3 Capabilities the Software Industry Needs, to Solve the Developer Talent Crunch
The software development world is changing drastically, making more and more new technologies and tools readily available and allowing for faster release cycles. Those faster cycles have come about in response to online users' demands for not only those features themselves but for their faster introduction.
And that in turn has required a whole new version of "the product team," whereby enterprises can deliver on user demands without sacrificing great customer experience.
The challenge facing those teams will be to establish new standards for the future of work where software development teams can balance technical skills with non-technical skills in order to build exceptional products that will excel in the market.
How to do that? The introduction of three key characteristics will redefine what makes for a successful product team and in the process will attract, retain and develop the talent necessary to achieve that perfect "balance." Those characteristics:
The ability to incorporate social skills into building product teams
Softer power skills such as creative thinking, communication and teamwork tend to be more prevalent in liberal arts studies in the humanities and social sciences, and in the creative arts. Creating outlets to marry traditional science with the humanities by either attracting new types of talent altogether or expanding training will add a better rounded perspective for product design. A product team that's diverse in this way will be able to challenge a particular application in the context of varied customer scenarios, serving as a catalyst for user advocacy.
As an example, look to Microsoft Windows' AI assistant, Cortana. Microsoft built its team with not just software engineers, but also poets, comedians, fiction writers and other types of expertise beyond the traditional skills developers offer. Behind the biggest companies, including Apple and Amazon, we find diverse fields of studies designed to drive a more humanized technology.
The ability to increase emotional intelligence using "soft skills"
The more emotional intelligence (EQ) that's found in products, the more successful those products will be in terms of their adoption by global populations. One big reason for that success will tbe the steadfast avoidance of biased or ethnically insensitive decisions during product development.
For example, following a devastating 6.9-magnitude earthquake in Indonesia, family members searching for survivors received celebratory balloons and confetti in Facebook messages. The reason was that a Malay word, selamat, used in those messages means both "congratulations" and "survive."
Facebook’s automatic (and insensitive) displays of balloons and confetti, in that case, where user permission was absent, lacked emotional intelligence. But we can all learn from that episode: To leverage artificial intelligence and gather more data on users, leading to greater insights about those users from that data, we will need to balance what's been the traditional use of formulaic decisions ... with softer people skills.
“I think that the world is focused very heavily on hard skills like computer science, data science and artificial intelligence,” Anant Agarwal was quoted as saying in a Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute report on digital talent. Agarwal is founder and CEO of eDX, an open online education (MOOC) provider.
“Let us be clear those skills are very important," Aarwal said of hard skills. "However, the combination of hard skills and power skills, like communications, critical thinking and teamwork, is most vital. These skills are required in every job and are critical for professional success across all industries.”
Software development teams are infamous for "hand-offs" between disparate teams that design, develop, test and deploy a product. But fostering co-creativity among teams will help foster a beneficial product for all stakeholders across the software development life cycle.
For example, by having developers co-create feature requirements with designers and co-create tests with quality engineers, teams can ensure they are developing what the user actually wants. This practice is supported by modern approaches to development, like behavior-driven development.
Today, we're seeing more and more job descriptions for developers asking not only for test-driven experience but also behavior-driven design and development experience; and we're seeing these job descriptions from major companies from GE Digital to Liberty Mutual Insurance.
Incorporating approaches such as behavior-driven development can create a shared understanding on how an application fosters continuous learning and co-creation among all stakeholders.
The ability to incorporate user advocacy at every stage of software development
The future of work for software developers lies in the industry's ability to embed diversity, emotional intelligence and co-creativity into product teams, in order to prioritize a user perspective. With user advocacy at the forefront, developers will be able to successfully enrich their technical expertise with people, social and communication skills to create powerful products and services that excel in the market.