Why software development matters

Technology is creating jobs, not just in programming but also in sales, marketing, operations, finance and human resources in tech businesses and traditional industries.

Software engineers power technology, and they are increasingly able to come up with innovative solutions that enable UK businesses to compete in a global market.

More than 600,000 startups were created in 2015, creating jobs and driving the UK economy. Many of these were either technology businesses or used technology to remove significant barriers to market.

Technology has become integral to any business. Marianne Lake, CFO of investment bank JPMorgan, was recently quoted as saying: “We are a technology company.”

Retailers, publishers, manufacturers and other industries that might not traditionally be branded as technology companies, increasingly realise that their survival and future success depends on gaining a competitive advantage through technology.

They often seek help to drive innovation in their engineering teams through engagement with developer communities such as Skills Matter.

Someone put it to me that the UK’s recent decision to leave Europe was as much driven by a discomfort with the speed of innovation and globalisation as it was by other reasons, such as immigration or concerns about sovereignty.

He pointed out that my industry, the tech industry, is growing too quickly and perhaps needs to slow down a little. He illustrated this with an example. A truck driver working for a transport company for the past 20 years, probably earning £30k-£35k per year, still a decade or two away from retirement and two kids to raise, is going to be unhappy with innovation such as driverless cars, and so innovation is creating an unfair world.

This may of course be true, unless we give his daughter the skills to design that driverless car, his son the ability to come up with new business models that will launch a whole new industry, and his grandchildren the opportunity to gain the work experience they need to take a new concept to a global market.

Running a business for just over a decade has taught me you need to pick your fights. Trying to slow innovation is not one I would pick. Coming up with new ideas and approaches to challenges is integral to humankind. Someone invented a car, a delivery truck. Someone invented the business model for a successful transport company.

Even if we were able to slow or stop innovation in the UK, we would never be able to do so in the wider world. And if we try, we will deprive our kids of the opportunity to gain the skills they need to be participants in the future economy, to find jobs in this country instead of elsewhere.

Technology and software development is powering growth in every industry. It is giving many British businesses a competitive advantage and is creating new industries where our kids can find a successful future.

Wendy Devolder is CEO of Skills Matter, a community of 70,000 software engineers.