We are in the throes of a well-documented tech skills crisis. Globally, surging demand for skilled technology workers from businesses looking to digitally transform means there simply aren’t enough to go around.
In the UK, research indicates that almost 70% of digital business leaders now feel they are being held back by the ongoing talent shortage. In particular, demand for developers is far outstripping supply. It’s anticipated that there will be a multi-million developer shortage globally by 2025.
Consequently, the ability to attract and retain top developer talent has become a critical success factor for businesses everywhere. Even the most progressive CEOs openly admit they are struggling to build the teams they need as a result of the shortage.
The developer shortage has major repercussions on the global economy. In today’s digital economy, organisations in every sector and industry are increasingly dependent on developers to drive innovation. They are pivotal to solving present and future business challenges, yet there are fewer available than ever.
The stark reality is that this skills shortage is not going to be resolved overnight, which means organisations must find new ways to achieve their productivity and innovation goals. We can’t keep bootstrapping developers and expecting them to work harder in the pursuit of innovation. Something has to give if developers are expected to keep up with both spiking demand for their services and the skyrocketing pace of technological change.
AI developer tools have a pivotal role to play in easing the developer shortage and allowing enterprises to innovate at speed. Generative AI signals a sea change in software development that is turbocharging developer productivity and firing creativity among developers.
The latest AI tools unlock major productivity and efficiency benefits that allow developers to spend their time on the biggest, most challenging problems facing society – not wasting it on manual, low-value repetitive tasks.
Take GitHub’s Copilot AI pair programming tool, which suggests code and entire functions in real-time. Research shows developers using it code up to 55% faster. Because AI understands the context of what a developer is working on, it can support them by eliminating the repetitive, boring elements of a developer’s work that restrict the speed with which they can work.
The impact of AI developer tools cannot be overstated. Latest research indicates that the productivity advantages they deliver could boost global GDP by over $1.5 trillion by 2030. Just as significantly, AI-powered software development will have a seismic impact on the developer talent pool. By factoring in a 30% productivity enhancement for the projected 45 million professional developers globally by 2030, generative AI developer tools could add productivity gains of an additional 15 million “effective developers” to worldwide capacity by the start of the next decade.
AI development tools fuel creativity and higher quality code
But the impact of AI-powered software tools cannot be measured in productivity alone. As well as supporting developers to create software faster, AI tools play a vital role in helping them create higher quality, more innovative software. It’s far too linear to regard the value of productivity gains as purely time saving. The reality is productivity gains can unleash the creative potential of developers.
The use of AI tools that eliminate the drudgery of repetitive tasks allows developers to stay “in the flow” longer – freeing them to focus on more impactful work rather than having to constantly switch environments and spend time researching how to write the code. Developers can focus all their creativity on the big picture: building the innovation of tomorrow and accelerating human progress. Reducing boilerplate and manual tasks and making complex work easier allows developers to become the best versions of themselves, producing their best work. Enterprises only stand to benefit from this shift.
Additionally, AI development tools have the power to provide ideas and nuances that developers might not have considered. For example, GitHub Copilot is trained on billions of lines of code so it can provide suggestions tailor-made for a developer’s current task. The coding suggestions it produces are based on the wisdom and ingenuity of the global open source community. It has the power to provide practical suggestions and inspiration that developers might not have considered.
AI tools give enterprises an advantage in tackling the developer shortage
It’s also worth considering the knock-on effect that unlocking these productivity and creativity advantages has for an enterprise’s ability to attract and retain developers in a fiercely competitive market. The bottom line is that developers only want to work with the latest tools and in the most progressive environments, where they can constantly learn and work collaboratively. Any organisation that is unable or unprepared to integrate AI development tools into their process is not just missing out on the economic and innovation benefits of efficiencies – they are compounding the situation by making themselves a far less enticing prospect for developers.
It's no exaggeration to say that an enterprise’s success is now predicated on its ability to attract, engage and inspire the developers it needs to drive innovation. There is no doubt that the advent of AI-powered software development puts them in pole position to overcome the developer shortage and do exactly that.
Jesper Hyrm international VP at GitHub
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