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AI / Security / Software Development

2024 Forecast: What Can Developers Expect in the New Year?

Predictions about generative AI, developer productivity, DevSecOps and more are on the mind of Heath Newburn, global CTO of PagerDuty, in this episode of The New Stack Makers.
Dec 6th, 2023 7:38am by
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The past year has brought both promise and uncertainty to developers. Sometimes in the same package.

Take, for instance, the generative AI revolution that’s making its way into IT teams. Heath Newburn, global field CTO for PagerDuty, recalled in this episode of The New Stack Makers podcast a pivotal moment he experienced during a client visit.

“I was sitting in an organization and the second line manager was looking down to us,” Newburn told Makers host Heather Joslyn of TNS. “And we said, ‘What’s up,’ and he said, ‘We just got an edict from on high that we have to come back and explain how many people we are going to fire because of Gen AI.’”

Getting organization leaders to consider the gap between what AI might do one day and what it can do now was tough in 2023, he said — the difference, as he put it, between “management-by-magazine and reality.”

In this episode of TNS Makers, Newburn shared his predictions for the coming year, based on the trends he’s seeing at his customers’ organizations.

The conversation was sponsored by PagerDuty.

DevSecOps on the Rise

One of the biggest trends he sees gathering momentum is an increased focus on DevSecOps. The past year saw some very public and impactful hacks and outages, such as the MGM Resorts hack in September. These incidents are changing how organizations think about security, Newburn said.

“In the past, I used to see a lot of organizations decide upfront, saying, Hey, we’re just not going to make that spend on security this year, because the potential fallout is going to be less than the cost of it,” he said. “They’re not making those choices anymore.”

Instead, Newburn noted, executives are asking developer teams, “How can we be successful? How do we do this? And you know, but the good news is, we’re seeing the rise of tooling, like Backstage and a lot of other new things come to light on how we think about that link between our dev tools and our operations tools.”

Those new tools and platforms, he said, rely more on automation than previous generations of tooling.

Gains Matter More than Efficiencies

Newburn sees a key sea change underway: “the shift to gains rather than efficiencies.”

Developer productivity, he acknowledged, is likely to increase only a minimal amount for most organizations — and the executives who set IT budgets are getting wise to that.

“Boards and others have kind of gotten tired of hearing that, ‘Oh, we’re gonna be 2% more efficient,’ or ‘We’re gonna be 3% more efficient,” Newburn said. That, he noted, has come to mean: buy a bunch of tools for us and we’ll see incremental improvement in how fast our people code.

Instead, organizations will be asking themselves, “What are the new outcomes you can expect, rather than just, ‘Hey, can I drop another 30 lines of code this week when I reduce these dupes?

“Because if you can actually drive a whole new product to market faster, that’s different than an efficiency. Right? That’s a whole new game.”

He cited a recent conversation he had with a client from a life instance company.

“They said, within the IT organization, one of the things that they had finally decided on …was look, it’s great to be three out of three, but seven out of 10 is better.”

The coming year, he said, will be good for organizations that can identify areas where they can experiment, try new things — and learn quickly from their failures.

“We can think about how do we gather information faster,” Newburn said. “We don’t gather information from writing perfect code and kicking it out into the universe. What we do is say: Hey, what does work?”

Check out the entire episode for Newburn’s predictions about platform engineering, remote work, and generative AI.

Like this episode? Here’s another one with PagerDuty

How AI and Automation Can Improve Operational Resiliency

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