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What do developers want?

In my sales travels I talk with a lot of developers in energy and commodity, banking, investment, and insurance markets. A common thread I hear is the challenge of leveraging existing investments in code and data, gaining access to new resources, and enhancing their capabilities with appropriate new technologies. 

Now, this may seem like one of those “good, fast, cheap: pick two” dilemmas. But I believe that it is a fundamentally different problem.

If you are a smaller firm, you probably have a tech stack that is mostly purchased, with some customizations done either in-house or by the vendors. These tools don’t do everything that the company wants, so there are also a bunch of add-ons and workarounds built with whatever tools are handy. You and the team are supposed to focus primarily on managing the overall infrastructure, building out and modifying your custom analytics, and improving the front end for your users. But you end up spending a lot of time helping people manage, patch, and maybe even understand what’s going on with the add-ons and workarounds.

If you are in a bigger company, you probably have a tech stack that is at least partially built and customized in-house. Like the smaller firms, these tools still don’t do everything that the company wants, and there is a long list of pending engineering changes. So there are a bunch of add-ons and workarounds that you spend too much time supporting. And maybe it’s becoming difficult to hire new people because working on the legacy code base is unappealing.

I believe that the solution to both of these problems is to move towards a platform that can integrate with both legacy systems and new tech, abstract and delegate away the infrastructure management and operations that you don’t want or shouldn’t have to deal with, and provide a flexible path to the future.

This type of change does not and cannot happen overnight. It is a gradual process that chips away at different parts of the existing stack, as both users and developers become familiar and comfortable with the platform and use it to deliver new insights into the company’s decision making that they could not do before. Each success encourages others to take a look, and over time more and more people are working in a common, shared environment that provides both a sandbox for exploration and innovation and a ready path to a stable and properly governed production environment.