The Best IT Gig On Earth (clue - it's not building mobile apps!)

Date published: Thursday 13th of October 2016

Two days ago, I had a call from my client (I only have one client these days!). He was happy. The reason why he was happy was because he had just landed an investment of 34 million pounds. This is only the first installment of what will be an investment of 170 million pounds in total. For all you American folks, that is not too far from a quarter of a billion dollars.

Now, forgive me if I brag a little here but if this client of mine was here - right now - then he'd tell you that the thing that has made the difference and made all of his success possible is 'the system'. That's the name that we have for the Codeigniter based system that manages his call centers as well as deliveries for many thousands of new cars every year. It's half a million lines of code. All build with Codeigniter. All built by me, on my own. All solid. All working. All generating fortunes.

When you watch YouTube videos from people like Stefan Mischook, you'd be forgiven for thinking that PHP driven web development was dead and that all of the best gigs involved mobile app building. In a video posted, just a few days ago, he also suggested that maybe AI is a good thing for developers to get involved in. It seems to me that the whole vibe is, 'anything but PHP'.

Now, I like Stef Mischook. I think he is cool and I'm a fan. He even once did a guest show on the DCRN. I like him! However, in this instance, I think he's missing a huge opportunity and - as a matter of fact - I think most PHP developers are taking their eye off of the ball. The big newsflash is that the best IT gigs in the world don't involve building mobile apps, AE or even things that use javascript frameworks.

Do you want to know what the best, highest paid, most in demand gig is?

It's building systems. Building IT systems.

Now, let me be clear about what I'm talking about here. I'm not talking about public facing websites. That's a good vibe, don't get me wrong, but with Wordpress and Drupal on the scene, the price for websites has just been going down and down. Most people now expect websites to be a few hundred bucks, even with custom features. I happen to think India has played a huge part in driving down the costs of web development, but that's another story.

In any event, the good news for developers is that there has been a silent shift of mindset which has happened over the last two years - and for some strange reason, nobody seems to be talking about this. So, here is your inside scoop for the day.

Within the last two years, the business world has developed an expectation that company IT systems (formally called 'intranets') should be hosted on the web!

So, a few years ago, web applications were for websites. Right? So, you'd use something like Codeigniter to build things like online shops, forums and so on. There was an assumption and expectation that web applications were somehow low level and intranets - such as the kind of IT systems you might find being used in a university or a call center - are high-brow, sophisticated and nothing to do with the web. This has all changed.

Today, more and more companies - like my own client - are embracing the benefits of having their entire companies ran by IT systems that are hosted on the web. In other words, they want web applications. The benefits are clear. If my client's office goes on fire then his data and his business will be safe! He can also have staff members working from anywhere in the world. Over the last two years, the word 'intranet' has pretty much disappeared from the vocabulary of the business world. Web applications are where the action is! If you know how to use a framework like Codeigniter, then you are perfectly positioned to make fortunes, provided you know how to score gigs.

The advice is clear and the news is good. You don't need to learn about mobile app development or javascript frameworks if you want to earn a good living as a web developer. Don't get me wrong. It's good to learn about new technologies. I encourage you to do that. However, the business owners whom I've dealt with are eager to avoid things like AngularJS like the plague. As a matter of fact, within the last year, I have been paid to take down a perfectly functional AngularJS apps and replace it with a jQuery based app. New technologies like AngularJS and the newest Laravel framework are technologically impressive, but untested in the business world. That's why big business avoids using technologies like Laravel. Companies who are listed on the Dow Jones (and I've dealt with a few) hate framework rewrites and they generally don't want to use bleeding edge web technologies. Again, that's another story.

The key takeaway is, Business owners don't care about PHP7. They don't care about namespaces. They don't care about Composer, migrations or even PHP's new spaceship operator. What business owners today really want is solid, dependable web applications.

So, if you know how to use a framework like Codeigniter then relax! You are in the right place at the right time. There has never been a better time to be a PHP developer, and the vibe is good.


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