Talent and skills shortage continues to plague the information technology industry that companies are looking at the various use cases of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).
In an email interview with Back End News, Mark Weaser, regional VP for the Asia Pacific, OutSystems, explained how AI has the potential to transform the entire software lifecycle in Asia-Pacific enterprises by enabling them to model new applications, analyze their impact on the organization.
OutSystems is a global enterprise software company with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
“AI and ML (machine learning) will soon become an integral part of software development in the Asia-Pacific and the world,” Weaser said. “For example, AI will be a core component in increasingly intuitive development platforms will allow developers to apply cognitive learning and analytics to various application development and testing processes.”
Weaser said software development in the Asia Pacific (APAC) experienced an uptick in recent years. Before the advent of these additional tools, developers are required to be well-versed in multiple coding languages to be able to design and build new software.
“According to the 2019 State of Application Development report, 69% of respondents in the APAC actually planned to deliver 10 or more applications in 2019, with 52% of APAC respondents planning to deliver 50 or more applications in the year ahead,” he said. “With the demand for application development at an all-time high at a time when the business landscape changes at breakneck speed, IT teams realize that traditional software development methods cannot help them stay ahead of competitors.”
This explains why innovative tools such as low-code development platforms are getting traction. Weaser further explained that according to the 2019 State of Application Development Report, 43% of Asia-Pacific respondents said that their organization is already using a low-code platform, and a further 12% said that their organization plans to start using one soon.
Due to the talent shortage, software development had been slow in APAC in the past.
Quoting the 2019 State of Application Development Report, Weaser said “63% of APAC IT professionals said they have an application development backlog, with 16% of these respondents having a backlog of more than 10 applications. Furthermore, the average time to deliver a web or mobile application is five months or more, according to 46% of respondents in APAC.”
“IT talent recruitment and retention has been challenging as well,” Weaser said. “In APAC and globally, 85% of APAC respondents acknowledge that they have recruitment difficulties. For many specialties, recruitment was described as hard or very hard, with the three most difficult roles to hire (in rank order) being in the areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning, cybersecurity, and IoT.”
Despite the fact that 69% of Asia-Pacific organizations are investing in agile tools and services in the past year, agile practices only have an agile maturity score of 2.76 on a five-point scale on average. Most organizations in the APAC region are still in the process of defining agile processes.
AI technology has somewhat played the role of an enabler in the development process because it automates several tasks in the past. It also skipped other steps that were once part of the long process in software development.
“As systems are upgraded, their code requires a significant amount of refactoring, which is time-consuming and tedious,” Weaser explained. “AI allows necessary but low-value tasks such as refactoring and code troubleshooting to be automated, easing the entire application development and maintenance process for IT teams. That enables them to focus on driving innovation, among other more higher-level tasks.”
Traditionally, long periods of planning are required to get to a prototype level for testing. Combining AI assistants with low-code development technology enables software developers to save 25% more, according to Weaser, because they automate the processes of identifying and correcting bugs, real-time software coding, and more.
Weaser sees how organizations that have embarked on rapid digital transformation could benefit from AI-enabled software development.
“It delivers the ability to analyze millions of anonymized patterns and applications, learn constantly, and proactively search for new ways to enhance the software development process,” he said. “This is especially relevant for fast-changing industries such as financial services, for instance, which need to accelerate time-to-market, given the heightened focus on customer experience.”
Weaser provided data from AI Business which states that the AI market in APAC was estimated at around $450 million in 2017 and is expected to grow at CAGR (compound annual growth) of 46.9% by 2022.
“Based on the response to our AI-assisted software development early access program, we know that some Asia-Pacific organizations realize the potential of AI-driven software development to drive enhanced user experiences and create more efficient software,” Weaser said.
Weaser said AI and ML will continue to revolutionize software development, expanding beyond testing, code optimization, and modeling and into architecture, UX, and prescriptive development.
“Organizations will also build better applications faster as they benefit from recommendations for improving and refactoring applications prior to deployment based on an in-depth analysis of existing application structures,” Weaser said. “By utilizing AI-driven development, businesses can take advantage of feature guidance generated automatically based on data such as real-time usage patterns, error reporting, customer feedback, adoption rates, and business metrics.”