I have been an independent spreadsheet developer for 25 years and an independent Access developer since 1992. In that time I saw my rates triple and the billable hours sustained to the point where I was able to consider myself a “professional” of some kind and where I considered my gig equivalent to a “job” in IT management. I fear that unless something is done, and fast, by people who have the ability to influence the marketplace (and it isn’t people like me by the way), the jig is up – so to speak.
I am seeing a market where corporations will simply not spend money on Departmental applications as they gather all their IT Dollars (or Euros or Pesos, etc, etc) into a circle behind the Enterprise computing model. Worse still I see where all IT spend is now controlled by IT themselves therefore the era of “Departmental” applications arranged, planned and paid for by Line of Business managers is over. IT has taken the levers of all spend on technology – even spending on a small database or a budget spreadsheet application.
This means several things:
1. In the near future corporations will in effect be run by user-developed (mostly bad) spreadsheets as IT fails to deliver the lower-level technology solutions that people like myself have delivered for the past generation.
2. There will be no funds available for anything like a “professional” class of specialists in the area of Spreadsheets and smaller databases (such as Access).
3. It is time for people who are currently employed by or who have a long-term gig with one client doing their internal specialized Excel and/or Access apps to realize that if their gig disappears (which it eventually will – NOTHING last forever – especially in this business climate) they will have to go do something else – or work as a volunteer – and stop kidding yourself. They must consider their options and soon.
The tragedy of all this besides the obvious personal tragedy for us who ply our trade in this space, is that there will ALWAYS be a need for this kind of work. Furthermore if there is no way that people (especially younger people) can make a decent professional living supporting this space and see a future for their efforts, there will be no new players and no continuity.
The loss to Companies everywhere (both directly and in lost opportunities to be more productive) will be huge. The loss to Microsoft will be significant (but they’ll never notice – or at least they’ll never admit it).
Have a nice day 🙂