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Re: Y Store now C++

John Morrison wrote:

> On Tuesday 25 February 2003 10:04 am, Sundar Narasimhan wrote:
>>Most of them suggested that they'd either been told to learn it by
> [ what *they* said -- snip snip ]
> One of our sales guys once shocked me by saying that while it may be
> true that salespeople lie, they do not lie nearly as much as customers
> do.  His point was that customers do not *deliberately* lie, but they
> often do not understand what is really causing their pain, in much the
> same way a patient "lies" to his doctor.

I had a very direct experience of that on my last job.  We were 
attempting to help insurance companies do rating and risk assessment. 
They had shown us several of their rating methodologies and claimed that 
they had the following problem:  Actuaries did not have enough insight 
into and control over the implementation of their methodologies.  They 
wanted to be able to write the implementations themselves.  We looked at 
their methodologies and determined that they could be directly 
translated into a suitable functional language.  We proceeded to 
implement said language with much input from the customer.  It was 
actually very nice with built-in database access, good sequence support 
(which was crucial for mapping their methodologies directly), and a 
(IMHO) novel approach to dealing with parameters that changed by region.

We implemented one of their simpler methodologies in this language and 
showed them the result without telling them what it was.  The actuaries 
said things like:  "Hey, I can READ that!" and "Look!  That's our 
<mumble> methodology".  They were highly pleased.

As it turned out, actuaries didn't really want to write code.  They 
considered it beneath them.

The rest of the story bears on the larger topic:

We thought, "Okay, the actuaries don't want to write code but this will 
still allow us to produce more understandable and reliable rating 
calculators". -- and in fact, it did.  The people who implemented the 
rating calculators claimed drastically increased productivity and a 
better quality product.  The actuaries could _read_ the resulting 
methodologies which greatly reduced the usual QA cycle.  Everything was 

Until... one of our competitors started telling the customer that they 
were becoming dangerously dependent on us.  If we failed, they'd be 
stuck with this code in a "proprietary language".  Plus, they could 
never hire anyone to write in this language.  Etc., etc.

So, they payed through the nose to translate their applications to Java, 
even though we were willing to put all source code in escrow in case we 
failed and they clearly could get people to write the code as they were 
already doing so with people who had no particular applicable (or 
applicative :-) background.

All in all, a very depressing experience.