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Modernize the application, but retain the expertise

Nadhan on ‎03-12-2013 05:42 AM

Modernization of legacy mainframe applications has been progressing for years. Enterprises take strategic steps to modernize, driven by key business drivers and financial benefits. However, the applications on a modernized platform still require the basic, time-tested skills of software engineering and system architecture. Those same skills laid the foundation for software development at the dawn of IT. When enterprises modernize applications, they should not lose sight of these basic skills. In other words, technology must be modernized while retaining the art of software engineering.


Here’s a practical example: According to this article by Valerie Bauerlein in the Wall Street Journal, cursive writing is no longer going to be taught in some schools. This is because the children of the next generation are more used to typing and texting, with no need to write in cursive. Advances in technology have eliminated the need for what was basically an original art form for centuries. The medium for written expression has been modernized, but does this mean we no longer need the skill to write in cursive? Maybe so. But let’s correlate that example with another. For this, I urge you to take a look at this video in the The New Scientist where 3D printing is used to make sculptures in the air. This is an excellent example of the science being modernized with every need to retain the art. Do you think one could exist without the other?

 Cursive Quill.png

Cursive writing requires significant coordination between the hand, the eye and the human brain. Writing in cursive enables us to develop a sense of supreme coordination of our primary senses, resulting in an exquisite, harmonized expression of our thoughts. It hones our basic human skills much like a symphony orchestra delivering a flawless masterpiece, symbolizing coordination.


The 3D plastic pen is an excellent example of technology and science being modernized. What’s interesting is this technology is being used to effectively deliver practical results requires the same hand-eye coordination as cursive writing. Perhaps schools should reconsider their decision to eliminate cursive writing and ensure that such artistic skills continue in future generations.


Human skills should not be a casualty of technological advances. We drive technology to improve the quality of our lives, while retaining and growing our core human skills.


Like NASA CIO, Linda Cureton mentions in her blog, “Things like virtual machines, hypervisors, thin clients, and swapping are all old hat to the mainframe generation though they are new to the current generation of cyber youths.” Enterprises that have modernized their applications should take into account the following considerations.

  • Availability and accessibility to the foundational software engineering expertise within the enterprise
  • Comprehensive understanding of the manner in which core processes have been architected and enabled by software applications
  • Institutionalization of the quality strategy for software applications across all platforms independent of generations of software and engineers

Factoring in these considerations will enable enterprises to modernize to an environment that has a healthy mix of computer science and human art.  For enterprises that don’t, the writing may be on the wall — hopefully in cursive, 2D today — with even more emphasis in 3D tomorrow.


Connect with Nadhan on: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Journey Blog.



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