Join the top executives of the tech industry in San Francisco on July 11-12, to learn how to leverage AI investments for success. A recent survey conducted by GitHub in partnership with Wakefield Research revealed the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the developer experience. This survey, which included 500 U.S.-based developers from companies with more than 1,000 employees, focused on vital aspects of their career, such as developer productivity, team collaboration and the role of AI in enterprise environments. It was found that 92% of developers already use AI-powered coding tools in their work. Despite investments in DevOps, developers still face challenges. The majority of developers stated that their most time-consuming task is waiting on builds and tests. They also expressed concerns about repetitive tasks such as writing boilerplate code. They aspire to allocate more time to collaborate with peers, acquire new skills and create innovative solutions.
GitHub’s Chief Product Officer, Inbal Shani, believes these statistics indicate a growing need for improving efficiency in the development process. “We discovered that developers spend most of their time writing code and tests, then waiting for the code to be reviewed or for the builds to finish,” Shani said. “We also discovered that AI-powered coding tools enable individual developer productivity and greater team collaboration. This means generative AI helps developers generate greater impact, increase satisfaction and build more innovative solutions.”
The study suggests that businesses should prioritize their developers by identifying areas of friction, eliminating productivity barriers and fostering growth and momentum. Developer experience was found to be a major influence on productivity, satisfaction and impact. Collaboration emerged as a crucial aspect of the developer experience. Developers in enterprise settings typically collaborate with an average of 21 engineers on projects, making their collaborative skills essential in their performance evaluations. Over 80% of developers believe that AI-powered coding tools can enhance team collaboration, improve code quality, speed project completion and improve incident resolution.
Shani anticipates the 92% figure could have already increased since the study was conducted in March 2023. “We’ve already seen this impact from our customers using GitHub Copilot,” Shani said. “These developers feel 75% more fulfilled with their work and are already writing code more than 55% faster.” She believes that AI has the potential to significantly enhance various aspects of the developer experience. This includes expediting code delivery, facilitating intelligent code reviews, enhancing collaboration within the codebase, and overcoming disruptions in the development process that typically demand more cognitive effort.
The survey found that developers want more opportunities to upskill and drive impact. They ranked learning new skills, receiving feedback from end users and designing solutions to novel problems as key elements that positively impact their workday. It was revealed that an overwhelming majority of developers (92%) reported using AI-powered coding tools, with 70% believing they provide them an advantage at work.
Shani noted that while generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion have gained popularity, they continue to undergo rapid development, with concerns remaining about the occurrence of false outputs or hallucinations, as well as data privacy. Therefore, Shani stressed the importance of organizations investing in enterprise-grade AI coding tools that align with their efficacy and data privacy criteria. Furthermore, she emphasized the need to assist developers in integrating and optimizing their workflows around these approved tools.
The survey also highlighted the misalignment between current performance metrics and developer expectations. Code quality and collaboration were identified as the most important performance metrics, with developers expecting to be evaluated based on those criteria. Yet, according to Shani, leaders have traditionally assessed performance based on code quantity and output. Developers argue code quality and collaboration at least as important factors to evalute.
Shani advises organizations to start at the cultural level to identify workplace programs and policies that promote increased collaboration. She emphasizes the importance of establishing regular check-ins for working teams, scheduling meetings, and providing platforms for asynchronous communication through pull requests, issues and chat apps. Engineering leaders should also explore methods to standardize developer environments, such as using cloud-based IDEs or alternative solutions. These initiatives aim to minimize the time spent on machine setup and allow developers to focus more on collaborative problem-solving.
The study reveals that developers highly value mentor-mentee relationships and want more such relationships in their work environment. GitHub suggests that organizations can take this chance to invest in cost-effective measures that facilitate the growth and upskilling of their development teams. “Programs and processes that incentivize effective collaboration and communication, whether through documentation, effective meetings, or team components like mentor-mentee relationships, can help developers work together, enter a flow state and even grow their skills,” said Shani. “Through AI-powered coding tools, teams can start with simple things like code reviews or pair programming to stand up effective mentors across their organizations to help their more junior developers grow.”
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