Let’s Talk Data: The State of Web Development

Come on a data journey with me as I share the latest results from our State of Web Development survey. In this talk, I'll use data to reveal attitudes towards trends like:

  • the shift from monolith to composable
  • opportunities in ecommerce
  • ML/AI’s value proposition

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Akia Obas

How's everyone doing today? Feeling good, I hope. Phil is having an awesome time, isn't he? He's awesome. Let's give a round of applause for Phil. So, I am super excited to be on stage today to talk about data in the state of web development. But before I dive in, let me tell you a bit about myself. As Phil mentioned, my name is Akia Obas, and I head up Data and Insights for Netlify. I've been working in data for quite a long time. My background, though, is actually in economics. I know, what do you do with an econ degree? That's what my parents said to me my freshman year when I decided to major in economics. I've heard all the econ jokes over the years, and to spice things up, I want to share my favorite joke with you today: "Economists have predicted 12 of the last two recessions." Come on, that's a good one.

Right, let's get to the point. What does all of this have to do with the state of web development? Well, if you've been keeping an eye on the news lately, there's a bit of economic uncertainty. Matt talked about it this morning. But the bright side to economic uncertainty is that businesses get hyper-focused on preserving revenue. For Netlify, that means helping our customers drive efficiencies while keeping up with the pace of business. That's what excites us about the state of web development.

In our survey data, we found that composable architecture is the only way to stay agile and ahead of the competition in a digital world. To dive deeper into the composable movement, we conducted a survey this year called the "State of Web Development." We received feedback from thousands of developers and 244 executives. Are executives excited about composable web development? Let's find out.

We asked, "Are executives ready to say goodbye to monolith architecture? Do they have opinions regarding the limitations of monolithic platforms?" Let's take a look at the data. In a multi-select question, we asked about the limitations of monolithic platforms. The most frequent answer is around flexibility, which we've heard repeatedly today. Monolithic systems don't provide that flexibility. The second most frequent answer is that monolithic platforms lock you into a vendor, and the third most frequent answer revolves around spending, meaning you may be wasting money.

What do these top 3 limitations mean? There's a common theme here. Monolithic systems make it hard for you to test potential new technology, technology that can offer efficiency gains, performance improvements, and price flexibility. So, do executives understand the limitations of monolithic systems? Do they understand the benefits of switching to a composable approach? The answer is yes. 64% of executives in our survey said they understand the benefits of going composable.

According to our survey, the number 1 reason executives are excited about the composable movement is that it gives their businesses faster time to market. Not surprising, right? They are also excited because it will improve their site performance and productivity. But what does faster time to market really mean? What do improved site performance and higher productivity translate into? Do we have any folks here in the e-commerce industry? If you are, these 3 reasons translate into a bigger business impact. A few points of conversion increase can significantly impact your bottom line. When you can ship changes faster, it impacts your bottom line.

What's even more interesting is that while executives understand the benefits of going composable, they have reasons for hesitating to take the leap into the composable world. So, what are these reasons? We asked in our survey, and here's what we found out. The most frequent answer from executives is that they don't know where to start, followed by the lack of technical talent. This will not add up to 100%, as it's a multi-select question. In third place, they don't have enough resources. So, what do these 3 reasons really add up to? What's the hold-up? Are people being held back by the size of the task, or do they need a greater incentive to move in the first place? Is it a combination of both, or is it just a common excuse?

The good news is that emerging technologies lower the barriers to entry into the composable web development world. So, we asked our survey respondents what they are using in terms of emerging technology and if they are satisfied with it. The data is really interesting. Let's take a look at some data with a pretty chart.

On the y-axis, we have satisfaction, and on the x-axis, we have usage. Look at machine learning and AI. High satisfaction, high usage. This surprised me, not about usage, but mainly about satisfaction. Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) are making their way into every aspect of our business. People are eager to use these technologies to automate workflows and improve their time to market. However, executives are not oblivious to the risks involved.

We asked in our survey, and here's what we found. The number 1 risk in using ML or AI, according to these executives, is the fear of getting the wrong answer. In machine learning, it's called overfitting or underfitting, and in AI, it's called hallucinations. We heard about AI hallucination earlier today. If you're not familiar, AI hallucination is when the model produces the wrong answer that appears reasonable. It will make things up, just like that confident person in a meeting who confidently states the wrong answer. AI is no different. What about security issues and data leaks? A study by Cyberhaven found that 11% of the data employees paste into ChatGPT is confidential. Any data you feed into an AI tool or application could be stored, accessed, or misused.

Despite the high usage and high satisfaction of ML and AI, executives are aware of the risks. Interesting findings there. Now, back to this beautiful graph. Let's take a look at low-code and no-code technology. It's the same chart: satisfaction on the y-axis, usage on the x-axis. What's happening with low-code and no-code? This one was a shocker to me too. High usage, but low satisfaction. Despite low-code technology revolutionizing the way we work, people just don't like it.

That's why we're excited about Netlify Create. It addresses some of the hesitations people have about moving to composable web development. Low-code and no-code technologies won't make you concerned about having the right technical talent or having enough resources. Netlify Create is set to change all of that.

If you haven't seen the results of our 2023 State of Web Development survey, these are the key findings I wanted to share with you today. We learned that not just teams, but executives, are also fed up with the limitations of monolithic platforms. Shifting to composable has tangible business benefits. However, there are challenges to making the jump. People are scared, don't know where to start, and may not have enough resources. We also learned that emerging technologies like ML and AI, low-code and no-code, will continue to impact our business. These are the findings from our survey, and I'm super excited about the state of web development and what it holds for all of us. Thank you, that's all for me.