q Coding: the critical skill that drives the digital world - Business Reporter

Coding: the critical skill that drives the digital world

Computer coding has been transformed over the last two decades. To celebrate National Coding Week, Business Reporter talked to a number of experts to find out why coding is such a vital skill

Did you know that there are about 700 programming languages in the world? Around 17 years ago, C++ was the go-to coding language to learn. Now according to the TIOBE Index for September 2020, the top three most popular languages are currently C, Java and Python.

Over that time period, the world itself has drastically changed. This year alone has pushed organisations across every industry to their boundaries and beyond. It’s turned employees into remote workers, using platforms such as Zoom or Teams to communicate, and government lockdowns have enabled organisations such as Netflix to see a significant increase in demand. All this wouldn’t have been possible without people who have coding as part of their skill set.

Business Reporter spoke to five technology industry experts about National Coding Week and why coding is such an important skill to learn to address the ever growing digital skills gap.

It’s a data driven world

“If you didn’t realise how much businesses rely on software before the coronavirus pandemic started, you know now,” highlights Jeff Keyes, VP of Products at Plutora.

“With so many people working remotely, organisations are more dependent than ever on software that keeps the team on the same page and keeps the business operating smoothly. However, none of that can be accomplished without skilled development teams that are supported by strong and fluent coders. Just like a house needs a sturdy foundation upon which to build, an application also needs a solid foundation of well written code from developers.

“Every company–from a fresh-faced startup to a seasoned enterprise–must have a talented team of code writers who can meet the demands of the rapidly-evolving software industry and do so quickly and at scale. Coding has become the language of business, and organisations must be fluent in order to achieve success.”

Kevin Kline, Principal Program Manager at SentryOne agrees that data underpins so much of the work that businesses do across all industries: “Whether it’s a retail website collecting data from customers making a purchase, or the manufacturer producing these items that needs to keep track of resources coming in and products going out – data is behind it all. But the databases and applications that store and use this data don’t just appear out of thin air. An IT expert needs to start by coding the software for these, either tailoring it for a specific organisation, or developing a product to be sold on to customers as a third-party resource.

“Coding is behind our digital world, keeping all of our technology ticking over and enabling businesses to continue running, even throughout the depths of a pandemic. This Coding Week, it’s crucial to highlight the need for more coders to study the subject and enter the workforce, and this week is all about encouraging more people – whether students at school or adults looking for a career change – to see the importance of coding and consider it as their next big step.”

Speaking from her own experience, Elizabeth Brown, Professional Placement Student, Data Science at Mango Solutions explains why she decided to learn to code:

“I chose to do a work placement with Mango because in a world where data is abundant, it is vital that we stay data driven – and data science allows us to do this. I ultimately wanted a job in coding as I really enjoy it! Coding is an important skill to learn as we are constantly surrounded by computers and what they produce, and so being able to write code is a great advantage. The idea of coding and where to start with it can be daunting sometimes and so making it easier and more comfortable for people to start learning to code would help encourage the younger generation into it.”

Coding: a necessary skill for all

“I think there’s still a huge misconception that technical and digital skills are geared towards geeky male gamer-types, and aren’t ‘mainstream’,” stresses Raif Mehmet, VP EMEA at Bitglass. “Having worked in the IT industry for 20 plus years I see first-hand how important these skills are – and how in-demand they continue to be. The IT skills shortage isn’t going away anytime soon so initiatives like National Coding Week are vital to underline that coding is a skill-for-all and to highlight the vast array of potential jobs it can open up, from building websites to curing Covid.”

Jan van Vliet, VP & GM EMEA at Digital Guardian agrees: “Steve Jobs once famously said: ‘I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think. I view computer science as a liberal art.’

“Those who earn a liberal arts degree learn to formulate effective arguments, to communicate well and solve problems. So not only is coding a valuable skill in itself, it can be more broadly and positively applied to all walks of life and work. With huge degrees of uncertainty surrounding the economic outlook and employment landscape, initiatives like National Coding Week that encourage us to consider learning new skills and broadening our horizons can only be a good thing. It has my full support, and long may it continue and encourage more of us to learn to code.”

With data being at the forefront of everything we do or use on a daily basis, the world will only continue to push boundaries further in the digital landscape. It’s evident that coding is no longer just a ‘nice to have’ skill for those who enjoy tech. It has already become the centre of everything we need to function in our personal and professional lives, and learning to code is quickly becoming just as or even more important than learning a new language.

National Coding Week runs from 14 to 20 September 2020.

Main image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

© Business Reporter 2021

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