Stack Overflow & MongoDB Research Unveils Developer Productivity Struggles

Andrew Morgan


As part of our mission to help developers build better apps faster by providing a database platform that doesn’t hold them back, we are always looking for new ways to better understand the challenges devs face.

We recently undertook some research with Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers, and the findings confirmed a lot of what we already knew and believed, such as developers’ critical role in driving innovation and growth in every type of organization. They also unveiled some troubling disconnects that still exist between business leaders and their developers.

The research, which surveyed more than 1,000 developers worldwide, revealed that despite developers being seen as key drivers of enterprise innovation – with 68% of respondents viewing developers as the primary drivers – companies are failing to capitalize on their skills and abilities. Many (33%) believe their companies aren't gaining a competitive advantage because they don’t understand the technical realities and opportunities that developers face.

What’s holding back developers?

Findings revealed three main challenges developers are dealing with that hold them back from fully delivering as innovators:

  1. Spending too much time in the wrong places: 41% of a developer’s working day goes towards the upkeep of infrastructure, instead of innovation or bringing new products to market. Al fifth of their time (20%) is spent in meetings or administration – yawn!
  2. Current job demands are heavy: 58% of developers work more than eight hours a day, 32% work weekends, and 23% fail to take all of their vacation days. The previous point plays a part in this, with developers working extra hours to catch up after wasting time on managing their infrastructure.
  3. Developer’s dilemma: Today’s application users flat out expect applications to integrate with other services to provide a richer, more complete experience. That could be the ability to make payments through Stripe or PayPal, or to log in faster with Facebook ID and send text messages from within an app via Twilio. But the monotonous, backend coding that is required to provide this improved user experience is taking the focus away from the frontend experience: 41% of a developers' time building a new application is spent connecting to backend services, rather than on developing features to makes their applications unique.
How developers spend their time each week

It was with these challenges in mind that we launched MongoDB Stitch. As developers ourselves, we recognize that web, mobile, and IoT apps today almost always include a combination of services like authentication systems, payment apps, messaging platforms, or internal microservices.

Stitch lets developers focus on building applications rather than on managing data manipulation code, service integration, or backend infrastructure. Whether you’re just starting up and want a fully managed backend as a service, or you’re part of an enterprise and want to expose existing MongoDB data to new applications, Stitch lets you focus on building the app users want, not on writing boilerplate backend logic.

56% of developers believe that developers are the main drivers of innovation within organizations today

The cloud: challenge or opportunity?

The survey also asked developers about their experiences with the cloud, resulting in some interesting insights:

  • Cloud wars: Nearly half of the developers surveyed (42%) say security regulations at their company are the primary barrier to furthering cloud adoption within the organization. Amazon Web Services (39%) is currently ahead of Microsoft Azure (19%) and Google Cloud Platform (13%) when it comes to where companies host their apps.
  • Reality check on cloud migration: In regards to migrating services to the cloud, nearly half of the developers surveyed (43%) said they currently used cloud services and had expansion plans. However, there are still considerable barriers to cloud adoption, with nearly half of those surveyed (42%) noting that security, privacy, or regulatory concerns were all hindrances to cloud migration. On top of this, less than half of today’s apps (45%) are developed primarily for the cloud.
  • Cost and productivity benefits of Cloud-hosted DBaaS are well understood: Well over half (60%) of the developers surveyed fully understand the cost benefits of cloud-hosted Database as a Service (DBaaS) in that you pay for what you use. Half (50%) noted that DBaaS results in increased developer productivity and a faster time to market.

MongoDB Atlas is MongoDB’s answer to these cloud concerns. Fully-managed with best-in-class security, Atlas is the easiest and most cost-effective way to get started building great applications on MongoDB. We take care of the operations and security best practices and let developers focus on driving innovation.

Give the devs what they want

The rise of the developer within organizations has been an ongoing trend for years, and business leaders are increasingly recognizing the value that developers provide in keeping their companies competitive.

But to truly maximize the innovation that developers can provide, software developers will need the right technology in place – technology that is intuitive and natural to work with instead of creating additional speed bumps in the development process. For developers to truly take their rightful place as Kingmakers of the enterprise, business leaders will need to continue to grow their understanding of how to best arm their developer teams to drive a competitive edge in a software-centric world.

About the author - Andrew Morgan

Andrew is part of the MongoDB product team, responsible for building the vision, positioning, and content for MongoDB’s products and services, including the analysis of market trends and customer requirements. Before joining MongoDB, Andrew was director of product management for MySQL at Oracle – with a particular focus on distributed, highly available databases. Prior to Oracle, Andrew worked in software development for telecoms with a focus on HA, in-memory, real-time databases.