A growing area of focus is analytics developer experience, and for good reason. As with applications, analytics teams need to respond to business needs in an agile manner, and developers play a crucial role. But how exactly does developer experience fit into the broader scheme of things? I asked Mark Frankish, one of our resident data scientists, and developer coach, for his views.
Where is this focus on developer experience coming from?
Developer experience is the new customer experience in analytics. Over the last few years, organisations have placed huge emphasis on improving end-user and customer experience. This has been positive and a major differentiator of quality. We are now starting to see the same importance being placed on analytics developer experience. There is increasing recognition that developers are, in effect, the customers of a new type of software.
Are analytics developers a large community?
The number of analytics developers is increasing. There are at present over 1,400 analytics developer jobs advertised on LinkedIn, across a wide range of locations and employers. Further, a search for “data scientist” yields 21,000 results. Many, perhaps most, data scientists are also analytics developers. Demand for analytics developers is only likely to rise. This expected increase in the number of analytics developers will have knock-on effects for tech companies, and soon-to-be-tech companies. This is part of the digital transformation many companies are undergoing – all companies are becoming tech companies to stay competitive.
What are developers looking for?
There is no ‘one size fits all’ for developers. Developers are individuals. They have a wide range of preferences for tools, languages, and interfaces, and there is very definitely no single preferred standard. The key for developer experience is therefore to build in flexibility, and ensure that software products work with a wide range of tools and technologies, so that developers can always work with their preferred tools.
So this is a technology proposition?
Not all of it. Analytics developer experience requires a programmer-friendly approach right across all products and services. Certainly, work to improve analytics developer experience includes use of REST Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), scripting languages, tools, and extensibility of products for customers or consultants. In effect, everything—right across the board—has to be as usable and friendly to programmers as the user interfaces are intended to be for end-users. This needs a coherent effort across all elements to make sure that the flow and usability is right. It also calls for coherence and thinking about the whole picture, not just one element. Co-operation and close working is essential. Improving analytics developer experience is likely to be a whole-company issue, just as improving customer experience took effort right across the board.
How does innovation in this space work?
Innovation today is happening in the developer community – this is where integration and new features are popping up across industries as developers embrace new APIs and mash them up into completely novel solutions that were never possible before. A great developer experience helps companies find – and retain – new developer partners.