Hackernoon logoReviewing The 2020 Tech Lead Developer Survey by Couchbase (Podcast Transcript) by@amymtom

Reviewing The 2020 Tech Lead Developer Survey by Couchbase (Podcast Transcript)

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Amy Tom Hacker Noon profile picture

@amymtomAmy Tom

Hacker Noon Editor, businesswoman, podcaster, and true crime lover

In this episode, Amy Tom talks to Matt Groves, the Senior Product Marketing Manager at Couchbase, and Brant Burnett, the Systems Architect at CenterEdge Software about the results from the 2020 Tech Lead Developer survey that was conducted by Couchbase. The survey revealed that 86% of respondents experienced challenges within their development teams. Amy, Matt, and Brant broke down the challenges, which included setting clear, measurable goals and having access to the right technology.

In this episode, Amy talks to Matt and Brant about:

  • Setting clear and measurable goals was indicated as one of the biggest challenges developer teams faced in 2020 (06:48)
  • Investing in the right tools can save you time and money. Remember that the tools aren't generally your biggest expense; the people are. Focusing on making them as productive as possible is really the best way to save money (09:10)
  • Addressing organizational technical debt is another common challenge that developer teams face (15:22)
  • Hiring increased in development teams across 2020. Last year opened the doors to remote hiring, which allows developer teams to hire the best of the best regardless of timezone (26:19)

Read more about the 2020 Tech Lead Developer Survey

Follow Matt Groves + Couchbase:

Follow Brant Burnett + CenterEdge:

Podcast Transcript (Machine-Generated, Excuse The Errors)

Amy Tom: [00:00:00] Good Morning, Good Afternoon, and Good Evening, wherever and whenever you are listening, this is the Hacker Noon Podcast, and my name is Amy Tom. Today, I'm joined by Matt Groves from Couchbase and Brant Burnett from Centeredge. So Matt, could you start off by telling us a bit more about you and your involvement in Couchbase?

Matt Groves: [00:00:20] Sure, Amy, thanks for having me on the show. I appreciate being on here. I actually, I've been at Couchbase for just about five years, which is crazy to think about, but my current title is a product marketing manager. I started out as a developer advocate at Couchbase. I'm very technical focused.

[00:00:38] On kind of communicating with developers and getting their feedback and working to create materials and tutorials and all kinds of content that help developers to help technical leads out. And that's the kind of thing I love to do. I actually am a developer before I came to Couchbase as a consultant, as a in-house, as.

[00:00:56] All kinds of, I worked on products before, so I have a very technical background. And so I just kind of try to apply that to my current role in the marketing marketing team. 

Amy Tom: [00:01:06] Amazing. May I ask what your educational background is? 

Matt Groves: [00:01:10] My educational background. It actually fits my current job pretty well. So my bachelor's degree is in computer science. So hardcore math, logic programming, my master's degrees, an MBA business administration. So I'm kind of taking a kind of drawing from both of those, into my current role. 

Amy Tom: Right. That's great. And Brant, what about you? 

Brant Burnett: [00:01:29] I'm the systems architect at Center Edge Software, it's a company that focuses on the own premise entertainment industry.

[00:01:36] So waterparks amusement parks, trampoline, parks, I, everything, even down to small little skating rinks use our software. I've been there since 2004 now. So a very long time I started off as a regular developer and I've kind of. Moved my way up as the company has grown. And so now I deal with a lot of our cloud technologies, making decisions about technologies.

[00:01:58] You use, how things interacted. I'm still a hands-on developer as well. So I still get in there and get my hands dirty.

Amy Tom: [00:02:05] Ooh, very interesting. That's a very cool industry to work in. And what is your educational background in? 

Brant Burnett: [00:02:10] I'm mostly self-taught actually, I did go to school for a couple of years for a computer science degree, but then decided I liked making money better than paying them.

Amy Tom: [00:02:18] Okay. So you didn't finish your degree?

Brant Burnett: [00:02:20] I did not. 

Amy Tom: [00:02:21] And did you find that ever held you back? 

Brant Burnett: [00:02:23] No. Even currently at Center Edge, you know, on all of our job positions, we always say a college degree or equivalent work experience. 

Amy Tom: [00:02:32] Yeah. 

Brant Burnett: [00:02:32] So I guess I got lucky in the early days and was able to get that good work experience in, and then since then it's never been a problem.

Amy Tom: [00:02:39] Yeah, that's really good to hear. I think there is heavy emphasis on getting a degree in certain fields, but I don't have a degree either. I have a diploma of marketing, so I remember going to school or coming out of school. And I was very worried that I wasn't going to get a job, but it worked out for me too. So that's good to hear. 

[00:02:57] So I wanted to talk to you guys about the Couchbase Tech Lead Survey that I believe was released earlier this year in February, right? 

Matt Groves: [00:03:04] I think that's right. I think the survey was actually administered in late 2020, but I think we published results just recently.

Amy Tom: [00:03:12] Right. And Matt, could you tell us a little bit more about the background of the survey? 

Matt Groves: [00:03:16] Sure. So this is a survey. The Couchbase has been running since 2017. There's a lot of developer surveys out there and this one is kind of similar to those, but it's actually a survey for tech leads and it's asking about developers.

[00:03:30] So it goes out to about a four. Well, we got responses from 450 decision-makers, IT decision-makers in the United States, UK, France, and Germany. And we kind of asked them about the challenges in their projects and how it's affecting their developer teams. This is what we're learning for a long time, but of course, this is a relatively unique year, so it's very interesting to take a look at these results.

[00:03:52] Now I work for Couchbase and Couchbase Server is a database that's often really central to a lot of. Projects that deal with adaptation and change. So it's helpful for us to know what tech leads and decision-makers are thinking about their projects and how they're going. So yeah, this was a September 2020 timeframe.

[00:04:13] So this covers a lot of the events of 2020 that have taken place and gets opinions and responses up until that point. 

Amy Tom: [00:04:21] Right. When you say tech lead slash it decision maker, are we talking like maybe it manager and above kind of level or that's? 

Matt Groves: [00:04:30] I think that's probably accurate. I don't know all the exact titles that have gone into this, but You know, there's lots of other surveys out there that speak to developers specifically about different languages they're using.

[00:04:40] We're kind of taking a step up from that and saying, okay, the people who are responsible for these teams who are making decisions about technology, what are their thoughts about the developers themselves? So it's a picture of developers from the people that they report to, or at least report up to.

Amy Tom: [00:04:58] Right. So I want to dive in to a little bit of the findings from the survey. Now I ride one of the main points of the survey is that I think it's 86% of respondents experienced challenges within their development teams. That's a lot. Could you elaborate on that? 

Matt Groves: [00:05:13] Well, you know, I don't think that's too surprising.

[00:05:16] I think there's always challenges. When it comes to dealing with technology. And so that's not terribly surprising that they're all dealing with challenges. What I think is kind of interesting is more about what kind of challenges they're dealing with and you know, where do those rank this year and then how can we, you know, monitor that as we go forward. What's the change going to be after the, this is years unlike any other year, so what's the change going to be next year or later on. Right. So I think those that's the more interesting areas. 

Amy Tom: [00:05:43] Right. And Brant, do you feel that 86% is accurate as well?

Brant Burnett: [00:05:48] Yeah, I think that 86% number makes sense to me. Developers and management always have very different outlooks and very different mindsets. You know, management's always looking for hard things like this project will be done in three months. Whereas developers, you know, you know, we're, we don't know when things are gonna get done.

[00:06:07] Cause we don't know what the problems we're going to encounter are going to be so problems like that are normal in how you deal with those problems kind of really defines you as a company. 

Amy Tom: [00:06:16] Right. And so diving into the different challenges that they actually face. Do you feel, I don't know, kindred to the sentiment that setting clear and measurable goals for the development team, which accounted for 40% of the challenges that the team faced overall.

[00:06:34]Do you feel that that's accurate. 

Brant Burnett: [00:06:37] Yes, I definitely do. I mean, it's a challenge that we face today and are actually having meetings every other week about how we can deal with that at Center Edge. Yeah, I definitely feel that it's very accurate. 

Amy Tom: [00:06:48] Okay. So setting clear and measurable goals for the development team, seeing as it's such a huge problem, what is your experience with trying to solve that problem?

Brant Burnett: [00:07:00] Oh that's a tough one. It, my experience is that there's a balance really between Getting those accurate estimations and setting those deadlines versus agility and productivity. If you spend too much effort setting deadlines that are too stringent and too accurate, then I think that actually reduces your ability to be agile and change what you're doing as well as it eats into your productivity, because you're spending so much time doing that preparatory work.

[00:07:27] So finding that right balance is kind of the key, right. And who is setting these goals? At center edge is it's kind of a joint effort. You know, there's a question of, you know, what management would like to be the goal is to be, and also what developers think are reasonable goals and trying to find that middle ground I can't really speak to other companies.

[00:07:45] I think there's probably a pretty broad spectrum of how they handle it. 

Amy Tom: [00:07:48] Yeah. And Matt, do you have an example of what a clear and measurable goal might be. 

Matt Groves: [00:07:55] Yeah. I think the problem with why this is a challenge is because there's two words here it's clear and measurable, so you can make, I think it's, you know, you could probably be pretty successful making a clear goal.

[00:08:08] You could probably be successful making a measurable goal, but making them clear and measurable, I think is the real challenge. Right? You may, it may be a goal to say, Oh, we need to increase revenue. Of course that's everyone's goal. Right? And we can measure that by the whole company, by just looking at the revenue, but how do we actually tie that to individuals or to teams?

[00:08:29]You know, certainly like a sales department might get a lot of the direct revenue in, but you know, how much of that do we attribute to a specific project that goes in it goes into what we're working on. Right. So that's, it's very tough to do that. And I think that's probably why it's it's the biggest challenge here in the survey and it's probably going to be that way if I had to predict you know, next, next time and previous times as well.

Amy Tom: [00:08:53] Yeah. Yes, exactly. So the next item, which is also a 40% of what respondents are experiencing challenges around is ensuring the development teams always have the right technology. So what does that mean to you, Matt? 

Matt Groves: [00:09:09] Yeah. So to me having the right technology is this is tricky, but you know, one of the things that I think is important and is growing in importance is a developer's influence upon.

[00:09:21]Which, which tools they should be using for whatever projects, whether it's a database like Couchbase or whether it's, you know, the right IDE they want for their environment. And, you know, in, in some organizations that's just dictated, like you have to use this tool, you have to use this tool. But I, I think if we expect developers to accomplish  to do more with less time as the survey is also kind of pointing out, then we have to give them some better autonomy and listen to them and say, if they say, we need this tool to accomplish this that's different than what we've ever done before. Then maybe it's something we need to listen to them about and say, yeah, I think the developers who are ones are using these tools they're going to be the ones that have to deal with them.

[00:10:01]We should Let them have some more influence and let the, let them affect the decisions a little more.

Amy Tom: [00:10:07] Right. And so Brant with you being on the actual development team, or maybe more hands on the ground what are your thoughts on finding the right technology for you and your team?

Brant Burnett: [00:10:19]  I definitely think it is very developer driven, at least for us. And I think that's really the best way to drive it. At least within reasonable bounds of cost. I mean, within small items, we really let the developers choose what they want to do and do whatever they want. As the cost goes up, the amount of management involvement clearly is going to increase as well. 

Amy Tom: [00:10:40] Right. 

[00:10:40]Brant Burnett: [00:10:40] But I think an important thing to remember is that generally speaking. The tools aren't your biggest expense. The people are and focusing on making them as productive as possible is really the best way to save money. 

Amy Tom: [00:10:56] Yeah. You know, yesterday we had a meeting with the Hacker Noon team and we talked about how our people are the busy.

[00:11:02] Biggest sources of expenses and how our team is extremely frugal. We love to not spend money on technology. And we think that we can just do it ourselves, but finding that right tool is super important because it's, it saves you time. And time is money, especially when you're considering that you have to pay for all of the salaries of developers and whatnot.

[00:11:24] It's sometimes more expensive than finding the right tool or paying a small subscription fee to just get the job done faster. I think so that's definitely a great point. The next item on the list is 31% ensuring the development team clearly understands the strategic goals. In my mind, I think the strategic goals are going to be coming from the higher ups.

[00:11:47] So Matt, what is the best way that higher ups can clearly communicate the strategic goals of the organization to the development teams? 

Matt Groves: [00:11:58] So this one's challenging because I think it depends a lot on the industry that they're in. You know, an organization. I personally, I think that leadership should just be as transparent as possible and say, here's what we're doing and here's why we're doing it. And this is our thought process and you may disagree with parts of it, but this is, you know, we've gone through all these discussions and we're willing to answer questions and. We're trying to be as open as possible. Now that's maybe hard to do in certain industries where you know, that information is something you don't want necessarily to leak out to your competitors or anything like that.

[00:12:30] Or if it's a very large organization, you know, that's very difficult to handle a large volume of questions from people from very diverse sets of interests. So I think the best way to go about this is just to try to be as open as possible. And and just, you know, keep a virtual open door to questions and, you know, recognize that if people have questions about the objectives and goals or disagreements about it, that they're it's safe for them to express that.

[00:13:01] And to provide that feedback and it's not going to be something that, Oh, you, if you don't toe the company line exactly. Then you know, then you're not welcome here. That sort of thing, welcome the diversity of opinions and and thoughts on the objectives. 

Amy Tom: [00:13:16] Right. Part of what I hear you saying is to explain the why of the goal, right?

Matt Groves: [00:13:22] Exactly. 

Amy Tom: [00:13:23] Okay. Yeah. That when employees don't understand why they're being measured on a certain value or why a company is following a specific strategic goal, it definitely makes it a lot harder to follow it or really care about it. Or they just don't understand what the point is. 

[00:13:39] So Brant  Do you feel like 31% is accurate to the challenges that most organizations are facing of experiencing not so clear strategic organizational goals.

Brant Burnett: [00:13:54] Yeah, I think that definitely sounds pretty accurate to me. I know it's a problem that we have struggled with from time to time at Center Edge. And I definitely agree with Matt and you that the the why is very important. I kind of look at it the same way you do abstraction layers in development. When you're developing something, given abstraction layer, you usually want to kind of understand what's happening at least a little bit. At least one layer back behind that abstraction. So as you understand, in development terms, you know, what's the performance profile of using this particular type of collection.

[00:14:24] And I think the same thing kind of applies to what management's telling you. They're telling you what to do, but giving you that next layer behind it, that why really gives you the ability to make better decisions when questions arise about, well, should I approach it this way or should I approach it this way? That why you just gives you that. That piece of the puzzle that you need. 

Amy Tom: [00:14:45] Yeah. Right. I think I think you're absolutely right. I think that another piece that's really good to understand is the company values along with the strategic goals, because I think it kind of goes hand in hand and when you're trying to make decisions at an individual level, so you can still support the overall organizational values and goals.

[00:15:05] So that's a great point, Brant. The other point of the survey under the experiencing challenges with the development team is another 31%. And that goes to identifying and solving challenges, facing development teams. Now, Brant, what are some common challenges that you may face? Because this is quite a broad subject.

Brant Burnett: [00:15:27] Yeah. That is very abroad. I mean, some of the common challenges are honestly the things we've already talked about, the things like, you know, understanding direction and having the right tools. But I think there are some lower-level challenges. You know, what do you do to keep productivity up?

[00:15:41]Recognizing the appropriate amount of tech debt that you want to incur. I've been on both ends of the spectrum where you're in a situation where it's like tech debt is evil. Don't ever incur a tech debt. And I've also been on the other end where it's. You don't have time to work on that.

[00:15:57] Just keep delivering this product, these product goals, or just keep them as fast as you can. And frankly, I think both are wrong, you know, so figured out that right. Middle ground is a big challenge. 

Amy Tom: [00:16:08] Right. And Matt, I think that the key wording here is identifying and solving challenges. Right? So what are your thoughts on why that became such a big piece of the survey?

Matt Groves: [00:16:23] Yeah. And then again, I think it's because there's two words here identifying and solving. I think developers generally speaking, once they identify a problem, especially a technical problem, that they're extremely good at solving them. And that's, I think that's why the developers in the first place, but I think the identifying parts, especially when it comes to being a team lead or decision-maker, you know, this is where you got to be really careful because.

[00:16:49] You know, you may have some bias or some idea of what the problem is, but there may be a huge blind spot, a huge elephant in the room that you don't want to see, or you're just not aware of. And so you need to be able to, again, trust in your teams. If they come forward and say, this is a real problem. This is why, you know,  we can't be as productive. Even if that goes against your bias or what conclusions you may have drawn on your own. You need to be open to that sort of external feedback and say, okay, well maybe their rights maybe I'm wrong and their rights, that sort of thing. So identifying, I think is the key there.

Amy Tom: [00:17:24] Yeah. What you're talking about is confirmation bias, which is the bias around processing information, the way you want to process it, regardless of the facts or what's actually presented to you. So yeah, I think that's a big one eliminating biases to be able to identify and solve these problems is probably a big part of the 31% where the challenge lies in identifying and solving. Yeah, you're absolutely right. 

[00:17:53] So the other big piece of the survey that I was surprised to hear about is that 49% of organizations reported that developers were asked to do too much with too little time. Actually, you know, that doesn't really surprise me. I think a lot of people in a lot of organizations and a lot of teams are asked to do too much with too little time, but Brant does this echo your experience?

Brant Burnett: [00:18:18] I think that's the basic complaint of all developers everywhere is being asked for too much or too little time. Because you know, if you're getting more done than vantage, what's going to then come to you with the next thing. And it's, you know, I think it's, to me it's all about, you know, pushing people to be as productive as they can without pushing them too.

Amy Tom: [00:18:37] Right.  okay. Matt, do you think that this is a problem of IT staffing? 

Matt Groves: [00:18:44] That's a really good question. So I actually, I was going to say that the, that number there in the survey, that kind of seems low to me. I like, I agree with brand this is definitely one of the things, you know, developers and developer teams get asked to do too much in too little time or at least it's perceived that way.

[00:18:58] Right. Is it a problem with staffing? I mean, that. That can sometimes depend, right. You know, if you, there's a book called the mythical, Man-Month a famous book about management of projects before it was an official discipline. Right. And just adding people to a team isn't always going to improve improve throughput or improve you know, what can get done, right?

[00:19:19] Because that can just adding one person to the team, transforms it into a brand new team. So there's lots of things to deal with there, you know, one of the, one of the findings we'll see, later in the survey, maybe this is what you're leading up to is that, you know, actually the survey shows that seems to be teams are growing this year on average, or at least in the year, this will serve it for on average.

[00:19:41] So that may not be the issue may not be the underlying issue. It may be a lots of other things. You know, oftentimes I've been on places. I've been on scenes where I'm like we are. Severely understaffed, and we need more help here. But I think that needs to be, you know, needs to be looked at carefully.

[00:19:56]Is that really going to solve the issue? Is it just a matter of, you know, I don't have enough time or is it a matter of prioritization and are we spending time on things that aren't giving us the value  that they should? 

Amy Tom: [00:20:08] What do you think the problem is? 

Matt Groves: [00:20:11] Yeah. I mean, I could talk about that for my own team, for my own experiences, but I think in general it's you know, it's not always one or the other.

[00:20:19] I think sometimes you may be understaffed. Developers made, you know, if it's like a small team and they're asking, you know, if it's a team of three people and they're asking me to work on four or five projects, that's clearly asking too much from your staff. Right. But if it's a situation where we're asking you to do one project, but we're also asking you to.

[00:20:39] So bare the operational work for 10 other projects that have already been completed, then that's a matter of, well, we're not prioritizing correctly. These systems aren't efficient, or they have problems in them. And a lot of the technical debt that Brent was talking about that, you know, we're paying interest on.

[00:20:56] We're paying very high interest rates on the technical debt.

Amy Tom: [00:20:59] Right. And you mentioned that you thought that the 49% was low. Now I know that Couchbase has done surveys like this in the past. Is this a statistic that was reported on it pre in previous years? 

Matt Groves: [00:21:11] You know, it I probably was, I don't have those in front of me, so I couldn't tell you if that is lower or higher than previous years.

Amy Tom: [00:21:18] Yeah, that would be interesting to know. 

Matt Groves: [00:21:19] Like I said, this is exceptionally rare anyway, so I don't know if it's really going to be very useful. 

Amy Tom: [00:21:23] Yeah. Everything has very much changed this year. And speaking of with COVID, do you feel that technology has prepared you Brant for the new changes that happened last year with COVID? 

Brant Burnett: [00:21:38] Technology in general? Definitely. I mean Center Edge we were already a semi remote company in the first place it was amazingly easy for us to transition to fully remote and it's actually gone very well for us. Own the other side of, with our customers. You know, we have online presence for them stores where they can buy their tickets and things like that.

[00:21:59]And the fact that we had those in place in the cloud ready to scale up was a big benefit because while many of our customers were closed for extended periods of time the ones that did remain open or that have reopened if seen. Drastic spice in their year, over year, online purchase volume.

[00:22:15]So it was very easy for us to scale up our infrastructure to be able to handle that. 

Amy Tom: [00:22:20] Right. And you also mentioned that center edge has a sort of reliance, not reliance, but involvement in cloud adoption. How do you think that the pandemic has affected cloud adoption?

Brant Burnett: [00:22:34] I don't have any hard numbers on it, but I would suspect that it has really driven cloud adoption because one of the big benefits of the cloud is the ability to develop new things and scale up things very quickly. And I think what many companies found themselves doing was taking the digital transformation that many of them were already undergoing slowly.

[00:22:54]And they suddenly had to do it very quickly. And you don't exactly have time to call up a company in order servers that are going to in three months when you need to scale up. So what are you gonna do? You're gonna find a cloud provider.

Amy Tom: [00:23:06] Right. And I think with cloud, like the, with the migration to the cloud, that must have been very challenging as well. Did you at Couchbase have to experience any of that or were you already mostly cloud-based. 

Matt Groves: [00:23:20] That's I mean, that's interesting question. So Couchbase is, I mean, we are a product company. We make software products, right? We make a product that we consider it to be very cloud friendly, right?

[00:23:31]It's a Couchbase servers, our flagship product. It can be deployed. Anywhere really it can be deployed in those data centers. Like Brant was talking about that you have the actual servers you manage, it can be deployed in a public cloud or private cloud Kubernetes cluster yeah, fully hybrid.

[00:23:47] And that's a huge place for us as well, because if you have a data center in your building and you have a data center in the cloud and you want them to be in sync for disaster recovery or whatever reason. It's absolutely something that Couchbase is very good at. So we've been very cloud-friendly since the beginning.

[00:24:02]But one thing we've actually done is in the last just about over a year ago, in fact, I think we announced it is that we introduced something called Couchbase cloud and that's a fully managed. Database is a service DBS offering of Couchbase server. And so you can. Now just lean on Couchbase the expert management of Couchbase to manage those clusters for you, not have to manage the infrastructure yourself.

[00:24:25] So it's kind of like a software as a service level of of cloud. So you can, you don't have to focus much on the as much on the the infrastructure management, things like that. You can focus on just using Couchbase to create value for your customers. But, I mean, you can still use it as a hybrid with Couchbase club.

[00:24:41] You can still sync it to wherever cloud data center. You'd like to you know, East coast, West coast, Europe, if you have all three of those us, it says, for instance, you can sync them with each other. And counselor is cloud is kind of unique in that it actually runs inside of your your VPC, if you're on AWS or your v-neck, if you're on Azure.

[00:25:00] So you get full control, you can use all of your negotiated rates and discounts that you get through AWS and Azure, and you don't have to be locked in anything, you know, we're not just, it's not just us reselling you, Amazon it's, you know, we're putting a Couchbase and we're managing it inside of your own Amazon VPC or Microsoft as your vignette sort of thing.

[00:25:22] So you can actually have a multi-cloud strategy. So now you can take the hybrid a step further and say Amazon in the East Azure in the West, or vice versa, that sort of thing.

Amy Tom: [00:25:31] Okay. And just to understand further and get the terminology right. Is  Couchbase cloud private cloud or public cloud.

Matt Groves: [00:25:39] So Couchbase cloud. It can right now run inside of Amazon, AWS, or Microsoft Azure. So it's public cloud in that sense but, but it's uh, if you, you know, if you have a VPC in Amazon, it runs inside of your VPC there, or your VNet in Azure, right. So it runs in a public cloud, but it's you're you can see all the resources that are being created there.

[00:26:01] So you have, you know, operational transparency. 

Amy Tom: [00:26:05] Oh, okay. Nice. Perfect. Okay. And  one last point that I want to talk about going back to the developer survey, the tech lead survey is that we talk about this like a 20 20 and how interesting of a year it was. And I think that one of the interesting pieces is that a lot of people got laid off in 2020 and huge layoffs that happened. But as we alluded to the developer teams actually grew by 20%, according to the survey. So does this coincide, what your firm does this coincide with? What you're seeing from the developer standpoint, Matt? 

Matt Groves: [00:26:43] Yeah, I mean, w the 20% increase. We gotta be careful there because this is an average and you can hide a lot of stuff behind an average, right? So I'm sure there's many teams out there who've been affected negatively and the year was tough. So this 20% is an aggregate figure. This, I want to make that clear. That's an important thing to to know it, it means that development teams are growing.

[00:27:02] It doesn't mean that all development teams are growing. Right. It doesn't mean that 2020 was a good year for development teams. It wasn't a really good year for anybody. Really but I think what might explain this growth is that. This is kind of the sort of thing that Brent was saying is that many teams that may be dealing with a lower consumer demand, as a travel company or a hospitality in person events company that looks something like that.

[00:27:25] They may be choosing to take this time as an opportunity to sharpen the saw, so to speak. Right. They might be asking if we can't. You know, we can't spend time on operations right now because they're shutdown or limited or whatever. Can we instead invest and improve and get ready for when those restrictions end or maybe paid on some technical debt.

[00:27:44] Right? So we switched from that legacy system. That's been dragging us down all these years and it's been expensive and difficult to maintain. So let's take the time to now. We don't have much operational pressure. Let's switch over to that. Let's re-skill and and train and sharpen the tools.

[00:27:58]And like Brant was saying, it might also represent a reprioritization where it's we've been putting off this big new project, right. Let's say we wanted we wanted to create an online commerce offering, but it's been in our backlog. We haven't had time for it or resources for it. Well, now it's super important to have that, so that suddenly that's moves to the front of the line.

[00:28:16]Or, you know, we've seen a Couchbase people that need to start supporting delivery or even curbside pickup, and those offer unique technical challenges. And you know, I event company that has had virtual events in their back backlog for years, let's say, well, suddenly the only events you really have are virtual events.

[00:28:34] So that becomes super important. So in the, in that case, the team might need to grow. And or that functionality might need to get prioritized to deal with those things. So I think we might be seeing some of that in that 20% average increase there. 

Amy Tom: [00:28:48] Right. And one of the big rises of 2020 is the rise of remote work, obviously. So do you think that part of that increase could be that people are hiring developers overseas?

Matt Groves: [00:29:02] I don't think we have any specific data about that in this survey. I suppose it's, I suppose it's possible. But I think it might also be that you know, I'm a huge proponent of remote work. I've been working remotely since 2009 or so 2010. And I wanna, I want to, again, I want to be careful here because this isn't really how I wanted it to happen, but I think that the survey proves that working from home can absolutely be effective for dev teams.

[00:29:27] And I think leaders who might have doubted that before are seeing it happen now. And I wish it happened in a more positive way. But you know, w once you open up your potential, you know, Hiring pool to an entire country or entire continent. You can now be, you know, you can now get a whole different variety of people in different areas, different interests.

[00:29:49] And you know, you're not all fishing from the same, you know, local pond that you were before. So there may be some opportunity there to bring in some people with experience that you may not have be able to bring in before because they didn't live nearby. Right. So that may also affect it. We, you know, since we can now hire.

[00:30:04]People from, you know, two times over, we can hire great people from those time zones and just kind of related to that. I also work with a a, a local user group here a technology user group. And, you know, we can't meet in person right now which is lousy because it's one of the, one of my highlights of my month, but we can bring in speakers now from all over the country, all over the world, potentially.

[00:30:27] So again, that's kind of the same representation there of, well, w it's kind of a tradeoff. We can't, you know, meet in person, but we can bring in people from all over the place. And it's less of a cost to get them to do so it's kind of a similar thing where it's it's, it gives us a lot more possibilities and a lot more options in terms of hiring.

[00:30:45] So I, I just love work from home. I've always been advocating it. I wish it didn't happen this way, but I think that's a positive outcome. 

Amy Tom: [00:30:53] Me too, work from home is great. I love it. And I hope that it stays. And I think to your point, another great piece about being able to bring people in from multiple locations or across the country is the added diversity to your team, because maybe you have someone who comes from a different area that has a different way of thinking to bring to the table.

[00:31:15]And that. Is a great thing for your team because new ideas, new avenues, new paths to take that you maybe didn't and thought of in the past. So another great point. And Brant did your team happen to grow in 2020 or what is your experience with this? 

Brant Burnett: [00:31:32] No, our team didn't grow in 2020 just because of the nature of our industry. And but what we did do is some of the exact things that Matt mentioned. So for example, we focused on an effort to implement membership programs for our customers so that they could have recurring revenue as opposed to just walk up revenue w. So it's one of the things to help them coming out of the other side of COVID.

[00:31:54]And we also put in significant effort on tech debt. For example, we just very recently completed porting one of our cloud platforms as written on.net framework, running on windows to running on dotnet five, running on Linux and Kubernetes. And that was about a three-month project. But it, you know, it gave us the opportunity to do that.

[00:32:11] And now we're going to see significant cost savings and productivity increases as a result. So that's the sort of stuff that we've been doing. 

Amy Tom: [00:32:17] Right. Awesome. Okay. If Couchbase were to do this survey again in 2021, what do you think would change Matt? 

Matt Groves: [00:32:29] Well, I expect the trend of developers being asked to do too much in too little time to continue.

[00:32:33] As I mentioned, that's probably gonna continue forever, I think. But predictions will well predictions are tough. I mean, I don't think anyone who predicted anything about this year or about 2020 anyway is they're. They're not they're thrown for a loop. I think. But let's assume a positive outcome here at pandemic subsides.

[00:32:50]Who knows what else could happen this year? Maybe aliens land, who knows, but let's assume that a pandemic subsides and we start to get back to towards the direction of normal. What I hope I'd see in the industry is that even when dev teams can go back to commuting to the office, that they may choose not to.

[00:33:07]Working at home in the pandemic. And I can say this from experience. It's not the same as working at home in a normal environment normal year. Right. But I think there's many benefits to remote work. Like I keep flogging this. I just love remote work. But I think now tech leaders in dev teams are going to have to come to terms with those benefits, right?

[00:33:24] All the overhead that you think of as, you know, like things like traffic and commuting and all that time, you spend driving to the office and all the rent you're paying for the office or the lease, all that kind of stuff, the furniture, electricity, all that kind of stuff that kind of hardly seems worth it.

[00:33:41]Now when I'm just as productive as I think the survey shows. And when it could be spending that time in traffic, you know, in California, it could be two hours or more in traffic every day. I could spend that time with my family instead. And you know, this year has shown me that family is super important.

[00:33:57] So I would rather be at home with them or. You know, spending time with them then sitting in traffic, getting mad about, about traffic. So I'd hope to see that the trend of projects being on time or ahead of schedule as this show surveys shown continue at, even as some people, you know, for many people, it's just their second year.

[00:34:17]For me, it's not, but for many people, it's their second year going into working from home. And I think that's going to, that's something I hope to see from next survey. And the other thing I'd say is that as we see restrictions lifted and pendant pandemic suicides, that hopefully there's a huge unlocking of demand.

[00:34:30] A lot of pent up demand right now. I know. Personally, I have lots. I think that's going to just drive more growth in these industries and dev teams. And the ability to as Brad mentioned in his project, moving to Kubernetes specifically that's one way that you can help to scale reliably and efficiently.

[00:34:45]And that's an area where Couchbase server really shines is in providing a really easy and efficient, reliable way to scale out software. So that's where I'd hope to see. Things going in the results of 2021. 

Amy Tom: [00:34:58] Right. Not to mention the rise of meeting room tech that makes it super easy to have these hybrid meetings where half your team is remote and half your team is in the office.

[00:35:08] I think that's some of the cool stuff that's coming up too. So hopefully from what I hear you saying, potentially a. Continued increase in the rise of number of developers on the team. So Brant, what are your thoughts and predictions for 2021? 

Brant Burnett: [00:35:23] Well, it's kinda hard to follow Matt cause I mostly agree with everything he said.

[00:35:26]I think that. I agree. I think especially amongst developers, I think we're going to see a continued adoption of remote work. I think because we are so technologically savvy and because we're doing everything on the computer anyway, it makes us particularly suited to being remote workers, perhaps more so than many others.

[00:35:43]I know that you know, my wife worked remotely for quite some time. She's not a developer, but now she's back in the office half time already. And I'm afraid that, you know, some other industries are going to be a little more laggard in adopting the remote work, as opposed to developers. I personally doubt that the development team size will continue to grow at the same pace it did last year.

[00:36:01] I think last year gave it a big bump because of COVID-19. But I do anticipate that continued growth and development as Companies continue that with their digital transformation and continue migrating to the cloud. I think that more and more companies that thought of technology is only something for the back office.

[00:36:19] They're going to run their point of sale and their reports and their accounting, old computers, but they didn't need computers or interacting with their customers. I think that time has Dom. I mean, now you order fast food on an app now it's a very different time than it used to be. 

Amy Tom: [00:36:31] Right. Okay. So what you're saying is less hiring of developers, but more development increasing the number increasing that 49% of developers being asked to do too much and too little. 

Brant Burnett: [00:36:46] Yeah quite possibly. I do think the teams will continue to grow. I just don't think as soon as I grow at the 20% rate it did last year.

Amy Tom: [00:36:51] Okay. Okay. Well hopefully we will see a decrease in that number then. So that developers can be maybe be a little bit more relaxed going into 2021. Not having to do too much with too little time. 

Brant Burnett: [00:37:07] Let's hope so. I would personally appreciate that. I know that. 

Amy Tom: Yeah.Me too. All right. 

[00:37:12] Well, thank you guys so much for joining the podcast.

[00:37:15] I really appreciate your time, Matt. If we want to find you and Couchbase, where can we look? 

Matt Groves: [00:37:21] Yeah. If you're interested in the Couchbase cloud offering, I just say couchbase.com/cloud. Go check that out there. You can find me on Twitter, M Groves I'm there. I'm also on LinkedIn, Matthew Grove.

Amy Tom: [00:37:32] Perfect. And Brant, where can we find you and Center Edge? 

Brant Burnett: [00:37:36] Center Edge is online at centeredgesoftware.com. And you can find me online on Twitter at B T B U R N E T 3. 

Amy Tom: [00:37:45] Awesome. Okay. Thank you so much, guys.

Matt Groves: [00:37:47] Thank you, Amy. 

Amy Tom: [00:37:49] And END

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