Forbes: Has Software Development Taken On A Millennial Mindset?

Has Software Development Taken On A Millennial Mindset?

CTO and Co-Founder of mobile growth marketing platform YouAppi, bringing nearly 20 years of R&D experience to make mobile engaging.

As a long-time IT professional who came of age in my career during the height of software development, I’ve watched with interest as the proliferation of cloud-based architecture has coincided with the rise of a new generation of developers. Many members of the millennial generation, and increasingly those of Generation Z, value many of the same things cloud development enables — namely, rapid innovation, shared risk and a sense of community.

In my current role as chief technology officer for a global company, I recognize the importance of creating an environment that appeals to and nurtures the rising generation of IT talent. The values and preferences of today’s newest engineers and developers could prove the strongest catalyst behind the software-driven digital transformation.

The Evolution Of IT

To understand the current landscape, it’s important we take a look back at how software development has evolved. Generation X developers took modern software development to scale. Many members of this generation, of which I am a part, grew accustomed to designing and building systems entirely from the ground up. As with any new technology, adoption of the cloud took time and we needed to first see that cloud platforms could provide production-level and enterprise-grade services at scale.

We also had to change our way of thinking about integration, from a product focus with the likes of third-party providers such as Oracle, IBM or Microsoft and instead into a service focus where cloud architecture allowed us to use its services which would then tie directly into our own company’s product or service offerings. In this way, we had to learn to delegate some of the responsibility of our development but were rewarded with significant time savings and the ability to put our expertise into those areas that brought the most value to our business.

While my generation may have been early adopters, today’s rise in cloud technology has mirrored the rise of a new generation of engineers and developers — namely millennials. The principles behind cloud technologies mirror the values that this generation often gravitates toward. What’s more, as many millennials may have come on board with their unique perspective toward the cloud and development in general, they have helped shape attitudes and approaches from their older Generation X and baby boomer peers.

The Millennial Mindset

Today, millennials account for more than one-third of the workforce, but by 2025, that number is expected to jump to 75%. As a whole, millennials are hard-wired for innovation. One Microsoft report found that as they take on more leadership roles they are pushing organizations to adopt technologies like the cloud in order to spur innovation.

Many millennials have proven they are less risk-averse than their older counterparts, more open to ongoing learning opportunities and show greater flexibility in requiring new skill sets to adapt to changing technologies.

Additional attributes of this generation fly in the face of the traditional, siloed approach to IT. Millennials may prefer working in teams rather than working as an individual, thus building a stronger internal community and more integrated employee ecosystem. They drive updated processes by expecting technology integration in every aspect of their work. Most notably, millennials may prefer meaningful work and work experiences that positively impact them or those they serve rather than focusing on the win.

How Cloud Contributes

Cloud-based architecture is ideal for the unique traits of our newest generation of developers. Cloud breeds collaboration and is a perfectly suited tool for the team mindset. The platform offers more immediate results which match the level of patience of millennials and Generation Z alike, who have grown up with technology integrated into their daily lives.

What’s more, cloud lends itself to an agile way of thinking, allowing developers today to not only move quickly but to focus on the why behind a project rather than the how. This explains the progressive role and impact of DevOps teams within organizations, offering greater opportunity to collaborate with the company as a whole. The platform and the new train of thought it inspires interrupts many members of previous generations’ willingness to adopt a top-down, hierarchical approach that left little room for outside opinion.

Finally, working in the cloud makes it easier to access and utilize the latest and greatest technology capabilities, a significant motivation for today’s rising generation who want to ensure they stay on the cutting edge of innovation.

As we look ahead in IT and consider the future, we may very well see organizations that are open and willing to build on cloud platforms and will likely have the competitive advantage in retaining top talent from millennials and Generation Z. Today’s tech leaders, whether CTOs, vice presidents or heads of research and development, would do well to keep this in mind when making decisions on product architecture.

The proliferation of digital transformation across industries, particularly as it relates to software development and IT architecture, will prove a significant change for today’s organizations — not just on the technical side, but culturally as well, as the rising generations influence a new way of working.

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