The developer shortage has been a subject of concern for several years now. According to federal employment data analyzed by IT trade group CompTIA, over the first half of 2019, U.S. employers reported about 918,000 unfilled IT jobs. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, a whopping 79% of CEOs were at the time concerned about the availability of developer talent.
And of course, things have only gotten worse and more concerning since the pandemic.
All things considered, the reason for the developer shortage is simple. Every company is a tech company now, what with the pandemic having drastically accelerated trends of digital transformation, and having forced most enterprises to seek technological and developer-driven solutions to a wider array of business challenges. That means companies are looking to hire more developers. In certain cases, lots more. Codingame, a training and recruitment platform for developers, found in a recent survey that 64% of companies worldwide have ambitions of hiring developers in quantities of 50 or more over the course of 2021.
But the supply of talented software developers hasn’t kept pace with rising demand. “It’s taking longer, it’s harder and we’re finding fewer qualified applicants to fill those positions,” said Keyur Ajmera, vice president of infrastructure shared services with iCIMS, a talent cloud company, apropos of the developer shortage, in a statement to CNBC. The pool of qualified developers simply remains small.
What developers already are already on staff inside companies, meanwhile, are finding themselves forced to take on more work, often of the support-focused, custodial variety.
The danger for companies in all this is clear. Running shorthanded from a developmental standpoint causes companies to operate less effectively, with less agility, and with larger ledgers of operational debt. At the same time, if companies can’t keep up with trends of digital transformation, they’ll be left behind by their competitors, and will become even less equipped to compete for talent, both technical and otherwise.
The same holds true for countries writ large. The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that by 2026, the developer shortage in the U.S. will exceed 1.2M. Such a shortage directly impacts our ability to solve the hard-to-solve problems of tomorrow, and to lead in the markets that those solutions create.
So what is to be done? One emergent technology is poised to help the developer shortage: No-code.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Generally, IT departments and developers are skeptical of no-code. Here are just a few reasons why:
- Some worry no-code is simply a means of allowing business users to circumvent IT, and in turn compromise IT’s ability to effectively govern the tech stack.
- Others see no-code as useful only for making small, toy-like apps—not, conversely, tools of enterprise-grade.
- Finally, some IT departments worry that no-code initiatives are but thinly veiled efforts to replace developers outright.
Such concerns are understandable. The truth, however, is that no-code at its core is none of those things. It’s not a workaround; it’s not just for making cute apps; and it’s certainly not a means of replacing IT. At least, it shouldn’t be used in those ways.
Used correctly, no-code proves a means of empowering developers, and providing enterprise companies much of what they need to begin closing the gaps in performance and efficiency caused by the ongoing developer shortage.
No-code, by enabling the business, helps developers spend more time creating and innovating in the manner of architects—and less time in a support role as implementers.
IT departments have an important and multifaceted job. In addition to spearheading efforts of innovation and product improvement, developers are also charged with governing their company’s tech stack, overseeing its operational infrastructure, and enabling the business to work independently to drive business outcomes.
The developer shortage compromises IT’s ability to do all three. But it pulls them most emphatically away from creating new value in the form of innovation and product creation, and forces them to spend more time building, implementing, managing, or fixing apps to support and enable the business.
And that’s where no-code can help.
No-code should be used, above all, as a vehicle for enabling the business to create their own internal workflow solutions—you know, solutions that, right now, IT is solely responsible for creating. It’s not for replacing developers. It’s for supercharging business users and taking that enablement piece off developers’ plates.
Now how, exactly, can no-code do this?
Well consider, sort of at a base level, what business teams need in terms of enablement. In no particular order of importance, they need:
- The ability to work and solve problems independently.
- Tools, such as automation solutions, that help them work faster
- Integrations or capabilities that allow them to plug into the existing tech stack when solving their own operational challenges
The right kind of no-code platform will provide business users all of these abilities through a standardized, modular, code-free interface that allows them to assemble their own integrated workflow solutions, sort of in the manner of building blocks.
These building blocks are in essence business capabilities—sort of what we now think of as APIs—that are modular and reusable. They’re created (in one-off fashion) by IT. In the no-code platform, business users can pick and choose from these capabilities as their self-designed workflow and automation solutions demand. No longer does IT need to build or buy a new app for every individual business need. Rather, the business can assemble their own solutions, and can make far more strategic use of what tools the company already has.
The power and promise of no-code is that it effectively outsources the task of enabling the business to the business itself.
Still not sure how that works? Let’s use Tonkean as an example.
Tonkean goes about this process of enabling the business—and liberating IT from 90% of that task—via two specific tools: Enterprise Components, and the Solutions Studio.
Let’s start with Enterprise Components. Enterprise Components is a layer of the Tonkean platform only IT has access to, and within which they’re empowered to design and deliver the reusable, modular building blocks which the business uses to compose their own custom workflows. These building blocks can facilitate integrations to 1000+ enterprise systems; extend custom applications; process unstructured data (like emails, chat, documents, etc.) using NLP and OCR; facilitate people coordination, and more. All told, they allow a way to extend capabilities that normally require custom coding with a dedicated development team to more areas of the business, while maintaining security and compliance.
(Again you can think of built Enterprise Components as packaged APIs. Like APIs, tech teams maintain governance over them. But, unlike traditional APIs, they’re accessible across teams, processes, and functions.)
Now, business teams access Enterprise Components via the no-code Solutions Studio. The Solutions Studio is where the no-code magic happens. It’s a lower, business logic modeling layer meant for building complex, cross-functional processes. Here, business teams building process solutions can make sure they’re following best practices with versioning, environments, release management, and more. It’s where they make use of the building blocks, and can become truly self-serving in their personal workflow solutions design.
A no-code tool like Tonkean helps the developer shortage by freeing IT from what has become a huge drain on its time and energy.
This is the task of both manually enabling the business and, at the same time, monitoring their work to ensure they’re not creating things like shadow IT.
It’s not, just to make sure this is clear, a tool that serves to replace developers.
Or, it shouldn’t be used in that way. Rather, it’s most effective as a means of supplementing developers, and of aiding them in their efforts of business enablement. Used this way, it frees developers to spend more time on new-value creation, and increases by an order of magnitude what the rest of the enterprise is able to accomplish. Really, it’s a means of tapping into and harnessing the expertise and creative capacity of the users most intimate with the problems they’re trying to solve. As Amit Zavery, VP and Head of Platform for Google Cloud, wrote last year, “When the ability to create business applications is extended beyond IT to the people closest to the challenges…the speed at which a business can move and the number of people working on solutions can both increase dramatically.”Will no-code solve the developer shortage on its own? No. But it will help companies do more with what resources they do have, and optimize existing operations for far greater efficiency and innovative capacity.