Developer Skills in Demand–Now and in the Future

In today’s fast changing digital world, technologies seem to come and go in a heartbeat. Yesterday’s hot skill is tomorrow’s obsolete function.

A new study conducted by IT recruiting firm Dice, “What Are the Next Big Developer Skills,” sorted through current industry data and trends in order to identify the developer skills and capabilities that are most in demand now. It also examines the developer skills likely to be in demand within a few years.

While the latest data from Dice suggests that employers continue to seek software developers with expertise in well-established technologies such as .NET, C++, and HTML, the environment is changing rapidly. An examination of online search data between January 1 and April 15 of 2014 found that a number of skills and qualifications are bubbling to the top of the list. The top 10 are Java/J2EE, .NET, C++, C#, Senior, SQL, HTML, C, Web and Linux.

“Today’s biggest needs surround the core, but it will change as the next generation of technologies realizes their promise,” noted Shravan Goli, president of Dice.

Next-generation technologies will soon make a big impact. One of the major drivers, Dice reports, is the emergence of wearable electronics. Already, fitness bands and smart watches are popular in the consumer marketplace. Over the next decade, smart clothing and an array of devices such as smart glasses will further redefine the marketplace.

As these technologies take hold, organizations will require app developers capable of programming software for tiny screens and scaled-down interfaces. In some cases, these interfaces won’t include a screen. Instead, users will operate a device using speech controls or gestures.

“Wearable electronics could present some fascinating UI [user interface] puzzles for anyone willing to take them on,” states Dice blogger Nick Kolakowski. For example, he asks, “What’s the ideal icon for conveying to smart-bracelet wearers that they have 10 urgent emails waiting for them? Can you build a map for display on the inside of a sunglass lens that doesn’t distract a driver from the road?

“The tech pro capable of executing on such ideas (and many more) may profit immensely in this category.”

Another burgeoning area is the Internet of things. Manufacturers are expected to churn out more than 6 million connected devices in 2014, and the number will climb sharply over the next several years.

Consumer devices, embedded sensors and machine-to-machine communication will generate enormous streams of both structured and unstructured data. Organizations will require developers who can build the necessary code to operate the devices and sensors, along with programmers who can connect all the digital dots and put the analytics to work.

Finally, there’s the emerging field of drones and robots. The report notes that Google has acquired seven robotics firms over the last 12 months. And Facebook, Amazon and FedEx have all stated an interest in deploying commercial drones. In fact, as firms weave robots and drones into everyday life, new jobs involving robotic design and engineering—along with a need for sophisticated software systems—will emerge.

One thing is clear: The developer skills required by organizations are likely to be very different in less than a decade.