The Great Specialization Fallacy

We should always have in mind this question: “Are we working on the best solution to meet our needs or goals?” Many times that is not the case. Most people are blissfully unaware of this as they imagine that their colleagues wouldn’t suggest anything but the most adequate solution. That assumption, however, is incorrect more often than not.

Over the past couple of decades, we have seen a curious phenomenon arise: extreme specialization.

Today, tech professionals are dividing themselves up into classes such as .Net developers, Java developers, front-end developers, etc. People working with IT infrastructure are also split into the categories of Microsoft or Linux professionals.

This behavior is incentivized by tech companies which employ every means available to convince professionals that their great products should always be used in conjunction with some of their other products. These companies create what are called Stacks, sets of applications that combine their various products with one another and/or with open source components.

But what’s the matter with that?

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The Temptation of Vaporware

Vaporware is a term coined to describe software and hardware products which were talked about by the companies working on them, long before being ready for the market. Many such products never end up getting to the market, at all.

In fact, looking the term up on Wikipedia will lead you to a reasonably lengthy article which starts as follows:

“Vaporware is a term in the computer industry that describes a product, typically computer hardware or software, that is announced to the general public but is never actually released nor officially cancelled.”

While the practice of creating vapourware products has been used successfully or not by several companies to gain market penetration or hinder a competitor’s chance of getting such penetration, such practice can lead you into a pernicious trap. Once you’ve started talking about products which you haven’t yet finished, or sometimes even began to develop, you might find yourself hard pressed to deliver on the vaporware vision you created.

I’ve had the opportunity to see more than one company make this mistake, sometimes even multiple times.

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