Gartner expects software engineering organizations will continue to face pressures to meet the needs of the broader business in 2024. By enabling developers, enhancing toolsets and taking advantage of artificial intelligence (AI), IT leaders can prepare themselves for the technology industry’s continued evolution.
“Over a decade ago, Marc Andreessen told us that software is eating the world. And today, software engineering has become even more important for supporting the overall business strategy. And this is true regardless of the industry sector you’re in,” Gartner VP analyst Joachim Herschmann said during a webinar.
Another commonality of software engineering across industries is that it’s “incredibly difficult,” Herschmann said. “It’s not technology for technology’s sake. It’s about meeting and exceeding business objectives because that is what you’re ultimately measured on.”
To stay ahead of the curve in 2024, here are four trends that software engineering leaders need to know.
Herschmann highlighted inner source software and creating a superior developer experience as two trends paramount for “building high-performing teams and removing the impediments that hold them back from releasing their full potential.”
Inner source refers to the application of open source principles to software engineering and development within an enterprise. “Inner source software remains proprietary to the company – but within [the company], it is open for anyone to use and contribute to it,” he said.
Inner source software accelerates application development and helps teams work more collaboratively, leading to higher quality software and documentation. Inner source also makes code reuse, avoiding code duplication and eliminating data silos easier – “regardless of the size of the company,” Herschmann said.
Perhaps most importantly, inner source facilitates a culture of openness. “It reinforces things like pride in the product growth [and] job satisfaction felt by the team,” he said.
The developer experience – which includes all aspects of interactions between developers and the tools, processes and people with which they work – will also be a significant trend in 2024.
According to Gartner, building the best developer experience requires an environment where developers “can do their best work with minimal friction and maximum flow” while feeling empowered, satisfied and delivering quality software. But developer experience also helps IT teams innovate faster and secure top talent.
“Think, for example, about the quality of onboarding or self-service, internal developer portals, which are a key element in improving developer experience – as well as environment management or collaborative tools,” Herschmann said. But “it’s not just about technology. These other things include having dedicated time for deep, creative, meaningful work, as well as personal freedom to try new things without the fear of failure.”
AI-augmented software engineering
Another trend to watch in 2024 is artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and how they will help IT teams improve productivity, accessibility and consistency – and build smarter apps.
“This year has been a watershed year when it comes to the use of AI,” Herschmann said. “AI-powered tools have already fundamentally altered the way in which applications are built – from design-to-code tools to machine learning-powered coding assistants that automatically generate code to AI-driven testing tools.”
Design-to-code, for example, describes the workflow of transferring design assets and specifications from UX designers to software engineering teams.
The other side of this coin is the creation of AI-powered applications. “AI is really changing how the business operates,” Herschmann said. “The combination of the available enterprise data that’s there but sparsely used, advanced model building capabilities and generative AI services will result in data-enhanced applications that drive better business decisions.”
Data-enhanced applications have embedded AI powered by machine learning models, “and that will become the norm,” he said. This application development strategy enriches the information already available in enterprise applications, automates workflows to improve productivity or responsiveness, assesses risks and recommends next steps.