IBM Podcast: Michael O’Connell interviews Steve Mills

I was listening to the podcast of Steve Mills being interviewed by DeveloperWorks. The nice thing about these podcasts is that they are transcribed, so you can read along.

There were a few bits of information that were interesting to me. I was listening to the podcast passively, so I may have missed some even better points.

A quote from Steve Mills regarding the number of hands that touch IBM software:

“In fact, the total IBM software development community for commercial products is about 33,000 people. That’s inclusive of all of the programmers in STG, as well as the programming communities within IBM Research that are involved with building software in conjunction with the laboratories”

And a quote from Michael O’Connell:

“…from a developerWorks standpoint our traffic — the majority of our visitors — come from outside North America”

I see the same effect from this blog, most of my traffic arrives before I even wake up in the morning. India and the UK are the two primary countries that read this blog.

Also, towards the beginning of the podcast, Steve talks about the development process found with customers and how they may require updating:

Frankly, I think one of the biggest challenges customers have around the development of applications is that they far too often over-scope their projects. My view is that you’re better off in an iterative approach — time boxing the effort, minimizing team size and recognizing that the best software products or the best software implementations are created over a period of time through iterative approaches that keep refining the underlying functionality, scalability, usability.

I’m a fan of iterative development and in the field I see far too many companies staying with the ‘single project in isolation’ mentality that creates a lot of one-off services and Frankensteins that haunt the business for years after the project is completed. I’m happy to hear IBM pushing customers to improve their development process.

At the bottom 1/3 of the transcript, Steve goes into what IBM does to foster a community internally. This includes technology like DogEar or Bluepages. Of course, there is no mention of creating and maintaining an external community by leveraging these resources.

Where I begin to disagree with Steve is when he mentioned DeveloperWorks as a driver of features and capabilities into the products that come out of software group. This is something that I have practically never witnessed. DeveloperWorks is a one-way fire hose of information. As far as I can tell, I can’t even recommend topics. I also have never see discourse open up between IBM and the users. Just because you include a comment text box and a rating at the bottom of the page doesn’t mean that it’s now an interactive experience.

I also monitor the DeveloperWorks forums and I never see the complaints of today addressed in the products of tomorrow. Users are left stumbling in the dark together towards what is either the light of a solution or an oncoming train.

Maybe the future direction of DeveloperWorks is to become the external interactive focal point between IBM and the community at large. To say that it is already that today is incorrect.

Author: dan

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