Build or die: Developers critical to business success, report says

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    Meg Buchanan
  • Feb 24, 2021

COVID-19 had a radical impact on digital communications across the globe. This post details the specific trends and insights from our 2021 State of Engagement report related to developers and building software.

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It’s been nearly a year since much of the world went into lockdown and businesses everywhere had to figure out how to scale for digital to reach and engage with their customers. In the rush to transition quickly, many businesses had to rely on fast-thinking developers to make digital transformation happen. 

In our annual State of Engagement report, we found that most of our respondents shared that sentiment with 93 percent saying that software developers were crucial to solving business challenges that arose from the pandemic. Further, 92 percent of C-level executives also strongly agreed that developers were crucial to business survival during 2020.  

So it’s no surprise that developer teams are a quickly growing necessity at most companies. With digital transformation fast forwarded nearly six years, the need to continue to build out communication channels isn’t slowing down any time soon. May of our respondents reported that their company is likely to build its own customer communications solutions going forward. 

In the past, developers have often been an underutilized business resource. Historically, companies have used software developers as coders or task takers handed specific projects, instead of being involved in bigger company problem solving. In a recent interview with CNBC, Twilio’s CEO Jeff Lawson explains why developers can actually be a massive resource in pushing your company’s digital transformation forward. 

“Developers are incredibly creative problem solvers. In order to get them thinking about how to move the company forward using all the skills they have, companies need to share with those developers the problems, not just solutions,” he said. “Executives need to go to their technical talent and say, ‘here’s a big hairy problem we’re trying to solve. What ideas do you have about how we can solve that?’ Instead of going to the technical talent and saying, ‘here’s a specification I want you to go for.”

Currently, just 33 percent of companies report building with programmable solutions like APIs, and 53 percent currently buy out-of-the-box solutions. A mere 14 percent of respondents reported choosing to expand on existing legacy infrastructure. With the age of harnessing the developer however, this is changing.

Utilizing developers to be problem solvers was integral to survival in 2020 and it will be essential to continuing to build in 2021 and beyond. Going forward, a full 91 percent of businesses surveyed report they’re more likely to build communications solutions than buy. 

It’s time to build. Is your company harnessing your developer talent to their highest potential? Learn more about our recent developer trend findings in our annual State of Engagement report here.

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Meg Buchanan

Meg Buchanan is a Colorado native, a Kansas Jayhawk, and a proud multi-tasking millennial. As Twilio's Content Marketing Manager, she has more than seven years of experience writing for both agencies and in-house brands on topics from healthcare to hospitality.