More than 3,700 front-end development professionals filled in The research of the Software House on front-end software development, but only 82% of them think they work for a tech-first company.
I’m just saying because if we’ve learned anything over the past ten years, it’s that every organization should take software seriously. This isn’t to say that software is the only thing organizations need to worry about, but these survey results worry me that while the majority of respondents believe software is central to their business, other data shows that very few non- software companies do software very well.
Do you see the disconnect?
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How fast are front-end developers embracing new frameworks?
It’s possible that the survey simply represents an unrepresentative sample of the total front-end developer population: that is, it leans toward people who think technology matters.
As the report’s authors note, “82% identified themselves as working at a software development company, developer agency, or tech-first or digital-first companies.” That doesn’t sound like traditional ventures like Chevron, PepsiCo or DR Horton, and government organizations are completely separate in the research results.
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So again, it’s hard to say whether the research didn’t reach people who work at more traditional companies, or whether there really are more engineers working in places where software is core to the business. I suspect it’s more of the former than the latter, but hopefully we’re getting smarter about technology in general.
Still, one way to measure the level of geekery (in the best sense) in the front-end community is how quickly they are embracing relatively new frameworks like Next.js.
In Image Athe lighter bars on the right represent the results of this same survey for 2020compared to the dark 2022 results on the left.
While React has held up, it’s telling that relatively new meta frameworks like Next.js and Gatsby are climbing the popularity charts.
Meanwhile, in terms of libraries, 40% of developers surveyed want to use Apollo to connect to GraphQL, and “more and more people [are] move their development online, which also suggests that the general interest in cloud development has increased.” according to Ives van Hoorneco-founder of CodeSandbox.
There is also a rapidly growing belief that TypeScript has become indispensable. It is clear from these and other research findings that front-end developers are eager to rush into a sparkly new web future, suggesting to me that there is a healthy respect for the power of software among this group.
That’s not necessarily new. Front-end development has traditionally been characterized by an almost frantic march towards the shiny and new, but to me this feels different. Now we see a healthy balance between new and old.
And yet you can believe that software matters without being good at it, like this McKinsey study illustrates.
Software engineering should be part of a company’s DNA
For example, according to McKinsey’s survey of business decision-makers, companies are betting heavily that digital solutions will have an impact on their revenues. In the past 12 months, 27% of respondents believe that digital solutions accounted for more than 50% of the company’s revenue, with that percentage increasing to 38% by 2023. Similarly, 27% see digital responsible for 25% to 50% over last year, but 39% see digital responsible for 25% to 50% by 2023.
In other words, by 2023, a whopping 77% of business decision makers believe that digital will make up at least 25% of their revenue.
That sounds great, but when we look at the $500 billion in global software revenue, non-IT companies account for just 6%, according to McKinsey. It is clear that there is a big gap between ambition and reality, with four myths that keep non-IT companies from becoming fully IT-driven companies†
Of the myths McKinsey identifies, perhaps the greatest is that “digital transformationsimply requires adding technical talent, rather than overhauling the way the company operates and sells. Software engineering should become part of the company’s DNA, not an established fact.
The same goes for machine learning and artificial intelligence, according to a Boston Consulting Group Study† 30% of respondents believed that machine learning would have a major impact on their business, but only 10% have achieved a significant return on their investment.
In other words, it’s nice that the front-end engineers surveyed by The Software House think they work for tech-first companies. Maybe they do. But most companies don’t fit that description — at least not yet — and need to figure out how to embed software talent deep into their DNA.
Disclosure: I work for MongoDB, but the views expressed herein are my own.