product versus support

A recent comment in Rod Drurys blog made me think about what I didnt like about ICT in NZ.

And, I just wondered…. if you split IT spending into two camps right, the “Product for lots of people” camp, eg, orion health, xero, silverstripe, sidhe, etc and the “Im building/supporting software for one user” camp.

Obviously, the first camp is the cool camp. And the second camp is the government/telecom/bank/big business camp.

So heres my thesis. Camp 1 in NZ is tiny. Camp 2 in NZ is HUGE.

Corollary: IT in NZ is pretty dull, because Camp 2 is the not-very-fun camp. Camp 1 is where the cool kids hang out, doing really neat stuff.

Obviously, the division between the 2 camps is not crystal clear, those vendor types who build websites and things for multiple clients for example… ah, stuff it! Throw them in camp 2. That doesnt sound amazingly exciting to me!

So anyway, if I tell someone that IT is cool and fun and exciting, I’m obviously talking about camp 1, not camp 2. If you want more people in this industry, camp 1 needs to get much much much bigger.

Anyone have any idea about relative proportions between the 2 camps? Anyone have any ideas how to encourage more product development and less support?

product versus support

4 thoughts on “product versus support

  1. I would guess that camp 2 is much bigger around the world, it’s just that it doesn’t get media attention. I mean, if a product is for one customer, why would anybody else want to know about it?

  2. i expect it to be much bigger, but I have a feeling in NZ that it is much smaller than for example in the US. Just a feeling which is why I’d be interested in some stats…

  3. Kerry says:

    To be brutally honest, I think you’re underplaying the symbiosis here. Camp 1 to a large extent is people from camp 2 who had a problem that needed solving – in scratching that itch they created a product – the key being that they solved it with a product generic enough to be used with other people’s itches. Ideally this camp 2 would be open to spinning off products and Rod or one of his commenters alluded to this I think – actually, from memory, telecom and IBM created billing systems way back which they ended up spinning off, so there is a NZ precedent.

    In the govt sphere, I can see a push is towards open sourcing IP and shared services between organisations – as with anything in govt, this is an evolutionary process.

    In some ways I think the more meaningful split in NZ IT is within camp 2 – between the MS oriented shops and the Unix oriented shops. Obviously the sharing of product between these camps has been limited in the past and is restricted to the web-service type product – which our broadband infrastructure has tended to retard.

    That’s my 2-cents worth, anyway.

  4. hey kerry, thanks for that. Actually, Im not sure Im underplaying symbiosis between government/big business and product dev shops. Im not really sure there is very much, if any, symbiosis.

    my experience in big shops is most decisions are made slowly, made by people who don’t really have the experience to make them, and once made, are almost never revisited. Meanwhile, the IT landscape charges on like a crazy boy racer with the evo X and paid up insurance, and the big shops are stuck with the old decisions, like granny in an old mini.

    seems very unlikely, if not impossible, that this sort of environment will drive product, which pretty much needs to be cutting edge to survive.

    On a slightly less cynical view, the reality of producing software for a large corporate, with its myriad of rules and special cases makes it incredibly unlikely to discover the generic product necessary for productisation.

    so… how do we encourage more product development here?

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