My first degree was in civil/transportation engineering, and after I finished my studies I briefly worked in a transport consulting company. I had been programming since I was twelve, and at some point I chatted with my boss about the possibility of a career in programming. This was about 25 years ago.
Here’s what she told me: “Ten years ago, if I wanted to do a simple computing task, I needed to hire a programmer. Today I do it myself in Excel. It seems unlikely we will be needing any programmers at all in a few more years.”
Time proved her wrong. Today programmers are in high demand. Although we may be using programs adaptable to many different situations, such as spreadsheets and “ERPs”, we always want a little more. More likely we want a lot more.
Is this going to stop at some point? It’s hard to predict the future, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. In the world of logistics, for example, there’s so much software around, and yet people are still building their own customized software.
I’ve said that developing your own software is often a worse solution than buying off-the-shelf. But people do it, and the reasons they do it are valid. For example, their company processes might be their vision—and they might want to adapt the software to the company rather than vice versa. It can be a hard choice. If custom software development was cheaper, more people would develop their own. I think the balance will not change much in the next few years.