What 2022 can hold for the developer experience

For many organisations, 2021 has been another year of significant upheaval, not least due to the ‘Great Resignation’ and the subsequent challenges of recruitment. An overwhelming 80% of tech leaders say that finding the right talent is the greatest challenge they face in their digital transformation. This is a struggle that has only worsened over recent months, as the erosion of geographical barriers make it easier for developer talent to work for organisations anywhere in the world, with larger enterprises offering increasingly attractive packages that most businesses can’t compete with.

Therefore, amid these increasing pressures, nurturing and retaining their existing tech talent must now top the list of priorities for organisations. In fact, McKinsey goes as far as to say that CIOs must make the developer experience the cornerstone of their organisation’s talent strategy in 2022. This requires businesses to put the developer experience front and centre and ensure this sought-after talent is supported and recognised.

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Elevating the developer experience

An important starting point for businesses is to gauge current developer sentiment within their organisation and to understand what is and isn’t working. Research from InterSystems early in 2020 found that more than eight out of 10 developers felt they worked in a pressured environment, yet more than half (55%) said they would be unlikely to tell their line manager if they felt stressed or overworked. This suggests if organisations are to retain their existing tech talent, they should do more to help alleviate developer stress and to encourage an open dialogue between developers and their line managers to ensure issues such as being overworked or having to meet tight deadlines are addressed.
On a similar note, almost a third of developers said that their organisations don’t provide access to resources to help them manage stress. While this may be down to businesses not being aware of the toll being placed on developers, particularly as remote working having been the norm for much of the last two years may have made it difficult for employers to spot the signs of stress, it is a key area for improvement.

Relieving the pressure with technology

To improve the developer experience, and ultimately retain and attract talent, businesses should begin to make changes to reduce the strain placed on developers and help them achieve a healthier work-life balance. The introduction of fairly simple initiatives such as flexi-time and offering mental health days can help to reduce the risk of burnout and show developers that they are valued members of the business whose needs are being listened to.

Additionally, organisations could look to provide extra resource and adopt the tools and technology to enable developers to automate parts of their workload. Solutions such as data platforms that make use of machine learning (ML) are a prime example of this. This use of this type of technology would enable developers to easily add automation and predictions to applications without them needing to be experts in ML.

Adopting technologies that embed ML capabilities can also help to simplify the process of building, testing, and deploying ML models and speed up the process of integrating them into production applications. This in turn will help to lessen the load for developers, help to reduce some of the stress they may be feeling, and would allow them to focus on the more specialist aspects of their roles.
As well as providing access to tools and resources, organisations should actively encourage developers to engage in online developer communities or forums, such as Stack Overflow and GitHub, and connect more with other developers and tech talent within the organisation. Taking this approach to supplement the use of the right technologies would help to create better support mechanisms for developers whether they are working remotely or in the office environment and help to foster a culture of collaboration and creativity.

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Strengthening business appeal in 2022

Undeniably, developers play a significant role in their organisations, with 96% saying that they make an important contribution to wider business operations. In recognition of this, and to ensure they continue to attract, nurture, and retain this lucrative talent, businesses must begin to see the developer experience as a vital piece of the talent strategy puzzle.

With this, organisations should look to combine the necessary pastoral care to allow developers to come forward about workplace struggles with the solutions and resources that will help to lessen the load and make their lives easier.

As business leaders look ahead to the new year, investing in nurturing their tech talent will put them in a better position to make those individuals feel valued, at the same time strengthening their appeal as employers and giving them the competitive edge that great tech assets bring.

Written by Jeff Fried, director of product management at InterSystems

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