As we move further into the digital age, technologies need to evolve quickly enough to support the constantly changing needs of the modern enterprise. While cloud computing has surged in popularity in recent years, most organizations must simultaneously continue to rely on their legacy systems for many of their core functions. Despite the cloud's ability to minimize IT infrastructure costs and adjust resources to meet fluctuating and unpredictable demand while getting applications up and running faster, 71 percent of the Fortune 500 and more than 90 percent of the world's largest 100 banks, 10 largest insurance companies and 25 largest retailers in the U.S. all continue to depend on outdated systems to power their mission-critical applications. This reliance is not without risk though. Companies across industries say their legacy applications struggle to evolve fast enough to support the shifting, evolving demands of the organization.
While modern business software solutions unlock organizational efficiencies, agility and the ability to deliver new value to customers, such tools were not available when applications deployed on mainframe systems were being developed. Today, many of the Fortune 500 companies, the world's largest banks and insurance companies and several of the largest retailers in the U.S. continue to rely on legacy programming languages, such as COBOL or Java, to power their applications. However, with new languages coming on the scene and experienced programmers in legacy languages exiting the workforce, organizations find themselves in an increasingly difficult spot. As proficient programmers retire or move on, organizations across industries are recognizing they no longer have the specialized domain knowledge of the industry and institution to effectively maintain and support their complex critical systems. To combat what is perceived as a skills shortage, organizations are sinking a significant amount of effort into hiring new developers, teaching them to write in the legacy languages and tasking them with changing enterprise systems.
From Connecticut to California, states across the country are in desperate need of COBOL - Common Business-Oriented Language - programmers. When the deluge of coronavirus-related unemployment claims began pouring in at the pandemic's onset, many of the decades-old government computer systems responsible for processing those claims struggled and, in many cases, crashed. Steve Brothers is President at Phase Change. With nearly 17 million unemployment claims filed between March 15 and April 4 of 2020, the exceptionally large volume of traffic and number of requests the U.S.'s unemployment systems experienced put myriad states behind the proverbial eight ball since they don't have the resources to maintain them. Consequently, the global crisis has left many state governments scrambling in search of COBOL-fluent coders.
Will 2022 be the year the year citizen developers finally take the reigns leading application development across their respective lines of business? It looks likely, thanks to emerging low-code, no-code and serverless solutions. And, importantly, there will also be another "citizen" in the mix -- professional developers themselves, rapidly accelerating their abilities to plan, assemble and maintain increasingly complex enterprise systems. Non-developers and developers alike are increasingly seeing greater sophistication in the applications they can build with low or no-code approaches. For example, one of the announcements coming out of AWS' recent re:Invent conference was an enhanced platform offering, Amazon SageMaker Canvas, designed to make AI development accessible to the masses through a visual, no code capability that enables business analysts to build machine learning models and generate accurate predictions without writing code or requiring machine learning expertise. Many other vendors are tacking toward offerings requiring little or no coding knowledge, with much of the backend integration and logic hidden in the background, powered by automation and AI.
While artificial intelligence (AI) is already effectively assisting human developers at every level of the development process, software development will only get better as it is about to undergo a huge change. Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the way developers work, resulting in significant productivity, quality and speed increases. Everything -- from project planning and estimation to quality testing and the user experience -- can benefit from AI algorithms. AI will undoubtedly impact how developers create applications and how users interact with them in the modern environment. As organizations become more interested in AI technologies, artificial intelligence will certainly affect the future of software development.