Among the ever-present problems for senior IT leaders is the hiring and retention of top technology talent. Matters are coming to a head as the drive to greater levels of digitisation has accelerated software development programmes. More software-driven digital initiatives means more programming. But with a finite budget and a general lack of tech skills across the industry, IT leaders are struggling to find and keep the people they need to support digital business initiatives.
However, thanks to the emergence of low-code, there is a potential army of citizen developers coming from the business who are eager to use low-code and no-code tooling to help them do their jobs better. There is a risk these projects become the 21st century version of Excel macros, where someone builds a useful piece of functionality that gets embedded in business processes, but the code is not managed or properly supported.
Clearly, IT leaders will not want this army of citizen developers to “reinvent the wheel”, where different people end up creating roughly the same functionality, or build functionality that is already covered by the software and systems provided by central IT.
A strategy for low-code use should offer a framework, which acts as a guardrail for citizen developers. They need to know what data stores they have access to and the application programming interfaces that allow their low-code/no-code apps to connect to back-end systems that power business processes.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been one of the major themes of 2023. A successful low-code strategy will enable IT leaders to focus developer effort on higher value projects like AI.
Analyst firm Forrester has predicted that AI is becoming the biggest growth area across the software industry and will drive mainstream adoption of AI in business. It predicts spending will increase from $33bn in 2021 to $64bn in 2025. This represents a revision upward of nearly 75% relative to Forrester’s 2020 forecast.
Similarly, during November’s Gartner Symposium in Barcelona, Gabriela Vogel, senior director analyst at Gartner, discussed how AI is now a key component of business strategy, saying: “AI is embedded in everything we do.” From a software developer perspective, this implies that in-house developed applications need to start becoming more intelligent. Business leaders see AI as a way to accelerate productivity and gain a competitive advantage.
The major software providers are busy embedding AI into their software and services. For internally developed applications, IT leaders are focusing on data-driven applications, where machine learning can be applied to improve the overall experience or make better predictions. This needs a different set of skills than traditional software development, which give programmers a chance to learn new and highly valuable skills.
Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 software developer stories of 2023.
1. Can low code/no code ease developer skills shortages?
Ever since organisations started pushing employees to “program” macros into Excel, the idea of “citizen developers” has taken root. On one level, there’s a lot of sense in it – why force software tools and processes onto employees across multiple departments, assuming they all work the same way? Software has always needed tweaking and where possible can be manipulated to be more relevant to certain tasks. As the old saying suggests, there really is no one size fits all when it comes to application development, but that hasn’t stopped the industry from trying.
2. An Agile development strategy needs a proper foundation
Software development is often viewed as a pipeline, and making the pipeline responsive to business needs is the goal of Agile development. But, to many organizations, Agile development has too many moving parts. Is there a simple approach, a minimum toolkit? If so, what does it look like?
3. Evaluate serverless computing best practices
Serverless computing has gone through significant growth in terms of adoption, features and capabilities since its inception. The core concept of serverless computing is to use compute capacity for software applications without the need to manage the underlying infrastructure.
4. AI engineers: What they do and how to become one
Artificial intelligence engineers are in great demand and typically earn six-figure salaries. An individual who is technically inclined and has a background in software programming may want to learn how to become an artificial intelligence engineer and launch a lucrative career in AI engineering.
5. The future of business software
Influenced by trends in enterprise architecture and new innovation, there is now more choice than ever for IT decision-makers wanting to build out a modern enterprise architecture and application portfolio.
6. Common problems with open source code integration
For all the business benefits open source provides — namely, the ability to customize software functionality through extensions at a low cost — it’s not without its own set of pervasive downsides. There are important security, privacy and management challenges to consider when integrating open source with internal codebases or deploying open source tools as part of organizational tool sets, six of which are absolutely critical to watch out for.
7. Key takeaways from KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2023
This year’s event included a number of announcements and a lot of discussion on how the current and future of artificial intelligence is built on Kubernetes, the CNCF’s first and most widely adopted project. While AI was a major focus of the event, there was quite a bit of buzz around advancements in cloud-native observability and sustainability.
8. Six green coding best practices and how to get started
From server closets within businesses to massive server farms underpinning cloud service providers, datacentres run applications all over the world. All that processing, writing to memory and other activities use a lot of power, as well as generate a lot of waste heat. While datacentre operators can tackle green initiatives at the physical hardware and facilities level, developers and testers can contribute with green coding.
9. Low-code and no-code development platforms
Computer systems have changed society over the past several decades, reducing the human effort involved in many tasks. However, the task of programming computers to do these things has remained largely a human one. Of course, programmers don’t type out the 1s and 0s that constitute the primary binary language of basic computer instructions – this is generated by more abstract programming languages. How far can that abstraction go?
10. How to mitigate low-code/no-code security challenges
More organizations than ever are adopting and employing low-code and no-code application development approaches. This is largely due to the simplicity and ease of deployment involved, as well as efficiency in creating applications quickly. With this agility and simplicity, however, come a wide variety of potential security risks that could lead to data exposure, system and/or account compromise, and other significant security issues.
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