Top Enterprise Tech Trends to Watch in the Year of “Developer Primacy”

Matt Carbonara

Head of Enterprise Tech Investing, Citi Ventures

At Citi Ventures, we are constantly on the lookout for the emerging trends driving the fintech and enterprise technology industries forward. Within enterprise tech, our team believes that “developer primacy” will guide significant innovation and growth in 2023: as software increasingly becomes the basis for competition between companies, we will see developers continue to rise as key enablers of competitive advantage. As a result, we predict, the tools and platforms that help developers work smarter and faster will gain greater market traction.

Here are three trends related to developer primacy that are likely to progress in 2023:

1. The importance of developer productivity tools

According to Statista, there will be more than 28 million software developers worldwide by 2024, and that number is only expected to grow. Still, the scope and pace of digital transformation in every industry, coupled with rising demand for important developer skills, has led some to worry about a “tech skills gap” that could impair an organization’s competitiveness and growth.

To overcome potential challenges in recruiting, retaining, and optimizing developer talent, we recommend that companies provide devs with tools that enable them to work faster and more efficiently. Developers today are becoming overwhelmed by demands to “shift left”—moving software testing, quality assurance, and performance evaluation earlier in the development process, often as code is being written or even before. They also struggle to obtain the right information at the right time in the right context in order to make the decisions they need to make.

Many tools to assist developers with these issues already exist, leveraging automation and cloud computing to improve the process of securing applications, developing containers, getting feedback on code, and more. While large companies such as Atlassian and GitLab have already been built in this market, there is every reason to believe that we are in the early days of this trend—especially now that companies can use generative AI and large language models to build solutions that help developers write code in the first place. Large enterprises would be well advised to stay abreast of the latest offerings in this space in order to ensure that they maintain competitive advantage in their industry as software continues to eat the world.

2. The emergence of new databases for building applications

Of course, providing developers with the right productivity tools isn’t the only thing enterprises need to do to help improve their efficiency—they also need to provide them with the right building blocks to create applications.

Key among those blocks is managing application data. To support that effort, enterprises across industries are adopting “fit-for-purpose” databases that are tailored to particular use cases, applications, or components of an application in order to solve a specific problem or set of problems. These include:

  • "Distributed" databases, which are spread across multiple data centers and communicate via a network, helping improve application performance and user experience by storing data physically closer to end-users.
  • “Time series” databases, which are optimized for tracking changes over time. These databases can allow for much faster data processing in Internet of Things (IoT) environments, helping companies monitor the status and performance of their server, storage, networks, and connected devices in order to guide preventative maintenance decisions and reduce the frequency and length of outages.
  • “Graph” databases, which follow the point-to-point structure of a graph to map out the connections between entities (represented as the graph’s vertices). Graph databases are ideal for determining the relationships between entities in large, complex datasets comprised of data from disparate sources and systems—making them especially useful for fraud protection and anti-money laundering efforts.

Many of the companies providing fit-for-purpose databases also offer database-as-a-service solutions. Rather than stand up and maintain their own servers, storage, and software, enterprises can leverage these service providers to host their data in the cloud—and to quickly scale up and down as needed. Large enterprises should explore leveraging these offerings to help reduce the complexity of developing new services.

3. The use of open-source in building applications—and its effects on security

Once upon a time, developers wrote all—or at least most—of their code in-house. Today, they often build products in large part by leveraging open-source code or platforms, which can be written or modified by anyone who uses them.

This approach offers many advantages, including lower costs, reduced iteration and development time, and more room to focus on key features and perfecting user experiences. As an aside, we see many companies taking an open-source-based go to market approach that allows developers to download and try their products in a frictionless way—reducing the need for and expense of traditional enterprise sales teams calling on the most senior IT executives in a potential customer organization.

However, the rise of open-source also greatly increases the importance of software supply chain security. When anyone can contribute to the code base, enterprise developers need more and better ways to interrogate the code they’re using, verify its lineage and provenance, and confirm that it wasn’t created by bad actors. Software bills of materials—itemized lists of components in applications—can help them do so, and other tools and services that help developers and security teams identify and fix important vulnerabilities will be in increasing demand in 2023 and beyond. While it behooves enterprises to leverage open-source liberally, in the current environment they need to ensure that they are taking the appropriate precautions to protect their overall software supply chain.

Looking back on 2022, it’s clear that software developers have never been more essential to the success of modern enterprises. Companies that recognize their primacy and invest in helping them do their jobs better—or that build solutions geared toward the same—will be well-positioned for future growth.

For more enterprise tech insights from Matt Carbonara, visit his Forbes Finance Council page.