Saturday, 23 September 2017

Brave developers forge path in uncertain UK app economy

Microsoft
Monday 28 October 13

The UK applications and software development sector is undergoing significant change as its workforce adjusts to a range of new platforms and devices, customer demands and business models, according to findings of a new independent study commissioned by Microsoft Ltd. The survey highlights how the vast majority (86%) of those building software and applications today believe the skills required are completely different from five to ten years ago. Nevertheless, the intake of new developers is strong with 48% claiming to have only started in the past five years. The research also underscores how the term “developer”* is no longer limited to just the more traditional technical developer community…

The UK applications and software development sector is undergoing significant change as its workforce adjusts to a range of new platforms and devices, customer demands and business models, according to findings of a new independent study commissioned by Microsoft Ltd. The survey highlights how the vast majority (86%) of those building software and applications today believe the skills required are completely different from five to ten years ago. Nevertheless, the intake of new developers is strong with 48% claiming to have only started in the past five years.

The research also underscores how the term “developer”* is no longer limited to just the more traditional technical developer community. Instead it now comprises a wider ecosystem of professionals, hobbyists and individuals responsible for marketing, who are also involved in the creation of applications and software.

“‘Geek Speak’ is not the language of a small club anymore, let alone the only skill required to succeed. The ecosystem of UK developers is growing rapidly, with professionals, hobbyists and a new breed of those responsible for commissioning applications bringing their own unique blend of passion and potential,” says Anand Krishnan, General Manager, Developer and Platform Group, Microsoft Limited. “It’s a world of opportunity – and harsh new challenges. The days of developing for a single platform, a single form factor, even a single kind of device are over. However, this study has revealed how in the face of uncertainty, ‘brave developers’ are forging a path ahead and see significant possibilities for growth and prosperity.”

The survey, conducted by Vanson Bourne, shows a number of indicators pointing to a positive outlook for developers working in the UK economy. Developer motivation overall is strong with nearly all (95%) optimistic about the future of this industry. In addition:

• 78% have found that demand for skills has grown massively over the last few years
• 86% believe they’ve barely scratched the surface of what's possible with software and applications
• 83% say demand for custom applications will increase hugely over the next few years
• 81% state enterprise applications is an area of opportunity not yet fully exploited
• 83% agree that when multichannel becomes a standard approach, it will be possible to take full advantage of features available across all platforms

However, with respondents suggesting that only half of new applications (51%) and software (51%) are delivering a reasonable Return on Investment (ROI), there remain a number of barriers that must be overcome. The top five challenges include:

1. Design requirements changing part way through development
2. The need for regular testing/updates when an operating system updates
3. Programming in multiple languages
4. Potential issues with security or privacy
5. Difficulty porting the application to multiple platforms

Krishnan continues: “’Brave development’ encapsulates the past two decades of expansion in the developer workforce, which has brought significant value to the UK economy in terms of skills, jobs and a thriving startup sector. It also reflects how there remain some key challenges that impact the industry. As a long term partner to the community, we undertook this research to better understand the needs of developers up and down the country today, whether they are on or off our platforms. We are committed to sharing our knowledge and resources to support developers across the board and engaging all those involved in this dynamic new developer ecosystem to ensure its continued success.”

Microsoft recently announced two key initiatives supporting the growth of UK developers and start-ups including:

• The Microsoft Ventures Accelerator: This 12 week programme is designed to help high-potential startups grow their business through a combination of 1:1 mentoring, technical assistance and access to resources designed for startups striving to break new ground in cloud, internet, mobile or gaming.
• Greenshoots: A programme jointly developed by Microsoft and Creative England, to support early stage startup game studios with bringing new and exciting game titles to the Windows platforms.
Philip Oliver from Made in Creative UK, an organisation, that aims to increase awareness of UK application and software industry adds: “Creating apps is a massive global business opportunity. Here in the UK we have a great position, but complacency will quickly see others around the world take these opportunities from us. We need to act now by supporting those entrepreneurs leading the charge and those that want to learn the skills required to join this growing industry.”

The full results of this nationwide study will be published in a forthcoming report from Microsoft on the state of the UK developer ecosystem.

*The survey includes 400 respondents: 220 professional developers, 80 hobbyists and 100 marketing decision makers responsible for commissioning application / software development.


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