Going Home

I am still struck by how many of my peers (mid 30s, poss married or in an equivalent relationship, maybe kids) still talk about “going home” to mean going to their parents’ house.

Maybe people have an idea of what “a home” looks like and compared to this the flat they own in Zone 2 seems like a stopgap measure.

Or maybe you can never really feel “at home” in a big city, unless you were born and bred there.

Or maybe it’s just a London thing.

In search of the $10 developer

I am pretty surprised that people still do software development where costs are high. For example Google are advertising for engineers based in London, Zurich and Dublin. Seems nuts when there are very highly skilled developers around the rest of the world who can deliver the same value for a fraction of the price.

Having said which, the price differentials between countries are themselves pretty staggering. And can change rapidly (e.g. prices in India are now far above the rates you could get in 1999 for millenium-bug testers, as has the level of skill, I am sure).

In this fragmented market I expect to see the development of trans-border outsourcing companies who can deliver quality developers at $10 an hour irrespective of where they happen to be based. And as a customer I could buy the services of this company even if this year that means my development is in India this year, next year in Russia, next year in China and next in Vietnam.

When suppliers benefit from online auctions

At least if they are hoping to break into selling to public sector bodies in the European Union.

As we approach the anniversary of the implementation of the new EU directive on public procurement it’s worth reflecting on some experiences under the new regime.

In a nutshell the new regulations force buyers who are using auctions to build all the weightings for non-price attributes (delivery, quality, service, etc) into the auction. So the auction is no longer just about price, but the supplier in 1st place is the supplier with the best overall value for money.

Why is this good news for suppliers?

1. To win the business a supplier does not need to have the best price. To win the business a supplier needs to offer best value for money.
2. And what the buyer means by “best value for money” is made completely transparent in an auction scenario.

Any supplier who has received a vague debrief after failing to be awarded a contract (or who received no debrief at all) will recognise the benefit of knowing, up front, exactly what the buyer means by “best value for money”.

Feedback from suppliers that I have seen so far is positive towards these kinds of auctions as compared against the traditional price-only auction. But what is now becoming clear is that suppliers are actually better off going through this auction than by not going through this kind of auction.

With these new kinds of auction (jargon: “multi attribute” and “weighted” – the difference is subtle and not important for now, but it’s as well to know the terms) each supplier knows exactly where they stand at any one time. Exactly where they stand means just that: at any point you know whether your offer is the best value for money or whether it is not, and if it is not you will know exactly how much more “value” you will need to add in order to be best value for money.

Any new supplier who is trying to break into a market will recognise the benefit in knowing exactly what the buyer wants and being able to compete against the incumbent on a completely level playing field.

So while incumbent suppliers will never want to encourage competition, new suppliers would be well advised to encourage buyers to run these kinds of auctions.

We’re all geeks now

Over Christmas with my parents, cousins etc.

  • My uncle talking about whether to buy a new computer now or to wait until Vista comes out (ok, to be fair, he called it “Some new program from Microsoft”, but even so)
  • My dad talking about using eBay (hell, I hadn’t even used eBay until two days ago and I’m the one working in the online auction industry)
  • My mum talking about her recent installation of broadband and Skype
  • Debating with my aunt the merits or not of printing out your digital photos

Unthinkable even 2 years ago.

At the same time that technological evolution (not just Web 2.0 but even such prosaic things as Windows and USB cables) makes technology easier to use, more people use it and therefore their level of ability with it increases. A virtuous or vicious circle, depending on your standpoint.

The same goes in the workplace. Ten years ago people outside the IT department didn’t really want to know what the geeks did. Nowadays it’s often the people outside the IT department are the ones with the coolest ideas of how to use new technology to do business better. I have a theory that as much, if not more, technical innovation comes via the CEO’s kids than out of the IT department.

It’s a real challenge for Technology Leaders if they are to avoid irrelevance over the next few years. And I haven’t heard anyone with the answer yet. Though, again, I have a theory that the following will help:

  1. The IT department must always be aware that what was right last year probably won’t be right this year
  2. It’s pointless trying to stem the tide of future innovation just because it is inelegant or a potential security breach or because you didn’t think of it