Category Archives: Market update

My top 10 predictions for Software Development in 2017

mjs-future-predictions-2017

These are my predictions, based on nothing more than my observations over the year so far.

 

  1. Machine learning is going to be BIG – demand for anyone with commercial experience or a PHD in Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence will be massive. Watch out of Neural Networks and Bayesian Optimisation

 

  1. Microservices will continue to be adopted, driving up demand for the skills like SOA and RESTful Webservices, and driving down contractor rates

 

  1. React will overtake Angular the Front End space

 

  1. Enter Kotlin : a new Jetbrains language, based on the JVM there are already a handful of commercial projects in flight, but I think this new language will gain more traction and recognition this year

 

  1. Growth of Web-based mobile apps – and therefore less demand for specific iOS and Android developers

 

  1. PAAS – I’ve seen a lot of service-based companies building Platforms As A Service encouraging their buyers to cut down their own internal infrastructure teams, and I think this trend will only continue

 

  1. OpenStack and DevOps As A Service projects – we’ll see the technologists who have learnt to use these tools this year hit the market in 2017

 

  1. NancyFX (an “OpenSource” Microsoft lightweight development framework) will become an in demand skill in the C# development world

 

  1. Software Development Engineers In Test become increasingly in demand – we will continue to witness the steady decline of manual testing skills as automation and agile methodologies continue top penetrate the Software Test Lifecycle

 

  1. Enter the Age of “X is Code” – Infrastructure As Code, Networking As Code, etc. It will become increasingly harder for any hands on technologists who are non-coders to compete for the top positions

 

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Where technology companies are based in the UK

A number of my clients have recently been telling me about new offices they have got or recently opened in other parts of the country. Having up until very recently lived in London (and never dreamed I’d ever live anywhere else), now that I have moved out, I was quite interested to see where the other tech hubs in the UK were, using techbritain.com my results were quite surprising:

London: 2,467

Manchester: 212

Reading: 205

Birmingham: 183

Edinburgh : 118

Newcastle: 106

Cambridge: 105

Brighton: 90

Cardiff: 80

Sheffield: 64

Leeds: 57

Oxford: 53

Bristol: 33

Southampton: 24

UK tech company distribution

Early 2015 technology market update

A new client of mine recently asked me to provide an update on what’s happening in the development and technology market right now, so I thought I would share it here. Comments in the comments please:

The introduction of the HTML5 standard has precipitated the rise of the OO Javascript, Javascript frameworks (Angular, Ember) and full stack Javascript (NodeJS, Empress, Angular) developer skills. These skillsets are now commonplace in the contracting world, although developers with greater than 3 years solid experience in pure Javascript development is rare as the language has not been used in its present sophisticated form for longer than this time.  The Angular, Ember and NodeJS frameworks are not older than 3-4 years. Prior to this Javascript was almost exclusively used as a “toy language”, one to be used in conjunction with an OO language like Java, C# or PHP on the front end.  Consequently there is a large skill shortage in this area, so we have seen all the usual signs of a hot market – other developers hurriedly converting to this language, most of the supply is contract based, developers coming from overseas to fill the skill gap, permanent salaries are outstripping like for like with the standard OO language developers. Many of the enterprise scale companies have attempted to solve this supply problem by creating their own Javascript expertise through graduate schemes.

The Ruby, Python and Javascript languages are the development languages of choice for start-ups.

Some banking bonuses have recovered however most of the top investment banks appear to be planning to pay a low or zero bonus again this year.

Big data technologies continue to revamp the Business Intelligence industry with Hadoop, Mark Logic, MongoDB and AWS  leading the way. Handling data in general is a big  trend in the market and therefore we also seeing a new cadre of developers who are interesting in specialising in C++.

The internet security market continues to grow as more and more awareness of security vulnerabilities are exposed. We see this is a large scale trend in the technology recruitment industry.

Scala and other functional languages are today, less “the next thing” and are now far more mainstream. It appears that the hype over the past 4 years has not materialised into Scala pushing any of the major development languages (Java, C#, C++, PHP,  Python Ruby, C, Objective-C) off of the top most used positions.

We now see web specific languages and frameworks far more frequently on  developer CVs than previously, reflecting the general buoyancy of internet-based eCommerce business, e.g, Ruby on Rails (RoR), Grails, Django, and C# MVC.

Mention of the Agile methodology appears to have become compulsory citation for developer CVs.

DevOps continues to be a hot market with supply generally not meeting demand. Much of the market is therefore contract based or the skillbase is more recently acquired skills. DevOps generally refers to a deployment manager who can manage the deployment of  software applications onto cloud-based servers. The programming / configuration languages of Puppet and Chef are therefore hot technologies right now.

Developers based in the UK are expected to have an ever increasing amount of contact with the business that their applications support, leading to an ever increasing demand for developers with good communication skills.

In the last 6 months to a year, we began to see greenfield projects begun in the finance sector that were designed to generate revenue rather than satisfy regulatory requirements. This was in total juxtaposition to the proceeding 4 years.

In the past 2 years we’ve also seen an increased appetite for developers to consider working for a software vendor when considered against working “inhouse” for a large corporation.

London continues to attract large numbers of developers who are not based in the UK. Many of the European developers now being attracted are Spanish, Portuguese, Italian or Greek. Typically candidates from the Southern Mediterranean have strong national accents and poorly suited to analyst or client facing roles. The high cost of living coupled with improved salaries means immigration from Poland, Czech Republic and the Baltic States has dramatically slowed down. We are seeing some developers come from Romania and Hungary following the recent lifting of immigration restrictions, however the established nature of the IT markets in Bucharest and Budapest and their relatively decent standard of living means that the bright lights of London are not that attractive.

Finally we believe we are at the very earliest days of what will be a major trend over the next 5 years which is the “internet of things”. This is the industry devoted to connecting non-traditional computer platforms via the internet (such as your car GPS system to your home’s central heating system and making your house warm up before you arrive home in the evening). At the moment British Gas’s Hive product is the highest profile operator in this exciting new industry.

 

This graph showing the popularity of each programming language in the market is very interesting: https://image-store.slidesharecdn.com/9495a4a0-2db2-4245-b712-0e313264e54b-original.png

What is CQ5 and will Adobe kill its Golden Goose?

CQ5 logo (one of the many)

What is CQ5?
CQ5 is Adobe’s flagship Content Management System and the leading CMS in the market. Like any CMS you can use it to build and maintain your web presence, but more importantly you can use it to capture your online visitor behaviour and convert customer interest into sales. It works on multiple platforms (so its totally compatible with browsers, ipads, smart phones etc) and it uses the latest HTML5 technology, so it looks great.

What’s so good about it?
It seems that Day Software, from whom Adobe bought the platform, just got it right. Developers report that its easy to use, it’s powerful, it’s scaleable, it integrates with 3rd party systems well, it deploys nicely, the list seems to go on and on. But I think from a market perspective it’s so popular because 1) it uses HTML5 (so visually it looks great) and 2) it does all the things that top ecommerce companies like Facebook do (under the guise of “community engagement” and “customer experience” etc); so most importantly its an easy sell to business heads and CEOs.

The technology:
CQ5 is a Java-based CMS, and by making it multi-platform it’s taken Java’s “Write Once Run Anywhere” philosophy and applied it in a modern setting. The stack is essentially JSPs and HTML5 but it also uses Sling and JackRabbit, and it sits on an OSGi service platform.

The Past:
CQ5 was written by Day Software in Basel, Switzerland, and was the application side of their Enterprise Content Management offering (the infrastructure side being called Day CRX). CQ die-hards will tell you that in the early days (until about 2005) the platform was written in server-side JavaScript, but the most interesting thing about the history of CQ is its identity complex:

The Many Names of CQ (in chronological order):
– Day Communiqué WCM
– Communiqué
– Day Software’s CQ
– Adobe CQ
– Adobe WEM
– Adobe WCM
– Adobe Experience Manager or AEM (now its current manifestation)

The Present:
CQ was bought by Adobe mid 2010 but the market for CQ (and so for CQ developers) really kicked off in 2011. It came into my sights last year when I noticed that big companies like IG Index and Nike were using it, since then it’s increasingly been picked up by global banks and wealth managers – obviously Adobe came along and its fortunes quadrupled.

The cost is one thing to note however, as the license is notoriously expensive and because many companies’ CQ experience starts out with specialist consultancies, that cost is multiplied even further. Interestingly there is an Open Source (read “free”) CMS by a renegade Day team called “Magnolia” but despite also being Java-based it remains a commercial nonentity.

The Future of CQ5 and “Will Adobe Kills its Golden Goose?”
Adobe is busy adding new functionality to their “AEM” – by integrating it with their already extensive software suite – in an attempt to maximise the commercial return on its current popularity. Which makes you wonder how long it will be before they start to close down its open source compatibility and lock subscriptors in to only using their branded products. It also makes you wonder how long it will be before so many Adobe products have been integrated into the platform that they start to kill it through “bloatware”.

Many developers tell me that they suspect Adobe’s constant name changing is a result of their failure to actually understand what CQ’s market is, and why it is a commercial success. The latest name is “AEM”, and if they aggressively push this and seek to push out the “CQ” brand they are going to damage their brand recognition and lose customer loyalty – which is going to make it much easier for the next competitor to push them out of the market.

Whatever you do in 2013, don’t…

Don’t quit your job before getting a new one.

Sayonara

This is a subject I speak to so many developers about. We start to discuss their next career move and they reveal that they are planning on quitting their job soon so that they will become immediately available for a contract. The logic being that only technologists who are immediately available are eligible for contract positions…

Notice periods

There are two problems with this course of action. In my experience it is a complete fallacy that you can only get a contract position if you don’t have a notice period. If you are the right candidate for the position nine times out of ten the client will wait 4 weeks for you to start. Now at this point I would point out that my experience of recruitment is purely limited to the financial markets, so I am not speaking for any other market; but despite clients almost always stating that they would prefer to hire a candidate who can start straight away, in practice they are always happy to wait for the right candidate.

A deep recession

Despite the appearance of “green shoots” in the banking sector, we are still very much in a deep recession at the moment. Everyone who reads the papers or has any contact with life outside of the Square Mile can see that. They’re even talking about the country going into a triple dip recession (not a new icecream flavour) – so the idea of quitting your job without already having lined up something to go to is madness. The contract market is still depressed, and there are still lots of contractors out there looking for their next contract, so competition for each position is fierce.

“Ready to go contracting”

After about 5 years development experience many developers start to consider the prospect of going contracting. In general contracting is a good career option for someone who is a strong technologist but not interested in team leadership or corporate titles. The problem is that the contract market is not buoyant at the moment, with many of the investment banks trying to replace contractor numbers with permies. So there are lots of developers out there who feel that they are “ready to go contracting” but have not been able to.

My advice to these people is to be patient. Quitting your stable, permie job in the hope that it will make it easier for you to find a contract will not make it happen faster. Doing so runs the risk that you will end up waiting for months without finding that dream contract job, or even end up taking another permie job! You might be ready, but if the market is not, nothing you do will change that. If you are determined to go contracting, I think you are better off either staying where you are and applying for contract positions as and when you come up (despite your notice period) or taking a new permie position that will improve your prospects to enter the contract market when it does pick up. But one thing is for sure, being unemployed in a recession is no fun.

A Brave New Banking World

A Brave New World

A technologist I am currently working with tried to post this as a comment on my previous post – I couldn’t work out how to get it on the comments either, but I thought it was posting here:

Indeed, the entire banking sector is recovering. However, several aspects need to be taken into account before being truly optimistic:

 – the regulatory landscape is very different from what it was 5 years ago, and is now imposing new capital requirements which will prevent banks from massively investing in growth

 – clients have been showered with risk suddenly becoming reality. The volumes in equity are still well below what they were before the crisis. They may never come back.

 – more regulation, more risk management, more automation (to cut operational cost) means more IT, meaning that many open IT roles may  simply reveal a change in staff balance, rather than a global recovery. 

On the regulation front I would add that the burden of regulation comes in two forms: less profit and the obstacles it creates for the business

My predictions for the Java development market in 2013

It appears that in 2013 the economy will continue to remain largely flat, with hiring continuing at the same slow rate that we saw in 2012. This year we saw hiring driven largely by regulatory changes, replacement of contractors by off shore and permanent resources, a rise in specific-tendered-for consultancy work and a limited amount of strategic projects driven by long-term, global business decisions.

In 2013 a number of high profile banks will be recovering from regulatory fines levied in 2012 and it looks as if we are yet to see the full fall-out from the Libor scandal. July 2013 will see the new Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney take control of Threadneedle street, I don’t know much about his approach but I have heard that he doesn’t like QE and that he is also likely to increase the base interest rate during his tenure.

So not great news to bear in mind during the festive season, but probably no surprise to anyone as no one has really been predicted a massive improvement in the economy in 2013. It is interesting to reflect that when the economy crashed in 2007, there were some hard-to-believe predictions that the economy would take 10 years to recover, 5 years later and it doesn’t look so hard to believe. Saying that I have started to hear that things will look very different in 2014, and that despite any national economic predictions, the City might well do very well indeed…

It is worth bearing in mind that every market has its winners and losers, and some people will be making lots of money this year, so my overall advice to Java developers for 2013 is to get your CV ready, so that you can capitalise on good opportunities when they come along.

My tips for 2013:

THE GENERAL RECRUITMENT SCENE

• Offers have been largely flat this year, so make career choices that will pay off in the long run rather than the short term. Opportunities that will increase your technical portfolio, your business skills or project management experience will all help your career to continue to develop during these difficult financial years

• If you have a want to achieve a big pay rise – say you believe you are being paid about 10 – 20k less than your market worth – you are unlikely to achieve it with one career move. HR and procurement are looking closer than ever at percentage increases on basic salary / daily rate, and large increases are becoming much rarer. So making a strategic move in 2013, with a view to moving on again the year after, will be more likely to get you where you want to be, rather than simply waiting for the economy to pick up in 2014

• Many budgets will continue to remain flat and BAU work will reign. This will make opportunities to work on greenfield projects will hot property

• The contractor share of the developer market will continue to suffer as employers continue to look to make savings by hiring permies and outsourcing.

• 2012 was not a good year for experienced developers in general, be they contractors or permies, with juniors being in especially high demand. I don’t think 2013 will see any change

• Offshoring and nearshoring will continue to increase, with countries like Poland and the Ukraine being the main beneficiaries, whilst Hungary, Romania, Israel, Vietnam, India, Singapore, China and Russia also benefiting. A knock on benefit of this will be continued demand for dev managers with offshore and Agile experience.

FINANCIAL REGULATORY REFORM

This year we have seen more a dramatic increase in stringent regulatory requirements coming from Dodd-Frank, Basel III and the FTT, I think a rule of thumb will be:

• The French Financial-Transactions Tax (FTT) or “Tobin Tax” is threatening to wreck the Euronext market, and therefore much of the UK high frequency trading market, taking a large chunk of UK revenues from FX and equities trading with it

• Basel III will wreak serious damage to the fixed income business, as new capitalisation rules mean many bank’s revenues from fixed income trading will be down

• Dodd-Frank will seriously limit the ability of the investment banks to make money out of derivatives products and exotic swaps (continuing to reduce the effectiveness of the OTC derivatives market)

HOT TECHNOLOGIES

• Java 8 will be released in the summer providing Java developers with the ability to write Lambda expressions into their code for the first time, a feature that has been widely enjoyed by C# developers since 2007. Java 8 will also include the final components of Oracle’s new Rich Internet Application package “JavaFX” which was otherwise released with Java 7

• 2012 now looks like it was the year of Big Data and NoSQL, and I expect both technology veins to continue to do well in 2013. Both were picked up to varying degrees by the financial markets and were largely used for their analytics features in response to regulatory reporting requirements

• Scala is still gaining in popularity with many developers in the City having learnt it in their spare time and 2012 saw an increase Scala projects led from top down. I suspect the trend will continue in Scala’s favour over 2013.

• Adobe’s CQ5 UI suite really took off in 2012 and I suspect it will continue to do so in 2013.

• HTML5 is now practically considered an industry standard and will continue to solidify its position in 2013

• Mobile and web applications will continue to grow in importance in 2013 – I don’t think this market has reached its potential by any stretch. As security measures improve for iOS we will continue to see increased utilisation of smart phones and tablets for business purposes by sales teams, portfolio managers and traders

That’s all from me for 2012. See you in the new year!