-year-old client-server programmers and even some 30 to 35-year-old Java/Web programmers who will find themselves unable to make the transition quickly enough to keep their jobs from being taken by the brand-new generation of college graduates."
Yourdon concludes, "And here's an even scarier thought: the next razzle-dazzle technology may be created in Bangalore. It could be created in Karachi or Beijing or various other parts of the world, too, but Bangalore now has venture capitalists. That, in itself, is an ominous sign: some of the traditional U.S. venture capital firms are shifting their investments from Silicon Valley to India. And from personal experience, I can tell you that Bangalore also has some very hungry, very ambitious entrepreneurs. With a population of a billion people, there are plenty of low-paid programmers who will maintain old COBOL programs as long as you want them to; but the next generation of Indian IT professionals firmly believes that the U.S. no longer has a monopoly on innovation.
"And if they're right, which they may well be, then the IT industries of the U.S., Canada, England, Western Europe and other advanced countries are really in trouble."
More information about Ed Yourdon is available at http://www.cutter.com/consultants/eybio.html.
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