Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Software programming should be taught like a second language



In the 21st century... a digital age, coding should be learnt by all.

Currently in the shadows, the web 3 phase is at its beginning (bell curve).  In this blog, web 3 follows web 1, the pre-dot.com bubble phase and web 2, the current with the wave of new internet start-ups aka sharing economy, social media, etc ie. the rise of the mostly consumer service providers.

Web 3 moves tech from the back office (this is what IT is mostly used for up till now) to the front.  While web 2 is mostly about the service providers, web 3 is about companies and organisations, finally using the internet for business.  Instead of treating the homepage as the cover page of their annual reports, progressive firms are now turning them into real shop fronts; for marketing, to generate sales, for revenue generation, to re-invent themselves.  This is lead by the traditional retailers threatened by the online retailers who have stolen the momentum, and is slowly making its way to other commercial sectors.

That is to say with companies seriously moving online, ‘weberising’ will be part of its DNA and used throughout the organisation.  As this happens, we will find executives itching to use the internet for their part of business.  A retail brand executive could quickly write an app himself to take advantage of Paypal’s Beacon (location tracking devices placed in retail stores) to push his own products in a general store.  Waiting for the traditional IT department to do it will take so long, the first mover advantage will vanish.  It is about digitalisation of businesses, mostly outwards towards their clients and partners.

How many passionate executives wished they can do a quickie app to complement their upcoming marketing campaign?  Actually they can.  Programming is now much easier than when I started with assembler coding.  There are tools to help them, hiding and taking care of the complexities.  They only need logic and to know some basics.  It is certainly much easier than learning Japanese!  And I’ll say maybe 5% of the effort of a traditional program.  But I don’t expect many 40-year old executives doing this.  Most have the outdated impression that programming are for whizz kids.  So schools and parents should start them.  Young professionals should too.

“The fact that some SAP employees are actually taking the initiative to build their own applications also speaks to the trend of “shadow IT,” where end users or individual departments buy and deploy products without the involvement of technical staff.” - CIOs need to rethink their roles, MIT symposium panelists say, By Chris Kanaracus, IDG News Service, May 22, 2013 

Another trend is that globally entrepreneurism seems to be on the up and would be a significant part of any economy.  Many startups are looking at the internet pot of gold even for those in conventional businesses.  Many now see it as integral to their business.  But most are not computer science graduates and many who rely on partners who are find themselves at a loss when partnerships break up.  And statistically, most do.  It’s a handicap.  They ought to learn to develop websites themselves and most need some level of programming (but not deep).  There are many good online courses available, free to help them.

Working adults ought to view programming as another language to acquire.  This will be good for a career moving forward, now steep within an internet economy.  And like ABC, kids should start to learn programming early.  In this 21st century, programming should be taught at school to all students.