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Zenhub 2024 Predictions: What 2024 Looks Like for Developer Team Productivity


Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2024.  Read them in this 16th annual series exclusive.

What 2024 Looks Like for Developer Team Productivity

By Aaron Upright of ZenHub

When looking back at the year 2023 and the world of software development, it's clear this was the year of AI. Hands down, no other innovation really comes close to its impact. This is likely to continue in 2024, but as with all disruptive innovations, the industry begins to move out of the "why" phase and starts to focus on the "how." With continued uncertainty in the economy and pressure to build more applications faster, there is little doubt we'll see more firms leveraging AI and automation to cut production times. As a result, it's very difficult for me to make any substantive predictions that don't involve AI in one form or another. Here are a few of the other trends that software teams and project leads will contend with in the upcoming year. 

"Explainability" becomes a key element in building code with AI 

As AI continues to proliferate throughout the software development industry, a lot of the initial hype around AI "magically" doing things for developers has worn off. Over the past several months, we've seen a shift in tone towards users asking more questions about how AI is deriving outputs. As a result, I'm predicting the concept of "explainability" - transparently demonstrating how an AI tool comes to its conclusions - will become a critical guiding principle when it comes to how AI functionality is built. By incorporating explainability into a solution, developers have more context into why a specific answer was provided, how it could potentially help them achieve their goals, and increases the amount of trust teams have in using AI to build new applications.

Scrum Masters become scapegoats

"We need workers not planners" is a statement we have seen thrown around recently. The idea is that AI is enabling developers to build more, faster, and obviating the need for a role that is primarily focused on guiding teams. As a result, the ScrumMaster, once a critical member on many developer teams, is becoming treated as "baggage" that can be done away with. We strongly disagree with this sentiment, but unfortunately, we're predicting that, at least for the first half of the year, this concept will likely proliferate throughout the industry. We also believe that many firms that go this route will come to regret devaluing this important function and eventually, the pendulum will swing back to a more balanced approach.

2024 will see significantly increased interest in on-premise software deployments 

Even as 2024 will see myriad software vendors ending support for their on-premise products to focus solely on cloud-based solutions, we are already seeing renewed interest in on-premise deployments and hybrid software deployments. The move to the cloud is not without good reasons; the cloud provides myriad advantages in terms of agility, cost, management, productivity, and much more. The recent rise of generative AI and other machine learning-based solutions has seen most of these instantiated in the cloud. However, while AI could very well be the answer that developer teams have been looking for when it comes to improving productivity, it brings up new questions about data privacy, security, intellectual property, and ownership.

Despite its potential, many firms are recognizing that AI currently represents potential risks in terms of data privacy and privacy. As a result, we believe many businesses will turn to implementing hybrid scenarios, where some teams use a cloud model and others use an on-premise model depending on the sensitivity of the data and projects being worked on.

AI functionality will shift to helping teams versus individuals 

While the industry has already seen tools like GitHub Copilot that are helping act as an AI-paired programmer for developers or tools like Cody from Sourcegraph, which is another AI coding assistant to help write code and answer questions, the commonality seems to be that a lot of these different experiences are focused on activities that are very much single player.

We believe that 2024 will see a shift in AI solutions to more team-focused functionality that helps an entire team rather than just an individual. We know from research and talking to our customers that "writing code" only makes up about 25%-40% of a developer's time. The rest of that time is spent updating on the progress of various projects, in meetings with team members making new plans, reporting progress, etc. That's why we see such a deep need from software developer teams to apply AI to more team-based activities, as this is the tedious work that developers would rather avoid as opposed to leveraging their core competence, which is writing code. In particular, AI has the potential to directly address issues involved with the planning and tracking of work that teams do today, which is mainly done manually.

Whether or not my educated guesses are accurate remains to be seen. But no matter what happens, we can be sure that software development productivity is going to remain a white-hot priority for enterprises worldwide. This is simply the case for an economy that is indelibly tied to successful software. I'm looking forward to helping to shape this new world in 2024.



Aaron Upright 

Aaron Upright co-founded ZenHub in 2015 as a company to empower software development with flexible workflow and organization within GitHub using a fully featured integrated project management platform for Agile development. ZenHub helps development teams build better software faster. Aaron currently serves as the Head of Strategic Accounts, managing both strategic partnerships and customer relationships while helping current and prospective users get the most out of their experience with ZenHub. Previous to founding ZenHub, Aaron served on the team at technology incubator, AxiomZen, where he focused on developing go-to-market strategies for early-stage companies. It was here that Aaron formed ZenHub.

Published Thursday, December 28, 2023 7:03 AM by David Marshall
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