Just knowing how to program is helpful

I’ve had a bit of insight into how non-developers use computers in support of their job. One example in particular was of a Finance company who offer quite a sophisticated service for their clients, but the back-end is anything but.

Turns out they use Excel as some sort of transport mechanism. Occasionally using SQL Server as a datastore, but mostly it’s a manual job of copy and pasting from various data-sources into a lot of different Excel spreadsheets. All cobbled together with VBA to generate other spreadsheets which then feed into another system or two to generate some fantastic looking reports for the clients.

But really? Surely there’s a better solution than all of that manual - incredibly susceptible to human-error - process?

Well, it turns out that there is. Lots of options, in fact. SQL Server’s Integration Services could be a good start. But there were other stages, like uploading data to a remote web-service, which are trickier to automate and would require writing a little bit of bespoke code. That said, we’re talking a couple of weeks development effort to save something like four hours a day - forever…

Which got me thinking how powerful it is knowing how to program, if you’re doing a job that isn’t necessarily I.T.

Then just yesterday, I read the following after seeing a link on Hacker News which seemed apropos.

Programming as a profession is only moderately interesting. It can be a good job, but you could make about the same money and be happier running a fast food joint. You’re much better off using code as your secret weapon in another profession. – From Learn python the hard way: Advice from an old programmer

I like the idea of that. Carrying through the skills I have into another profession. Only question is… which profession?