Every company has a narrative. This is Critical Masses’ story:
Let’s get formalities out of the way, for now, Critical Masses and Jake Ochs are synonymous. There’s no pretending here that we’re some big corporate entity with a fancy telephone PBX to fool company x into thinking they’re dealing with a large established development shop. We are one, literally. The story of Critical Masses’ journey and that of Jake Ochs, principal, developer and consultant are identical.
Jake started his professional life working for Binary Tree, an innovative boutique software consultancy in the Wall Street area of Manhattan. At Binary Tree, Jake assisted in the conceptualization and design of several successful internal software development projects as well as providing top-notch satisfaction for his corporate clientele. In particular, his experience in dealing with several layers of clientele as a consultant and developer was found to be particularly rewarding. It was during this time that Jake discovered certain truths about his preferred line of work.
- The ability to “sling code” pales in comparison to the ability to communicate successfully with the client or intended user base. Understanding what the users want, need and what they think they want is part skill and part talent. Owing to some fortunate genetics and a minor in English Lit. Jake feels he possesses both valuable attributes.
- Developing tools for the knowledge management space is a source of particular pleasure for Jake. It started as a nexus of skills in programming some of the more advanced features of Lotus Notes –still a premier application platform for workgroup related activities- and evolved into integrating myriad legacy and standards based existing systems into a tapestry of services that promote stories of institutional value.
After Binary Tree, Jake continued his work with NetASPx, where he helped develop ASP solutions for messaging and groupware. Experience in this arena led Jake to believe in two maxims that still hold, for the time being:
- Messaging (as in e-mail, not message queue services) is a commodity, and should thus not require a lot of institutional attention. If it does, something in the process of managing the messaging resource may very well need re-evaluating.
- Groupware is one of those umbrella terms that, by its very broadness, defies commoditization. This, then, is an area where a consultant with extensive skills and experience in heterogeneous systems and environments -as well as a yen for communication -can focus an institution’s priorities and requirements into useful systems that promote:
- Institutional knowledge
- Communities of Practice (CoP)
- Streamlined practices
Post NetASPx, Jake tried his hand at offshoring, an area that has been shown to have a lot of potential and dynamism in recent years. In Jake’s experience, the considerable savings proffered as bait for institutions to shift their development to this model has some serious side-effects that are not widely understood:
- The order of magnitude decrease in developer cost per hour is greatly mitigated by the order of magnitude increase in hands-on attention required due to cultural differences and physical separation (yes, it DOES matter.)
- The tendency to “black-box” the entire development process because of its outsourced nature often leads to moments of clarity wherein the realization that the approach taken needs to be reexamined occurring much later (potentially disastrously later) in the development timeline. This, obviously, is not a good thing. Any developer will recognize that mistakes occur and the best developers recognize and correct their mistakes early on.
During his latest stint developing a complete knowledge sharing smorgasbord for a major NGO, Jake took the plunge and incorporated as Critical Masses Technology, Inc. (CMTI.) Jake realized that his body of work and philosophy regarding knowledge management, sharing and software development in general represent his particular brand of e-business karma, and would be best promoted through its own, and therefore Jake’s own entity. CMTI has two purposes:
- To serve as the consultancy for leading and innovative approaches to technology solutions that drive down a company’s cost to deploy, use existing undervalued assets when available, raise Community of Practice awareness, and adhere to a Pragmatic Programming philosophy.
- To serve as the ownership entity for a variety of utility software products and services developed from Jake’s ideas and experiences.