Taking a composable approach to mitigating developer burnout

Paul Crerand, field CTO EMEA at MuleSoft, discusses how taking a composable approach using reusable APIs can reduce developer burnout

Skills shortages are one of the oldest problems in the book for IT departments. The demand for digital knowledge has been steadily growing over the past decade, to the point where it threatens to outstrip supply. However, the challenge became more acute during the pandemic, when almost every organisation came under intense pressure to accelerate their digital capabilities. Teams were able to rally to answer those demands, but the lack of developer talent could have a real and lasting impact on enterprises and their customers. As existing teams are stretched increasingly thin, a major risk of widespread developer burnout beckons.

How close is mass burnout?

There’s no denying the outsized role developers have in most modern organisations. If every company is now a software company, then these are the teams working away in the engine room to power business growth. Their value was at an all-time high before the pandemic. Now it’s rising through the stratosphere, as organisations look to drive digital transformation for a new age, defined by hybrid working and soaring customer expectations.

Research shows that the volume of digital initiatives doubled during the pandemic, making things even more challenging for developer teams already stretched to the limit. Competing for their time are not only innovation initiatives but the day-to-day operational demands of “business as usual”. It’s no surprise, perhaps, that only 37% of organisations were able to complete all of their digital transformation projects last year.

These digital-first demands are inevitably pushing IT and developer teams to breaking point. A recent study of developers found 83% of respondents citing feelings of burnout, 81% of whom mentioned the pandemic as the cause. Inefficient working processes were blamed for exacerbating the problem, by making it difficult to power through the backlog of work quickly enough.

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Empowering business technologists

So how can organisations tackle these looming challenges to retain their brightest and best talent, without dialling down their digital growth plans? The answer for many may be right in front of them. Much has been written about business technologists – employees outside the IT department with the appetite and latitude to create new applications and experiences for their organisation. The theory is finally evolving into reality, thanks to the pressures of the digital age and the availability of new integration strategies and solutions.

By exposing their applications, data, and devices through reusable APIs, IT teams can embrace a composable enterprise strategy. This approach enables business technologists to act on their ambitions to create innovative new experiences, by integrating data and digital capabilities more easily. These capabilities can be composed and recomposed to meet changing customer and business demands, without needing to start from scratch every time. Gartner says organisations able to empower business technologists effectively are 2.6 times more likely to accelerate digital business outcomes.

Automating with “clicks not code”

Automated low-code and no-code tools can make this vision a reality, by enabling business technologists to drag-and-drop capabilities into place, to build new digital experiences. Research shows that a vast majority (86%) of organisations believe outcomes would improve if their business users were able to access such capabilities. By combining API management, integration, and automation, organisations can tap into the growing drive to hyperautomation to enable this strategy, by reducing the need for manual, technical development processes. This will empower more business technologists to emerge, by removing the need for employees to know how to code if they want to create new digital experiences.

Enabling more employees outside IT to play an active role in meeting their own digital needs not only helps to accelerate innovation, but also takes some of the day-to-day pressure away from developers. Rather than reacting to fresh demands for routine integration projects, they can invest more of their time and effort on writing new code, driving best practices, and maintaining security and governance. As a result, organisations can alleviate the risk of developer burnout, and ensure their most skilled technical resources remain focused on strategic work that delivers greater business value and ensures the long-term success of digital transformation.

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The future’s already here

Organisations don’t have to wait to start reaping the benefit from this change in digital strategy. Many have already laid the groundwork and implemented a mature approach to enabling non-IT users to easily integrate apps and data sources through APIs. Now, they should be looking to accelerate these initiatives, by empowering more teams in the organisation to consume APIs to build their own digital services, and bring their own flair for innovation to the table. It’s time to build for the future, using the solutions of today to empower a new generation of business technologists.

Written by Paul Crerand, field CTO EMEA at MuleSoft

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