The Evolving Role of Developers in the AI Revolution

The Evolving Role of Developers in the AI Revolution


Developers play a pivotal role in the ongoing AI revolution by becoming architects of transformative technological landscapes. Their roles have dynamically shifted to reflect an era where their expertise goes beyond coding to shaping the ethical, innovative, and responsible deployment of AI technologies.

As custodians of AI, developers have to navigate the complexities of ethical considerations to ensure that these advanced systems are deployed responsibly with a keen awareness of societal implications. The evolving role of developers in the AI revolution signifies a collaborative journey toward a future where human ingenuity converges with machine intelligence, shaping a world where technology serves as a catalyst for positive change.

Developers’ Role in Seamless AI Integration

AI is leading the charge in the rapidly changing world of technology, transforming how we handle everyday tasks and changing the traditional roles of developers and programmers. As AI continues to be integrated more and more, developers are faced with a choice: to adapt and take on new responsibilities that go beyond typical coding or to risk being left behind. Will this year be the year you are left behind?

When we look to 2024 and beyond, one significant trend on the horizon is the seamless integration of AI, particularly generative AI, into the software development lifecycle. Development teams worldwide are transitioning from the experimental phase to embedding AI as a fundamental component of their projects. This shift promises a substantial boost in productivity, with developers potentially gaining upward of 50%, with some studies showing over 200%, gains in efficiency, according to market data.

According to The Futurum Group December 2023 research study, Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Enterprise – Decision Maker IQ Survey Dashboard, enterprises are either outsourcing AI or building in-house capabilities and expertise. This reality tends to lead to the incorporation of AI resources into routine tasks, enabling developers to focus on more complex, creative aspects of their work, fostering a more dynamic and innovative development environment.

Enter the Maturity and Adoption of Platform Engineering

The rise of platform engineering represents a pivotal evolution in modern software development practices. As organizations navigate the complexities of the software development lifecycle (SDLC), the integration of platform engineering has become a cornerstone for efficiency and productivity. This approach encapsulates various facets, ranging from developer tooling for building, testing, and deploying code to the establishment of robust enablement and internal support mechanisms. By codifying workflows and offering support, platform engineering ensures that developers can focus on their primary objective—delivering differential value to end users—without being bogged down by ancillary tasks.

Simultaneously, the rise of self-service developer portals is reshaping how developers interact with AI tools. Platforms such as Backstage, pioneered by Spotify and now under the auspices of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), are becoming integral in providing developers with the resources they need. These portals streamline access to AI capabilities, empowering developers to experiment, iterate, and deploy models more efficiently. This shift toward self-service portals marks a crucial step in democratizing AI, making its benefits accessible to a broader developer audience.

The strategic realignment of IT resources is another significant outcome of the AI revolution. Executives are recognizing the potential of AI to unlock creative capabilities within their teams, extending beyond traditional developer roles. This realignment is not limited to developers alone but encompasses all IT roles, recognizing the transformative impact AI can have on various aspects of business operations. Companies that leverage this opportunity strategically are poised to stay ahead in the competitive landscape by fostering a culture of innovation and adaptability.

However, the multifaceted nature of platform engineering extends beyond developer tooling and internal support to encompass specialized domains such as frontend and backend platforms. The frontend platform addresses UI components, web frameworks, and search functionalities, streamlining the development of UIs. Simultaneously, the backend platform manages critical aspects such as authentication, web gateways, and APIs, providing a foundational infrastructure for seamless application functionality.

Additionally, platform engineering understands infrastructure concerns, utilizing tools such as Terraform and Ansible, logging mechanisms, Kubernetes orchestration, and observability practices to create a resilient and scalable development environment. Furthermore, the platform team plays a crucial role in ensuring reliability through incident management and site reliability engineering, as well as establishing robust security standards and risk management practices. The inclusion of data-centric components such as data engineering, warehousing, and access mechanisms rounds out the comprehensive scope of platform engineering. In the age of DevOps, where efficiency and collaboration are paramount, the platform engineering paradigm emerges as a catalyst for unifying and streamlining diverse aspects of the SDLC, empowering development teams to operate with increased speed, consistency, and impact.

However, the modernization of infrastructure is emerging as a critical concern. With the increasing processing demands from AI applications, the current infrastructure might struggle to keep up. The need for advanced, adaptable infrastructure capable of handling the intricacies of AI algorithms is becoming more evident. According to Microsoft research, 35% of organizations use at least three different applications to collaborate, and 36% use four or more applications. Developers will need to collaborate with infrastructure specialists to ensure their systems are not just modern but also equipped to support the demands of AI-driven applications.

Aligning Toward Developer Productivity

Despite these advancements, enterprise adoption of AI is anticipated to be limited. According to market data, a staggering 80% of enterprises are expected to opt for internal talent development, leveraging business subject matter experts and data scientists, or even citizen developers. Low-code and no-code approaches will play a pivotal role in accelerating model grounding and value delivery, ensuring that businesses can harness the power of AI without the need for extensive coding expertise. This democratization of AI development tools opens possibilities for a wider pool of professionals to contribute to AI initiatives within their organizations.

Legal Concerns for Developers to Consider

While the promise of AI is immense, regulatory challenges loom on the horizon. Generative AI is not exempt from scrutiny and review, as witnessed by the ongoing OpenAI investigation in Italy and a new lawsuit in Poland highlighting potential General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) violations. In response, the European Data Protection Board has launched a task force to coordinate enforcement actions against AI models, particularly those such as ChatGPT. As AI adoption continues to grow, the need for ethical and legal frameworks becomes more pressing, demanding collaboration between developers, regulators, and AI practitioners to ensure responsible and transparent AI use.

In the forthcoming year, I anticipate we will gain valuable insights into whether the surge in platform popularity will lead to the growth of teams or if the maturity of these platforms will empower smaller teams to efficiently support larger groups of engineers. This critical examination promises to provide compelling evidence for the evolving dynamics within the realm of technology and team structures, offering a persuasive narrative on the future landscape of collaborative work in the tech industry.

Paul’s POV

AI is reshaping the programming landscape, necessitating a paradigm shift in the roles and responsibilities of developers. From the integration of generative AI into the development lifecycle to the importance of self-service developer portals and strategic realignment of IT resources, developers are at the forefront of a transformative era. While challenges such as infrastructure modernization, limited enterprise adoption, and regulatory scrutiny persist, the potential for innovation and creative exploration in the AI space is growing—fast. Developers and programmers who embrace this change, adapt to new roles, and contribute to ethical AI development are poised to be the architects of a future where technology and human creativity are blended in the outcomes.

And the emergence of generative AI has brought in a new era of technological revolution, completely transforming the landscape of technology and redefining the role of developers in new ways. In response to the challenges and opportunities presented by generative AI, platform engineering has emerged as a pivotal solution, enabling developers to streamline workflows, enhance productivity, and navigate the complexities of the SDLC with confidence.

As generative AI becomes integrated into routine tasks, developers find themselves at the forefront of innovation, taking on new roles that involve overseeing AI systems, designing complex algorithms, and solving intricate problems. However, they must also consider regulatory impacts and balance technological advancement with ethical considerations.

These changes bring evolution. Developers are not just coders anymore; they are architects driving differential value to end users and innovating to bring in a new era of technological progress. The evolving role of developers in the AI revolution is a testament to their adaptability, creativity, and invaluable contribution to the ongoing evolution of the digital landscape.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

Other Insights from The Futurum Group:

Enhancing Sales and Service Efficiency via Microsoft Sales Copilot

Some Thoughts on the AI Boom, Silicon, and the Year Behind & Ahead

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Enterprise – Decision Maker IQ Survey Dashboard

Author Information

Paul Nashawaty

At The Futurum Group, Paul Nashawaty, Practice Leader and Lead Principal Analyst, specializes in application modernization across build, release and operations. With a wealth of expertise in digital transformation initiatives spanning front-end and back-end systems, he also possesses comprehensive knowledge of the underlying infrastructure ecosystem crucial for supporting modernization endeavors. With over 25 years of experience, Paul has a proven track record in implementing effective go-to-market strategies, including the identification of new market channels, the growth and cultivation of partner ecosystems, and the successful execution of strategic plans resulting in positive business outcomes for his clients.


Latest Insights:

Oracle Exadata Exascale Debuts Aiming to Unite the Best of Exadata Database Intelligent Architecture and Cloud Elasticity to Boost Performance for Key Workloads
The Futurum Group’s Ron Westfall examines why the Exadata Exascale debut can be viewed as optimally uniting Exadata with the cloud to provide customers a highly performant, economical infrastructure for their Oracle databases with hyper-elastic resources expanding Oracle’s market by making Exadata attractive to small organizations with low entry configuration and small workload affordability.
Brad Tompkins, Executive Director at VMware User Group (VMUG), joins Keith Townsend & Dave Nicholson to share insights on how the VMware community is navigating the company's acquisition by Broadcom, focusing on continuity and innovation.
On this episode of The Six Five Webcast, hosts Patrick Moorhead and Daniel Newman discuss AWS Summit New York 2024, Samsung Galaxy Unpacked July 2024, Apple & Microsoft leave OpenAI board, AMD acquires Silo, Sequoia/A16Z/Goldman rain on the AI parade, and Oracle & Palantir Foundry & AI Platform.
Camberley Bates at The Futurum Group, reflects on NetApp’s Intelligent Data Infrastructure across hybrid and multi-cloud environments, enhancing operational consistency and resilience.