The biggest challenge facing the software industry is recruiting developers with the right skills, according to a Reveal’s third annual “Top Software Development Challenges for 2022” survey. Jason Beres, SVP of Developer Tools at Infragistics, and Charlene discuss how organizations can address these and other challenges effectively. The video is below followed by a transcript of the conversation.
Charlene O’Hanlon: Hey everybody. Welcome back to TechStrong TV. I’m Charlene O’Hanlon and I’m here now with Jason Beres, who is the Senior Vice President of Developer Tools at Infragistics. Jason, thank you so much for taking a couple minutes and getting on the Zoom with me. I appreciate it.
Jason Beres: Thanks for having us, Charlene. Thank you.
O’Hanlon: So I’m interested in talking with you a little bit about what you guys have seen over the last, I would say, year, year and a half of so, as it relates to developers, the great resignation, and the lack of qualified developers filling the roles these days, and the impact that that’s having on developer organization, especially as it relates to tools and tooling. So I wonder if we can set the stage a little bit, though. So, let’s talk about what you guys have seen in the market over the last year or so, as it pertains to the developer ranks. Are we seeing a lot of folks moving around?
Beres: Yeah. It’s interesting, and the impetus to this interview is we just got a survey results back that we did. It went over a six week period, and we asked a lot of questions about what’s been going on in the last 18 months with developers. And this is a huge issue. It’s a huge issue for everyone, this lack of skills needed to move digital transformation forward. So developers are maybe looking at other career opportunities, maybe there’s new thing in the development space they want to do vs. what they did in the past. Maybe they don’t want to be a full staff web developer anymore, they want to get into AI, machine learning. And so there’s pockets that we see which are really having a hard time hiring. And you’re looking at numbers of 50 to 60 percent of companies having trouble finding skilled developers for positions. And Infragistics is no different. We’ve had positions open for almost a year for some job openings, and we have offices globally. We’ll hire anywhere. It’s a huge challenge, and I think it’s shifting the way organizations think about application development and tooling, and what they really need to move forward.
O’Hanlon: I keep hearing about the great resignation, and the fact that everybody … not everybody … but a lot of people are rethinking where they want to be in life. And so they’re moving on to doing different things. But I almost feel like there’s got to be someplace where these people are going. So, is it really the great resignation, or do you think it’s just the great reshuffling?
Beres: Oh, wow. That’s a good way of putting it. I do think it’s a great reshuffling more than resignation. I think there’s pockets of the economy where it’s no doubt the great resignation. My brother is CFO of a trucking company. And they see that a lot of the truckers who couldn’t truck during the pandemic just retired. Or they’re like, “Man. Trucking’s really hard. I’m gonna go do something different, where I’m not on the road 60 hours a week.” So I think certain pockets of the economy are more affected than software developers, but I think software developers are the type of folks that need a challenge. So they’re always looking to be having the next big thing that maybe is not necessarily resume padding. It’s more about I need to be challenged more, and I’m looking at other options. And, by the way, I can get a 25 percent raise doing it. That’s … I think what’s driving it is you see big tech … The interesting thing is, right now what you see is, in terms of Meta, for example, the Metaverse, big tech is just … they’re taking people from each other now with ridiculous salaries. So where a guy might have made X amount, they’re offering three times that amount to go between Facebook, Google, Microsoft.
So, in a smaller business, I don’t think it’s as bad as that, but it really depends where you’re at. Infragistics happens to be headquartered in New Jersey, or a 45 minute train ride into New York City. There’s a lot of big tech in New York City, so folks are really, “Hey. Should I take the risk? Can I still work from home?” Now work from home is a big benefit, and I think one of the risks that big tech sees is, “Well is that … hey we’re gonna make folks start coming in the office.” And a lot of people are like, “No, please don’t make us do that, or I will look elsewhere.” So I think the great reshuffle maybe is a better way of putting it, as you’ve described, in software development specifically.
O’Hanlon: And I also see that a lot of developers, over the course of the pandemic, they used a lot of their … I won’t say free time, ’cause I don’t think anybody really had free time, but they were using some of their down time to really up level their skills. And so they’re shifting now into newer areas of development where, to your point earlier, maybe they’re more interested in AI. So they now have that skill set to be able to do that. So are you guys seeing that there are certain levels of developers, or certain areas that are seeing larger pockets of open positions over others? Are we looking at more entry level positions that are not being filled these days?
Beres: I think what we’re seeing, and again, we have offices all over the place, in the US, in South America, in Eastern Europe and Western Europe, in Japan, and in India. And each one of those offices has unique problems. So, for example, in South America, I think we’re seeing just the development skill levels are continuing to rise. So maybe five years ago you could hire a lot of really junior people, and you could get them for less money. Now you’re hiring more senior people who are looking for a little bit more money, but they’re looking for more of a challenge. I think there’s more junior people maybe in locations in Eastern Europe that we didn’t see before, but the risk there is you hire someone who’s junior, and then they’re gonna jump ship relatively quickly, maybe in a year, maybe in 18 months, once they feel like, “Hey, wait a minute. I can go make life changing money, which might be a 20 percent raise when you’re in your early 20s just out of school, but that’s like a big stepping stone for you moving forward.
So I do see that it’s challenging in each location. But at the same time, I think everyone up leveled. If you’re serious about your career, you did have more time last year, and the year before. You weren’t on the road for an hour, hour and a half. Folks that used to work in New York, as you know, would spend maybe two to three hours in a train, jammed together with other people, and they couldn’t even read a book.
O’Hanlon: Yeah. Been there, done that.
Beres: So now they’re at home, and they’re taking free courses. And so you look at some of these training companies, even LinkedIn Learning, they’ve exploded in the last couple years, among others. And there’s training companies that ten years ago were nothing. Now they’re billion dollar companies, because of online training. And so I think if you’re serious about your career, you did up level, and you’re looking for other opportunities. Another one I didn’t mention before is Data Science. Data Science happens to be just exploding, of course, and maybe three to five years ago there were no data scientists. They were so hard to find. They were all career switchers. Maybe I was a really analytical guy, so I’m gonna try out this data science. Now, they’ve learned. Data Scientists are there, but they’re making still the bigger money. So it’s interesting how salaries have just shifted with the market over time as well.
O’Hanlon: We’re seeing such upheaval everywhere. We think about the supply chain. We think about the people who are shifting jobs, and there’s so much in flux these days. It’s hard to pin things down. It’ll be interesting to see how things settle out over the next year or so. I think we are gonna see some settling over the next 12 months as, quote/unquote, things get back to normal, or somewhat sense of normal.
Beres: We hope.
O’Hanlon: Yeah. As we are seeing all of these things happening, all of these different forces at play, that’s gotta have an impact on the organization as a whole, beyond the human element. So what are you guys seeing with respect to tool sprawl, and other ways in which maybe the DevOps tool chain is being impacted, or just the whole developer experience is changing from an organizational point of view.
Beres: I think what we do see is that the business is moving forward, no matter what. So businesses, and even in our survey, they’re looking at 10 percent growth, 20 percent growth. No one reported that they expect negative growth. They expect positive growth. And I think so many businesses … and it’s not just small businesses. It’s medium size businesses, and even like maybe silos in big tech realize that they were behind. So the pandemic said, or it really told them that they need to catch up. And so the business wants to grow, they want to move forward. So that’s when we start recognizing these gaps in skill sets and training, and things that we really wanted to do but we really can’t do ’cause we don’t have the people to do it, or we don’t have the right skill sets to do it, we waited too long. We didn’t move to the cloud. Well, why didn’t you move to the cloud? Gartner’s been saying move to the cloud for ten years, but you didn’t move to the cloud.
So what happens is there’s more pressure put on dev teams, the backlogs get longer. So the way that affects the tool chain, the way that we see it affecting the tool chain in a typical enterprise, and even in SMB, is that tools like low code, no code tools are becoming more adopted, more trusted maybe. Organizations, IT is opening things up a little bit where maybe they’ll allow some APIs that maybe a marketing or sales team can use to do self service BI, or to create apps that aren’t business mission critical, but will help them be more productive. So we’ve seen a little bit of a shift there, and I think we see market growth there as well, in the last couple years, where the business of embedded analytics and low code, no code, were still in the billions of dollars, but billions of dollars in that upper scale, big tech. Now it’s being more widely adopted across the board and pushed down in SMB as well.
O’Hanlon: Like I said before, I think we’re gonna see a lot of changes happening over the year as things settle down. Do you think that we’re going to see changes as it relate to how organizations actually choose their tools, and make the big decisions around that? How do you think that’s gonna be changing?
Beres: So again, the pandemic taught everyone, you can’t be … you’re not beholden by the resources of IT as it is today. Or else you will be left behind. Digital transformation needs to happen, teams need to be more productive. You look at Microsoft and the explosion of Microsoft Teams, and this workspace collaboration. So, we see a growth in these types of tools. We see a growth of the number of people that are just gonna remain as a remote workforce, and then management, IT management and executive management at software companies is realizing that we need productivity. So how can we inject tooling that still give us what we need in terms of security, capabilities, user experience, but can move us forward in how we’re delivering applications internally and externally. So we see a lot of … before the pandemic there was a lot of talk about UX. So UX is top of mind in every executive meeting. But, did they really care about UX? Well now that everyone is, the consumerization has happened, your internal applications experience is just as important as your customer basing experiences. You need tooling that helps you do that more. So bringing in better user experience, tooling that can help deliver applications that look better, feel better, have a better experience, that are gonna drive internal growth, and obviously, external customer growth, really becomes critical and important. And in the next 12 months, in the next 18 months when things are starting to flesh out, these tools are here to stay.
And again, there’s just not enough skilled workers. And if, for example, we can bring in a low code, no code tool to automate process and the super power user in the marketing or sales team, or even a junior dev can do it, vs. having to hire a team to build something from scratch, that’s where we see the savings, and that’s where we see this acceleration of the digital transformation in the enterprise.
O’Hanlon: I really, really like the fact that over the past couple years, we’ve seen this whole democratization of just technology in general. And the fact that, to your point, somebody in finance or marketing or someplace an actually go in and make these changes, and in nine times out of ten actually get it done faster than if they had sent it over to the IT team to get it done. I think there’s really been a sea change, and it’s going to continue. How it ultimately impacts IT organizations, right now is pretty much anybody’s guess. But with the great resignation happening, and still happening, or the great reshuffling … I just like that word better … the great reshuffling happening, we’re gonna see a lot of changes, I think, to the way organizations view how they … not just how they utilize technology, but also maybe how they utilize their employees. That may be another conversation for another time.
But Jason, thank you so much for having the conversation with me today.
Beres: Thank you.
O’Hanlon: And we look forward to having future conversations with you.
Beres: Absolute. Thank you very much.
O’Hanlon: Alright. Great.
Alright everybody. Please stick around. We’ve got lots more TechStrong TV coming up, so stay tuned.