'The world is running out of developers', says Salesforce exec

Developers with AI and automation skills are in ever higher demand. Here's why.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer
developers working
Getty Images/Maskot

The recent spate of downsizings at technology companies won't last long because demand for technology capabilities, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and integration, is only getting more intense. 

While AI might help companies deal with the demand for talent, especially when it comes to more mundane tasks, it's also important to recognize that the demand for skilled professionals will just keep growing.

Also: Meet the post-AI developer: More creative, more business-focused

That's the word from Brent Hayward, CEO and general manager for Salesforce's MuleSoft division. I caught up with Hayward at Salesforce's recent New York gathering and he provided insights on the evolving landscape for technology skills.

"There aren't enough developers in the world," he said. "We've already achieved exit velocity, where the pace of apps and the pace of technology is way outpacing the ability to bring on tech workers." 

Hayward said the complexity of today's environments also contributes to the tightening squeeze: "It's almost impossible to be a full-stack developer anymore. There are too many technologies. And what courses do you take over a lifetime to know how all this stuff works?"

Recent employment data backs up Hayward's assertions. "Demand for talent, particularly people with technology skills, remains favorable, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data," reported Deloitte analysts in the Wall Street Journal. "For employees in the information and technology sector, the demand is particularly strong. There were 41,000 more hires than layoffs in January, with 99,000 job openings." 

Also: ChatGPT is the most sought out tech skill in the workforce, says learning platform

While innovative AI and automation technologies might mean businesses need more highly capable talent, these emerging technologies can also help to alleviate skills shortages. AI and automation can perform low-level and tedious integration tasks, elevating the tasks of developers and IT specialists to "reviewing and validating the mapping", said Hayward. 

As part of this process of skills enrichment, he said AI is going to help level the playing field, providing advanced knowledge to all organizations: "We're going to find that in low-code, no-code, and even pro-code scenarios, we're giving everyone the best knowledge."

Also: I used ChatGPT to write the same routine in these ten obscure programming languages

At the same time, human talent will remain key to implementation. "I don't know if it will ever replace the most knowledgeable and deepest developer that you have," he said. "Boy, what an opportunity to level the playing field to bring the lowest common denominator up to the median. You'll have less errors, less issues, and be able to build for scale more effectively."

Hayward said the challenge for enterprises -- and this is where technology talent will remain in high demand -- is "the need to connect that backend, pro-developer integration and systems automation patterns with more new modern, task-based workflow triggers. Those worlds are blending. While the world is running out of developers relative to scale, the world is growing very smart people that use applications and know the data model. As these worlds come together, we're seeing a very powerful paradigm shift."

Editorial standards