Wednesday, 12th May 2021

Software developers 'crucial' to pandemic recovery

More than half (53%) of organisations don’t bring developers in at the start of a project to understand customer problems they’re tasked to solve.

Twilio has published the results of a survey uncovering businesses’ perception of software developers and the importance of technology in UK companies’ survival during the pandemic. The findings reveal that nearly all UK businesses consider developers to be important for digital transformation (95%) and in defining an appropriate response to the pandemic (91%) - for example by enabling virtual communication with customers - but the majority are not yet unlocking the full power of developers.

Organisations have turned to technology, especially software, to tackle new challenges arising from the pandemic and to aid future business recovery. The research, which surveyed CTOs, CIOs and other senior IT decision makers, found that nearly all (96%) believe the role of technology was important in responding to the challenges of the pandemic, with 68% saying it was ‘very important’. In line with this, their perceived value of developers for the overall success of the business is starting to be realised. Prior to the pandemic, 31% said that developers were ‘vital’ to the performance of the organisation, which has jumped to 41% since the pandemic began.

While the results demonstrate the growing importance of developers to survive the pandemic, many organisations are still underusing developer teams by distancing them from customers and what they are trying to address until later in the process. The research revealed that less than half (47%) of organisations engage developers at the start of a project, with the majority only bringing them in later down the line, for example when briefing them to build the solution versus help to shape it to meet business needs.

“The organisations that solve customer problems with software are winning in the pandemic, as they continue to actively engage with their customers, even without face to face interactions,” said Marcos Placona, Head of Developer Relations EMEA at Twilio. “Developers are a creative workforce who can solve major business challenges and create invaluable customer products, if they are given the opportunity - they do not simply write code. Organisations that bring them in from the onset to understand objectives can unleash their power and therefore the power of the code they write.”

Key findings from the research include:

  • Businesses are realising the value of developers: Of the 91% that said developers were important in responding to pandemic challenges, more than half (53%) regarded their role as ‘very important’. This increases to 70% in the IT, technology & telecoms sector. Of the 95% that said the role of developers was important for digital transformation, 57% considered it as ‘very important’.
  • Developer involvement in strategy remains unchanged despite their importance in the pandemic response: Prior to the pandemic, 36% of respondents said developer teams were ‘heavily involved’ in strategic decision making in their organisations. This remains unchanged since the pandemic began (38%). In contrast, CTOs and senior IT decision makers in some sectors saw their own involvement in strategy increase from 56% being ‘heavily involved’ to 68% in professional services and from 56% to 64% in retail.
  • Financial services organisations have embraced developers most: Respondents from the finserv sector overwhelmingly recognised the value of technology as ‘very important’ to respond to pandemic challenges (84%), compared to organisations on average (68%). Moreover, their perception of developers as ‘vital’ to the performance of the organisation jumped from 42% pre-pandemic, to 51% since it began. Developer involvement in strategic decision making also jumped considerably from 26% being ‘heavily involved’ to 40% since the outset of the pandemic.
  • Developers need to be aligned to business problems: Only 47% of businesses bring their developer team in at the start of a project. While more than half (53%) delay this process, for example only engaging them once the solution has been defined and needs to be built.
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