What to Pay Attention to as Automation Upends the Developer Experience
The developer experience is changing faster than ever. Here's a primer on where things stand right now and what developers can expect.
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What a year to be a developer.
As organizations rush to adopt more automated technologies driven by low code, generative AI, and other fast-moving innovations, developers accustomed to more traditional hardcoding practices will face increasing disruptions to set practices. But the transition will repay a willingness to change with significant dividends: developer automation promises superior efficiency, developer experience, and accelerated time-to-market with new application features and iterations.
Capturing this automation opportunity will allow more developers to access powerful emerging technologies, eliminating requirements for specialized expertise and other cumbersome barriers of traditional manual coding. Backed by this new automation, any developer will be equipped to easily harness advanced AI, IoT, blockchain, big data, and other capabilities in their applications.
Automation Efficiency and the Developer Experience
Automation stands to transformatively improve developer experience, which will go a long way in winning wary developers over to the idea of accepting new practices. Leveraging low-code application development is fast becoming a standard route to automation for dev teams. With low-code development environments, developers leverage pre-packaged code modules, assembling them like building blocks within a drag-and-drop UI to build complete applications. With low code, developers can eliminate the tedious manual work common to traditional application development, replacing block-and-tackle tasks with a far more automated process. The full benefits of low code give developers a lot to like, including reduced frustration and errors, as well as greater speed, agility, and focus on the interesting feature development that developers get excited about. That superior automation-driven developer experience will give enterprises a leg up in recruiting and retaining developer talent as well, serving as a beacon to attract top prospects.
Low-code automation can accelerate application development many times over compared to traditional methods (minimum 10x, in my experience, with the Interplay platform at Iterate.ai). That new efficiency frees developers to deliver application improvements more quickly, and to keep current with fast-shifting market needs. Thus, developer automation drives competitive differentiation on top of a superior developer experience.
Low-code modules abstract capabilities derived from AI/ML, big data, IoT, voice, blockchain, and APIs, enabling developers with no specific hard-earned expertise to harness those technologies with plug-and-play simplicity. Currently, the most exciting development in automation technology is generative AI, which allows teams to expedite development processes, especially in tandem with low code. As an example, GitHub Copilot augments developer efforts with suggestions and assistance throughout the coding process and the ability to generate code automatically. Further generative AI tools like GPT-4, the conversation and search engine, can solve coding questions and deliver valuable developer training and support, even for developers leveraging low code.
Developers' Roles in an Effective Automation Strategy
Amid this positive talk about automation’s benefits, let’s be clear: the disruptive shift toward automation requires developers to accept significant changes. To unlock those productivity gains, developers must undergo their own transformations, building more valuable skillsets around automation to better use development and deployment tools, work with data and more.
Enterprises will be required to evolve as well to keep pace competitively as automation sweeps development practices forward. In the scramble to complete digital transformations and harness new tools, hardware, data capabilities, and appropriate security, some organizations will thrive while others fall behind. That said, embracing automation and capitalizing on its competitive advantages and developer benefits is far, far better than the alternative of being left in the past.
Approached strategically, developer automation ought to remove block-and-tackle application setup, error mitigation and other busywork from developers’ plates, instead enabling a focus on high-value work such as innovative feature development. An effective automation strategy should also anticipate rising data complexity, and meet it with investments in reliable data infrastructure and attention to data integrity. Robust data capabilities will serve as a strong foundation for AI/ML and related task automation peripheral to development, such as data entry and process handling. An automation strategy must also adapt to changing technologies and business priorities, to ensure continued access to valuable innovations and new processes. The right strategy will also enable developers to utilize automation and tooling across an expanding set of use cases and incorporate automation-driven features in their applications.
Developer Automation and Data Accessibility
Empowering developers to utilize automation within applications largely hinges on data access. Applications leveraging IoT, computer vision, and similar features must leverage vast quantities of data in real time. Achieving that data access means implementing infrastructure, organizational support and processes that enable efficient data collection, rapid growth, and scalability, and continuous optimization via feedback loops.
Enterprises pursuing this data-driven application development have much to gain from low-code automation. Case in point: the world has only 60,000 trained data scientist engineers, and only 300,000 AI engineers. Organizations reliant on traditional hardcoding cannot achieve the competitive differentiating features they have their sights on, such as contextual responses to customer feedback, without first winning the competition to hire and retain these experts. In contrast, those that enlist low-code automation equip their existing development teams to fully harness advanced data, AI, and automation capabilities using abstracted code modules.
The Automation-Backed Developer
Slow and limit-bound traditional hardcoding is now overdue for replacement by automation that accelerates development to a rapid pace, transforms developer experience, and removes barriers to today’s most advanced technologies and data utilizations. Automation-backed developers will be expected to respond to market needs and deliver iterative application improvements and features at a rapid clip, and be fully empowered to do so.
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