Tackling developer talent shortage is key to digital transformation acceleration

As millions of businesses increase their digitalisation efforts across the globe, the demand for talented developers continues to surge dramatically – creating both a burgeoning skills gap and job dissatisfaction for many. Organisations must take responsibility when it comes to embarking on digitisation journeys by taking the first step for these developers, rather than making them do all of the legwork themselves.

What it takes for companies to enact a successful digital transformation has been at the forefront of industry discussions for some time. The general consensus? It requires more than just tech. Thankfully, it has begun to hit home for organisations that the combination of people and process is the most beneficial way to guide and inform new solutions. But, when it comes to the people element, are we already asking too much of the developers available?

A growing demand

The global pandemic brought about a lightbulb moment for businesses of all sizes who were still resistant or reluctant to accelerate their digitisation efforts, and organisations are still learning that being digitally adept is now a truly all-encompassing trait. This has naturally resulted in a significant increase in demand for software developers to manage new innovations. In fact, a recent survey suggested that 64% of companies were looking to hire up to 50 developers this year.

As the need for developers continues to rise, it is becoming increasingly apparent that there is a burgeoning talent shortage in this area. And by ‘burgeoning’, it’s a trend that has been simmering under the surface since 2018, as reported by Gartner. Even then, the talent shortage was among the top five emerging risks for organisations. In reaction to the report, 63% of senior executives admitted the shortage of developers was an area of concern.

This adds a whole new challenge to the digital transformation narrative. Adopting solutions without human specialty is a route to disaster, but by not creating the most attractive and productive environment for developers to thrive, you are equally at risk of alienating them, or pushing them to burnout.

Considering the competition for such expertise is so fierce, finding this balance is now just as important as the tech investments themselves. These developers need an olive branch – a sign that you’re doing what you can to make their roles more efficient and achievable. Low-code and RPA may well be that olive branch; when combined, they enable organisations to automate processes quickly and easily, through new applications and process flows.

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The pattern of influence

The reason why businesses must address this human element is twofold. On the one hand, the relationship between person and machine fostered within a company culture is now a prime factor as to whether a developer will work for you in the first place. According to Forrester’s Digital Transformation Requires Development Transformation report, ‘Languages, frameworks and other technologies I’d be working with’ was listed as the most important job factor; even ahead of buzzwords like flexible or remote working. Attraction and retention of a scarce human resource is therefore tied into how well an organisation links digital transformation to the people enacting it.

The second element is the transformation itself. Innovation at this level is no simple feat. Advanced software delivery capability is the catalyst for digital innovation, and that digital innovation is the portal for business security, resilience, robustness and revenue.

The pattern is quite linear in this respect. Having a requisite culture in place that firstly attracts one of the few developers that are available to your organisation is the first step to success – a culture that allows that developer to perform to their best without being overrun and burnt out.

Low code: A multifaceted solution

This is where low-code comes in. While decision-makers in the c-suite may not have the knowledge to carry out a digital transformation within existing frameworks – hence the need for a developer – they can prepare a digital environment that will alleviate some of the burden from said developer.

Low-code tools use prebuilt libraries and functions to remove some of the infrastructure building elements that require so much time and skill. From an initial investment standpoint, according to a Forrester Research survey, and as reported by TechBeacon, around 70% of IT leaders have found that low-code platforms are more affordable in comparison to traditional development platforms. 80% confirmed that low-code enabled them to meet their requirements within budget.

In terms of customer benefits, around 90% of IT leaders also reported that ‘the flexible design of low-code platforms helps to significantly improve customer experience compared to traditional development platforms’.

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Transitioning into a collaborative future

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) tools such as low-code are increasingly being seen as a key solution to this issue of developer attraction, satisfaction and retention. That’s because low-code, due to its ease of use, can be utilised by other members of the business – including those with lower levels of technical skill – to create solutions and drive change, fast.

This not only relieves some of the burden and expectation from an already in-demand colleague, but it also indulges that cultural element once again. That aforementioned olive branch encourages mutual understanding and collaboration between developer and business user.

Whilst organisations are increasingly recognising that people need to be at the heart of achieving a digital transformation, there remains a people shortage when it comes to developers. It is therefore time for companies to attract them with a new proposition that offers a more collaborative and integrated journey, rather than luring them in, locking them away and forcing them to go it alone. Low-code can take care of the initial steps, and the rest of the journey together can be completed by you.

Written by Richard Billington, CTO of Netcall

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