Data IS the new oil for software development teams

Serengeti

Business

26.10.2020.

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A quick refresh

A few weeks ago, we wrote about questions to consider before you outsource some of your software development work. Then, recently, we started a mini-series on digital transformation (link), identifying seven core parts of a digital transformation process. As a refresh:

  • Data and analytics
  • Customer experience
  • Innovation
  • Tech Stack
  • Upgraded systems/processes
  • Up-skilling and reskilling
  • Leadership and culture

In this post we’re going to discuss data and analytics.

The current landscape

In October, The Next Web published an article about why software developers might be gone entirely -- goodbye! -- in 2030. Ultimately, the article says they won’t be and that software development is here to stay, which is our viewpoint too. Software has changed virtually every market on the planet, which means that to compete in modern business, you need excellent software development -- and if you can’t find that in-house, you need to outsource the function for more expertise and product development knowledge.

So if software development is going to stick around past 2030 (it will), why would the article claim that?

Well, the main reason is because of the rise of “low-code, no-code” options. Right now, you are seeing this in some industries and departments, namely Human Resources, where low-code options that require less development work are helping to automate processes (and, unfortunately, people out of jobs).

If there are more low-code, no-code solutions, then maybe people will need less software developers in the future. That’s the argument, at least. The reality is that:

  • Less than a third of companies use low-code, no-code right now, so it’s not very common
  • When the code breaks or doesn’t work or doesn’t perform the actions it needs to, you still need to bring in expertise to clean it up and make it work right

Still, low-code, no-code is attractive to executives sometimes because it can feel cheaper and have a shorter deployment. In those examples, what’s the primary advantage of software development teams? 

Data.

When we say “data” in this case, here’s what we mean. Software developers should be experts at:

  • Knowing what apps connect to what other apps
  • Knowing all the APIs in use
  • Knowing where the data resides from end-users
  • Knowing how to access it
  • Knowing how to break it down for others in the organization
  • Knowing how to explain what it means
  • Knowing how to propose new ideas and solutions based on the data coming in from the software

Software developers become significantly more valuable when they understand data and analytics -- what info is coming in, where it’s coming from, what it means, and what decisions could be made as a result of this data. This is all how we got to the idea that “data is the new oil,” because it’s so valuable for decision-making and product development. It can also guide your sales and marketing approaches too, but that’s a little bit different than what we’re discussing in the context of software development.

Data is the backbone of Industry 4.0, which we discuss often. If you want to digitally transform your company, you cannot do it without understanding data and analytics.

A time management data lesson, quickly

The one problem we don’t discuss as much is this: more data means more information, and more information means more charts, graphs, decks, and rows of data people need to look at in order to understand what’s happening and make a decision. But, time is limited for managers, and COVID has thrown the working world out of whack. There’s not enough time to look at millions of end-user interactions and know what it means or what to do.

This is where strong companies rely on their software developers. They ask them:

  • How were these data flows set up?
  • Where is the data coming from?
  • Who are the end users?
  • What can we learn?
  • What does it mean for what we should do with product?
  • What tweaks need to be made now and then later?
  • Does this data indicate a change in strategy?

In this way, the data and analytics -- when understood and presented properly -- influences road maps, sprints, and strategic planning. You save time by working with software developers who understand data outputs as much as they understand lines of code.

How do you find software developers like this?

It can be hard on the open market because often people are very good coders -- important skill -- or very good data analysts -- important skill -- but it’s rare to find one person who overlaps these two important skills.

But when you outsource software development work to a team of experts, on a team extension model where they blend into your team, then you get experts in coding, data, compliance workflows, etc. You get all the expertise within the team you outsourced to. It’s easier than hiring piecemeal to find that expertise, which may never happen.

We put together a checklist of items to look for when outsourcing software development teams for any project, be it digital transformation or something smaller. Access it below:

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