Quantifying Business Advantages: The Value of Database Selection
To some, the database is a low-level infrastructure component of a much larger application -- something that only developers, DBAs and operations staff need to care or worry about. However, in the digital economy, data is the raw currency. How an organization stores, manages, analyzes and uses data has a direct impact on its success -- and its costs. Its choice of database affects how quickly it can deliver new applications to market, support business growth and improve customer experience. Consider these examples: After trying for eight years to build a single view of their customer, one of the world’s leading insurance companies changed database and delivered the project in just three months A leading telecommunications provider adopted a new database technology and were able to accelerate time to market by 4x, reduce engineering costs by 50% and improve customer experience by 10x A Tier 1 investment bank rebuilt its globally-distributed reference data platform on a new database technology, enabling it to save an estimated $40M over five years Singles can now find their ideal partner 95% faster after one of the world’s leading relationship providers switched data and machine learning to a new platform Why is database selection becoming so critical? Because the requirements of modern applications and the demands of sophisticated, data-savvy users are changing. Data is being generated at much faster rates than ever before and can yield insights never previously possible. The data no longer fits neatly into structured rows and columns. Windows of market opportunity are getting smaller. Underlying infrastructure is being commoditized, with powerful systems available for just pennies per hour. The database chosen by a project team can be the enabler -- or the blocker -- to success. All of the assumptions that have dictated database selection over the past 30 years are being revisited as a result of the factors discussed above. To learn more about the challenges some of the world’s largest and most innovative companies faced, and how their selection of database enabled them to deliver applications and outcomes that were never previously possible, download our new whitepaper
The Rise of the Strategic Developer
The work of developers is sometimes seen as tactical in nature. In other words, developers are not often asked to produce strategy. Rather, they are expected to execute against strategy, manifesting digital experiences that are defined by the “business.” But that is changing. With the automation of many time-consuming tasks -- from database administration to coding itself -- developers are now able to spend more time on higher value work, like understanding market needs or identifying strategic problems to solve. And just as the value of their work increases, so too does the value of their opinions. As a result, many developers are evolving, from coders with their heads-down in the corporate trenches to highly strategic visionaries of the digital experiences that define brands. “I think the very definition of ‘developer’ is expanding,” says Stephen “Stennie” Steneker, an engineering manager on the Developer Relations team at MongoDB. “It’s not just programmers anymore. It’s anyone who builds something.” Stennie notes that the learning curve needed to build something is flattening. Fast. He points to an emerging category of low code tools like Zapier, which allows people to stitch web apps together without having to write scripts or set up APIs. “People with no formal software engineering experience can build complex automated workflows to solve business problems. That’s a strategic developer.” Many other traditional developer tasks are being automated as well. At MongoDB, for example, we pride ourselves on removing the most time-consuming, low-value work of database administration. And of course, services like GitHub Copilot are automating the act of coding itself. So what does this all mean for developers? A few things: First, move to higher ground. In describing one of the potential outcomes of GitHub Copilot, Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott said, ““It may very well be one of those things that makes programming itself more approachable.” When the barriers to entry for a particular line of work start falling, standing still is not an option. It’s time to up your strategic game by offering insight and suggestions on new digital experiences that advance the objectives of the business. Second, accept more responsibility. A strategic developer is someone who can conceive, articulate, and execute an idea. That also means you are accountable for the success or failure of that idea. And as Stennie reminded me, “There are more ways than ever before to measure the success of a developer’s work.” And third, never stop skilling. Developers with narrow or limited skill sets will never add strategic value, and they will always be vulnerable to replacement. Like software itself, developers need to constantly evolve and improve, expanding both hard and soft skills. How do you see the role of the developer evolving? Any advice for those that aspire to more strategic roles within their organizations? Reach out and let me know what you think at @MarkLovesTech .