Today, I attended the graduation party of the eleventh batch of The Faculty of Computers and Information Technology for the year 2010 in Mansoura University. I was invited to give a quick speech to the graduates and to give them an advice that would help them define their future careers.
I was really excited to see all the enthusiasm in the eyes of the fresh graduates and I wanted to share my full-length speech details with everybody here because I didn't have the time to make everything clear to the audience especially with sound quality problems in the hall and organisation issues. My speech follows...
First of All I want to congratulate every single engineer of you that you made it so far. You guys are the true assets of this country and are hopefully a valuable addition to the computer science market in the middle east.
I would like to talk to you today about three things: Futuristic Thinking, Business Thinking, and Direction & Trend in the coming years. So, let's get started.
The software industry is very exciting and challenging as things keep changing all the time, sticking to one technology or one platform does not make sense anymore, you are simply dead if you couldn't keep up to the pace of the technology, you must keep your shoes warm and your fitness high all the times to learn new stuff, throw away old stuff, and to do thinking shifts regularly.
When I started teaching Linux in Mansoura eight years ago (around 2002), I was literally the first guy in town who ever introduced the idea of speaking about different operating systems and people were shocked that other alternatives exist, they even argued that Linux is valuable in the industry and can be usable. Today, more than 800 Linux engineer have graduated from Mansoura and arguably I can claim that Mansoura today has the largest Linux user community in Egypt!
It's important to understand that the future is what matters the most and not the mean time, you have been learning in the past few years to fit into a future job that may have not existed at the moment. You are/were/will_be building a skill set to enter a market that will have different characteristics by the time you are ready to enter. So, it's crucial from my opinion to understand that looking at the current state of technologies alone is silly! In addition to the current state, you also need to study and understand the history and expect/anticipate the future, which I admit that it's not as easy as it sounds. This needs guidance, mentorship, and lots of efforts to stay up-to-date with the changes happening to the technology world. But again, it's crucial!
In the past few years I learned a lot about how businesses work and topics like sales, marketing, economics, finance, and etc. and before then I didn't put any significant effort in learning that area. I though (As we were taught) that engineers shouldn't care about that, business people should.
Then I discovered that this is absolutely ridiculous! Typically, you are in contact with the business side of the world everyday as an engineer, writing proposals, giving technical sales presentations, planning for projects cost are only a few things to mention. Also as the entrepreneurship buzz is gaining more momentum in the region, you need more business knowledge to bootstrap your business plan. You need to understand terms like
Cash Flow, and etc. and I believe that the combination of engineering and business is absolutely marvellous!
In the coming few years we will need more technology startups, we need every guy with a brilliant idea to be able to bootstrap a successful business story and to create jobs instead of looking for ones and I'm pretty sure that many of you can and will do that isA.
Directions and Trends
In that past ten years the growth of the internet users in middle east was magical! The Middle east had 1825.3% and the rest of the world were around 432%. Egypt alone had a growth rate of 3691%! Over 17 million users of the internet. I believe that the significance of the web to the middle east will become even higher in the coming few years.
The middle east has a population of 380 million with penetration rate of the internet of 29.8% (around 63 million internet user) and I expect that those numbers are to double or triple in the coming couple of years.
The middle east has a unique nature, one language (Arabic), almost one religion (Islam), and mostly the same culture. Given the previous facts and the fact that less than 2% of the internet content is in the native language of that region, the demand of building genuine arabic applications that fits the culture, religion, and language will grow vastly in the coming few years. You got to be part of that. We know this region best and I think you can develop the best applications that were never thought of by international corporations because you simply natively belong to that region!
Secondly, Egypt is ranked 20 in the world for the number of mobile phone users with around a daily growing 55 million users. Also the sales of the smartphones are gaining a remarkable boost. Expect to have 60% of the mobile market in our region to shift toward the smartphones by 2014/2015.
Smart-phones introduced an unparalleled opportunity to build blasting apps that utilises the modern hardware of those small portable personal devices, and an opportunity to market those apps with a few clicks of your mouse. An ecosystem that brought application developers and consumers to the happy land of mobile applications. With that in mind, I think that the future of small startups heavily depend on entering this market correctly.
Thank you for your time and I hope you enjoyed the analysis.
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