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Inverted pyramid of skills

· 2 min read

Picture the pool of available skilled technology workers as an inverted pyramid. Each level is dependent upon the technology skills of the level below it. The higher one goes on the inverted pyramid, the more common and less expensive the skill set. The lower one goes on the inverted pyramid, the less common and more expensive the skill level.

At the bottom of the inverted pyramid are the hard core software engineers and computer scientists. The hard cord build the basic stuff necessary for computers, such as compilers, programming languages and operating systems.

The second level up are architects and engineers. Architects build large scale enterprise applications that run companies. Architects understand how to build mission critical applications, but they rely on hard core workers for the tools they use.

The third level are developers or programmers. These workers can build business applications using programming languages such as Java and JavaScript. They can create database structures and use event messaging. They need supervision to build more complicated systems.

The fourth level are the scripters. They can write automation scripts in python. They can write complex queries in SQL. They are power users in Excel. Most offices have a scripter to help automate tasks.

The top level are the clerks, the business users. These workers use software all day to accomplish their business tasks.

Note that there are no concrete delineations between the levels of the pyramid. For instance, a really good scripter could be considered a junior programmer.

This inverted pyramid concept has direct implications for software startup strategies. Software for scripters will have a larger market than software for architects. The more a product can push up to the scripter level, the more readily it will be adopted by the market. That is why the Web exploded in the 1990s. Any scripter could build a website.

That is why Excel is the most widely used database in the world. Excel is not supposed to be a database, but that is how it is used. Databases are needed everywhere in businesses, but there are not enough developers or even scripters available. Excel is the most clerk friendly option available.