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Anexinet 2021 Predictions: The Continued Acceleration of Digital Transformation Will Put the Pressure on Developers

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

The Continued Acceleration of Digital Transformation Will Put the Pressure on Developers

By Glenn Gruber, Anexinet

Relatively early on in the pandemic, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had a great line - "We've seen 2 years of digital transformation initiatives take place in the last 2 months." Much of those activities were in relation to enabling remote workers to do their everyday tasks and collaborate with their colleagues. That was merely the first steps for many companies.

Quickly it became obvious that having more and more capabilities and workloads in the cloud provided significant value, in terms of flexibility and responsiveness to constantly changing circumstances caused by the pandemic. It has also become clear that there are going to be certain long-term changes in consumer and employee patterns of behavior even after a vaccine is widely available (which looking at the continued rise in COVID cases and related deaths this fall, might be the only way we're going to get the virus under control).

So as a result, in 2021 we're going to see a continuation, if not an acceleration, in digital transformation initiatives, with a large part of that some significant modernization from legacy, monolithic architectures to cloud-centric, microservices architectures. Research from Forrester bears this out:

"Almost three-quarters of infrastructure and operations pros report that migrating existing apps to cloud platforms is a priority of their enterprise's cloud strategy."

Such traumatic changes will put a lot of stress on the developers who have been supporting those applications. Not just in terms of the sheer amount of work that will need to be done (nor the short timeframes the business will want them completed in), but in how it will stretch the members of development organizations. In 2021, developers will adapt in the following ways:

  • How They Work: Oftentimes digital transformation projects lean towards using Agile methodologies. It especially makes sense given that the initiatives we're talking about are akin to changing the oil in a race car while it's going down the track. You know before you start that you'll have to pivot and adapt along the journey. That leads to some organizational challenges.

    Many dev shops supporting older applications are used to more of a waterfall approach. Making a change to Agile can be a challenge in any environment, let alone one with remote teams. And even for those already used to Agile, best practices often encourage cross-functional, co-located teams. That's not happening. So, there will be more pressure to get used to new collaboration tools and to implement advanced automated DevOps pipelines to make things easier.

  • New Architecture Patterns: Adopting new architectural patterns means team members will have to learn them and internalize them. As an example, Microservices aren't just little APIs and getting one's head around Domain-Driven Design isn't so easy for everyone. Companies will need to have cloud architects, IoT architects, and event-driven architects on staff to not just pave the future path, but also coach the developers and bring them up to speed.

  • New Tools, Technologies and Languages: Lastly, to take advantage of Kubernetes-based container platforms, developers will need to master all sorts of new tools and technologies. Even just front-end developers will need to come up to speed on new languages. For example, perhaps they know Java, but now the front-end is going to be in React. Maybe an event driven architecture is being put into place and people who know Kafka or Confluent are needed, or an organization is implementing an Industrial Internet of Things, they will need people who understand the role of and how to implement an Edge Broker technology like HiveMQ.

Some developers will absolutely rise to the challenge. But others will struggle. There may be some skill gaps that require going out to the market or hiring consultants to fill them. And perhaps there may be a wholesale restructuring required of the development teams over time. Either way it's not going to be easy on the developers on staff. And to be clear, they are going to be the ones to bear the brunt of all the changes organizations are looking for.

So please keep this in mind as you plan your digital transformation journey, and take care to create an environment that is set up to be successful rather than fail. 2020 has been tough, let's not make 2021 tougher.


About the Author

Glenn Gruber 

Glenn Gruber is a Senior Digital Strategist at Anexinet. He leads enterprise mobile strategy engagements to help companies determine the best way to integrate mobile into their business -- both from a consumer-facing perspective, but also how to leverage mobile to empower employees to be more productive and improve service delivery through the intelligent use of mobile devices and contextual intelligence. Glenn has helped a wide range of enterprises on how to leverage mobile within their business including Bank of Montreal, Dubai Airports, Carnival Cruise Line and Merck. He is a leading voice in the travel sector as a contributing Node to Tnooz where he writes about how mobile and other emerging technologies are impacting the travel sector and a frequent speaker at industry events.  

Published Monday, November 23, 2020 7:44 AM by David Marshall
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