Nearshore Americas

Q&A: Bringing Generative AI to the Coding Factories

Artificial intelligence (AI) promises to revolutionize workflows in most industries, with software development being one of the activities in which the technology’s prospects are already taking shape. 

Faced with the threat of labor shortages, coding factories have spent the past couple years experimenting with low-code and no-code solutions. These allow their developers to be more efficient and permit workers with less coding expertise to jump into the fray. The explosive arrival of generative AI applications to the mainstream adds another tool to the kit; one which splashed into the scene, with a lot of hype behind it.

In this Q&A, NSAM spoke with Hadi Chami, Developer Support Manager at LEAD Technologies, developer and publisher of LEADTOOLS. Hadi is an observer of efficiency in software development and has kept an eye fixed on G-AI’s passage through the industry

During our interview, he shared his views on how the latest developments in AI will affect programming and software development, what that means for the tech labor market and how smaller companies can leverage the power of the technology to level the playing field.

NSAM: Low-code platforms promise to alleviate part of the pressures brought by talent shortages. With code-generating AI tools thrown into the mix, that promise seems closer to a reality. What will the arrival of AI mean for the IT labor market? Will we see decreases in salaries, layoffs?

Hadi Chami: AI and low-code platforms aren’t replacing IT professionals, but rather changing the nature of the work they do.

Hadi Chami, Developer Support Manager at LEAD Technologies

The arrival of these technologies doesn’t mean a decrease in demand for IT professionals. Instead, it’s changing the nature of the demand. There’s a growing need for IT professionals who understand how to use these tools effectively, how to implement them and how to integrate them into existing systems. This opens up a whole new world of opportunities for IT professionals to upskill and reskill, potentially leading to increased salaries and job stability. 

So, rather than causing layoffs or salary decreases, AI is creating new opportunities and roles within the IT industry.

NSAM: With AI making ways into dev teams, do you see any changes in the trends for the demand of software developers? If so, which changes do you expect to see?

Hadi Chami: As AI integrates more into dev teams, we can expect a shift in demand towards developers with a strong understanding of AI and machine learning principles, as well as those able to work effectively with AI-enhanced tools. 

Developers will need to adapt to a new paradigm where AI is a collaborator in the coding process, which could lead to more emphasis on skills like system design and architecture, problem-solving and data analytics.

NSAM: You stated in a Built In article that AI will help smaller dev teams scale operations. What will it mean for bigger teams in large companies, where scale might not be such a problem?

Hadi Chami: In my previous statement about AI helping smaller dev teams scale operations, I was referring to the ability of AI tools to automate certain development tasks, allowing smaller teams to accomplish more with limited resources.

For larger teams in large companies, where scale might not be as much of a problem, the benefits of AI can still be substantial.

AI can enhance collaboration, improve code quality through automated testing and analysis and enable faster development cycles. It can also provide valuable insights from large amounts of data, enabling data-driven decision-making and enhancing overall team efficiency.

Rather than causing layoffs or salary decreases, AI is creating new opportunities and roles within the IT industry

NSAM: AI-produced code will still require human oversight. What skills will be required from these overseers?

Hadi Chami: The overseers of AI-produced code will need a mix of technical and soft skills.

On the technical side, they’ll need a strong understanding of coding principles and practices, as well as knowledge about AI and machine learning. They should be proficient in interpreting and debugging AI-generated code, as well as understanding how the AI they are using works and what prompts to use in order to utilize the AI most effectively. 

On the soft skills side, critical thinking and problem-solving skills will be crucial to evaluate the AI output and provide meaningful feedback. Communication skills will also be key, as these individuals will often be liaising between the technical team and other stakeholders.

NSAM: A lot of software development is being sent offshore to relieve pressures caused by talent gaps. Will AI make offshoring less of a need for software development?

Hadi Chami: The need for skilled programmers is always going to exist, no matter what the hype about AI says. And while offshoring is often framed as a way to cheaply solve the very real shortage of talented programmers, I’d be careful not to suggest that offshoring is purely a low cost play. We’ve hired highly talented programmers both domestically and from other countries, as all the tools necessary to become a skilled programmer have been utilized worldwide, including low-code solutions like LEADTOOLS SDKs.

It will be interesting to see how the increased use of AI spreads worldwide and whether or not it happens evenly throughout the globe. Obviously, governmental regulations are a big part of this equation in particular countries, with China being one large spot where regulations are already happening. 

NSAM: In the Built In article you mention that less experienced devs will be able to build solutions quickly with AI. Can we expect a change in the nature of entry and junior level jobs in software development once AI takes hold among dev teams?

Hadi Chami: I think that there is a good chance that the entry and junior level devs in the coming years will enter the job market already with AI-assisted skills, meaning that they will already be taking advantage of today’s advancements in the area. 

As far as a change in those levels of jobs, we could definitely see the application of AI skills, whether that be through code writing or monitoring of AI-production, as a new prerequisite.

While we’re seeing increased democratization [of software development through AI], I wouldn’t say it’s a complete ‘free-for-all’ yet

But the basic nature of being a programmer, with a keen eye for detail, problem-solving, and a wide knowledge base of coding languages, will continue to be stable.

NSAM: With AI inserted into the mix, expectations for the “democratization” of coding  to happen soon are higher than ever. Do you believe that the democratization of programming will happen with AI? Or is that a bit of a pipedream?

Hadi Chami: The democratization of programming is definitely becoming more of a reality with the advent of AI, low-code and no-code platforms. These technologies are lowering the barriers to entry for programming by simplifying complex tasks and automating repetitive ones.

However, while they make programming more accessible, there will still be a need for a deep understanding of coding principles, especially for more complex applications. 

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So, while we’re seeing increased democratization, I wouldn’t say it’s a complete “free-for-all” yet. It’s more about widening participation and creating more opportunities for people to engage with coding.

I would also hope that AI inspires more people to dive deeper into the subjects they care about, to learn more rapidly about ones they do not and to generally investigate the worlds around them in a new way. And if that leads to more and better programmers, I think we would all be happy.

Cesar Cantu

Cesar is the Managing Editor of Nearshore Americas. He's a journalist based in Mexico City, with experience covering foreign trade policy, agribusiness and the food industry in Mexico and Latin America.

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