With 900,000 developers, here's where the next big startup ecosystem will be

Gartner predicts that sharp growth in developer talent will see one region become an innovation powerhouse within the next five years.

Developers in discussion, looking at computer screen

Gartner recently unveiled its top predictions for IT organizations and users in 2022 and beyond.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Africa will become an innovation hotbed in the next five years as an influx of developers turns the continent into a "world-leading start-up ecosystem," according to Gartner.

The analyst predicts that a 30% increase in developer talent in Africa, which has in recent years seen an influx of venture capital funding, will see the region evolve into a software development powerhouse rivalling Asia by 2026.

A number of African nations have established innovation hubs in an effort to attract coders and tech talent to the region, and draw investment from overseas.

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This includes Kenya's $1 billion tech ecosystem – dubbed 'Silicon Savannah' – which continues to attract entrepreneurs, investors and technologists from Africa and further afield.

"In the next three years, there will be nearly 900,000 professional developers across Africa enabled by the rise of informal education channels," said Gartner. "As this market continues to grow, global investors will reduce their venture investment in China in favour of this emerging market."

The analyst's forecast was part of a series of strategic predictions put forward at Gartner's IT Symposium/Xpo 2021 Americas.

Daryl Plummer, research vice president at Gartner, said the disruption caused by the pandemic and ongoing uncertainty meant organizations and wider industries should be "prepared to move in multiple strategic directions at once," particularly when it came to innovation and digitization, as well as fundamental changes to the workforce.

As such, Gartner predicts a shift to more autonomous styles of working over the next three years as organizations adopt remote and hybrid-working models.

In particular, the analyst said just under a third (30%) of corporate teams will operate without a boss by 2024 as company structure moves away from having decision-making made at the centre and towards "peer-to-peer network-based decision making that reduces bottlenecks and saves time in a hybrid-working environment."

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Removing the traditional manager role could be a logical route to improving efficiency, said Plummer. "The role of the manager as the commander-and-controller of work is a major impediment in an era where business agility requires team empowerment and autonomy," he added.

"Planning, prioritising and organising work efforts still must happen, but it is essential to decouple 'management' from the traditional 'manager' role to reap the benefits of business agility and hybrid work."

Gartner analyst, John Kostoulas, stressed that while the traditional manager role might fade away, it was not "primarily a reduction in force exercise."

Kostoulas told ZDNet: "Managers possess valuable skills that can maximize the performance of teams in other roles than the boss; they can transition into coaching, talent acquisition or capability development roles. Career paths are required to transition managers into individual –  or rather, team – performers."  

Further research-based predictions made by Gartner:

  • By 2024, a cyberattack will so damage critical infrastructure that a member of the G20 will reciprocate with a declared physical attack.

Cyberattacks have historically been treated by nations as crime. However, increasingly severe attacks will prompt military involvement, said Gartner.

  • By 2025, synthetic data will reduce personal customer data collection, avoiding 70% of privacy violation sanctions.

Data generated using artificial intelligence (AI) techniques, known as synthetic data, will put pressure on organizations to reduce the risk of privacy violations and ensure resiliency.

"Synthetic data makes AI truly prophetic, as it can represent future alternative realities, not just the past that the real data reflects," said Plummer. "Using high-quality and high-volume synthetic data is a powerful way to understand humans at scale."

  • By 2024, 40% of consumers will trick behaviour-tracking metrics to intentionally devalue the personal data collected about them, making it difficult to monetise.

Tech-savvy consumers are increasingly undermining companies' efforts to track them, such as providing false credential details or clicking on ads they aren't interested in to manipulate and confuse algorithms.  

"Whether motivated by privacy and security concerns, exposure to misinformation or desire for personal monetary gain, consumers are aiming to devalue the behavioural data companies have come to rely upon," said Plummer.