The Henry Nicholas team caught up with Jonathan Brook, Head of Software Engineering for the UK’s leading provider of land and property search information Landmark Information Group to find out how software development has evolved and what its future might hold.
How have you seen the software development landscape change in recent years?
When I started working in software development over 23 years ago, it was a niche sector; no one could anticipate how much things would change. The biggest shift has been in the last five years following the rise of cloud services (AWS, Azure and then Google). Since then, the mindset has switched from being purely focused on technologies to a much more business-outcome approach. The cloud environment helped this significantly because many tasks that we used to do, creating invoice and authentication systems etc., now are off the shelf Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. It means we’re able to shift our focus from operational tasks to always thinking about competitive advantage.
What talent are you looking for right now?
At Landmark, we require engineers who not only understand the basics but who are ready to take on any challenge. It’s about much more than Java or .Net developers nowadays, we need professionals who are willing to use multiple languages in multiple cloud environments. Open source components are now prevalent in all software that is produced by software engineering teams and all our engineers should be prepared to embrace and contribute to open source projects. From a Landmark perspective we see real positives from our staff doing this, not only because it gives them professional development but it is a great recruitment tool for us when trying to attracting great candidates.
What advice do you have for those considering a career in development?
Graduates need to leave university with confidence. Landmark’s graduates are hungry to succeed, nimble and fast learners with many quickly becoming as good as our senior staff in a short space of time. I advise learning multiple languages across multiple environments where you can. Today’s professionals need to have a genuine love for tech and be ready to take on new challenges so they can continue to develop.
What are your predictions for the future of development?
On top of the continued evolution of agile companies there are two key areas changing at the moment:
Artificial Intelligence (AI). If you’re not in cloud environments and using AI technologies, you can’t compete. AI should be in everything that you do and ingrained in all of your products and services. It’s about future-proofing your business, with image processing, language processing and bots playing a considerable part in this. The ethical challenge comes with ensuring these AI tools remove tasks without removing people, so staff are free to focus on gaining a competitive advantage.
Security. Organisations need to protect themselves against data breaches and hacking in this post-GDPR world. There are great off-the-shelf tools, with SaaS for security products emerging all of the time, meaning your people don’t need to know how everything works, but rather how to assess risk. This is an especially important area due to an ongoing shift that sees engineers being accountable for the code they bring live and its security.
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