Analyst firm Forrester has encouraged businesses to recruit software developers who take part in open source projects, as it shows they are keeping their skills current.
“When looking at your talent, ask software developers if they work with open source. Even if it is outside their work, they’re probably keeping their skills set up,” said Kyle McNabb, VP and practice leader of application development and delivery at Forrester, at a recent Forrester event.
His advice was part of an overall call to businesses in all industries to make software development a core competency of the business, rather than just a commodity or a support function.
“What’s the iPhone without iOS? What’s Facebook without software?” he pointed out.
The main challenge for businesses is that software development has been extensively outsourced over the last 10 years. This has led to a skills shortage.
“We’ve outsourced a lot of the talent. You need people internally. You’ve got to build the skills on your own,” said McNabb.
In particular is a shortfall in business analytics and solution architect talent, which is needed to develop tools and processes to extract insight from Big Data.
“Big Data is extremely immature. You can’t bring in [open source, Big Data analytics platform] Hadoop and expect it to give results. You need software and engineering development help,” he said.
McNabb said that companies are starting to bring software development skills back in house, starting with mobile applications.
However, organisations are only in the very early stages of this process, he said, with consumer-facing (B2C) businesses in the media, financial services and retail sectors most likely to be doing this.
To attract the right talent, companies need to make software developers feel that they are more than just coders in a back room.
“Software developers are looking for an open environment, and for an organisation that does not look at software as code, but as a means of creating experiences. [That is] treating software as part of the business,” said McNabb.
“And they’re going to have to pay for it [the skills],” he added, noting that there is a particular salary premium in the US with the likes of Google as a competitor employer.