Conventional wisdom holds that one of the biggest challenges organizations face today is a chronic shortage of application developers. But as artificial intelligence (AI) advances, the process of writing code will become more automated. But rather than there being not enough developers to write all the code necessary, the shortage will be in software engineers who can develop innovative systems.
Bob Lord, chief digital officer for the Digital Business Group at IBM, says a glimpse of the future of application development is already being provided today. Instead of writing low-level code, most developers today simply combine modules to create new applications. Anytime new functionality is required, another module gets dropped into the application. The number of developers writing the low-level code needed to create those reusable modules is relatively few, says Lord.
Over time, however, AI models will learn how to write that code. People will add value by providing the engineering expertise needed to combine modules to create an innovative application, Lord says. Naturally, most of the processes employed to deploy that software also will be automated. But IT operations teams will be needed to continuously train the AI systems being used to deploy that software. This is in much the same way that we need human pilots to fly a plane whenever something new or different occurs, despite the existence of autopilot technology.
In general, Lord says, IT organizations would be well-advised to focus on three things:
- They need to decide what architecture strategy is going to be employed to accelerate DevOps integration.
- They need to develop a data strategy that drives digital business transformation.
- They need to layer a cognitive computing strategy that employs advanced algorithms to maximize the business value of the data they’ve accumulated.
While some organizations approach these issues in isolation, Lord says the reality is they’re all closely connected. Organizations are investing in DevOps not just to reduce costs—DevOps is about attaining a level of IT agility capable of driving digital business transformations. In fact, Lord believes the way IT organizations are measured will change: Rather than being rated on traditional IT metrics, they will be measured on how effective they were in attaining business goals—especially when to comes to velocity at which applications are rolled out and updated.
In the meantime, Lord says, developers are starting to exercise more influence over the technologies organizations are employing to achieve those goals. Because of that issue, IBM is making an effort to get closer to the developer community. But as application development advances, many of those developers will be software engineers rather than people who write code, while IT operations teams will become teachers who train intelligent systems how to respond to the needs of deployed code.