Aussie developers better for the Web than large data stores: R&D Manager

"We have to go through a lot of people before we find the right thing," said Guy Harrison, Dell software Melbourne-based Managing Director for R&D for information management.

"We go through Java programmer for Java programmers, and find all they really know how to do is to create a website. Web development is almost like to join the dots – but for commercial software development, you people who can solve problems in the new domains. "

Guy Harrison(Photo: Guy Harrison)

This has been done to build up the Dell software local brain trust a constant challenge for Melbourne-based R&D team that Harrison heads, who joined the growing Dell software family with the company's $ 2.4 billion acquisition of business software giant Quest Software late last year.

Quests in progress R&D investments — that revolve around database, business intelligence and large-data development — "is not very common these days with major software companies," Dell software ANZ Managing Director Ian Hodge said, but it has become more important "as we move from what was effectively a hardware company that everyone knows a USD 1.5 billion software company and an end-to-end solutions company".

To support this goal, Harrison wants to build an Australian team filled with problem solvers – but find that most programmers will come from local universities are not math-oriented, and "stop doing things they think are more sexy, like game development or the softer skills that are guaranteed to lead to a relatively easy job, as web development".

Universities could raise the bar by introducing advanced education or postgraduate qualifications in Masters of Computer Science recently introduced at American universities at the Illinois Institute of Technology – but he admitted that it is a chicken-and-egg problem, because few students will operate the field if they feel that there is a guarantee of relevant projects.

"You take a bit of a leap of faith right now, if you are trained as a computer scientist to the explosion of science-oriented job will actually happen," he said. "The next step in the company's success will harvest data with smarter algorithms to get ahead of other companies."

It's not a gamble that many people will be willing to produce large data and business analytics field improve their overall branding and recognition. However with analytics roles rapidly gaining seniority within software development organizations, in many cases, see the possibilities already.

Companies will increasingly value the developers ' analytics skills as they move to embrace mathematics as a competitive weapon, Harrison added, noting the specific challenges that retailers face to face new competitive threats.

"Globalisation and the internet makes it difficult to always be the cheapest supplier," he said. "You must be the one that gets people's attention first, which offers a unique combination of products that they want, that prices dynamically to match their circumstances."

Most industries are finding new value in big-data application that the Dell software team is focused on helping design. Over time, Harrison would reinforce R&D the position as a global centre of expertise in the development of data-driven analytics, which he sees as core to customers ' business strategies — and Dell software success – in the long term.

"In any industry, is there any advantage of algorithms," he explained, "if having better churn detection, better advertising, better medical outcomes forecast. There are not a lot of software that will help you get this done — but the smartest who do it by brute force, and brain power. "

"You want to get the smartest people in the world to build your algorithms, and one of my groups are working to create software that makes it easier to build up these algorithms for advanced machine learning. So I think they are these types of skills that we have to build out our universities – but I do not know if everyone has totally bought into it yet. "