A golden goose

The hidden potential of developers: Bringing billions to businesses

Sarah Schlothauer
© Shutterstock / Sira Anamwong  

A new survey released by Stripe raises some questions and concerns about the relationship between C-level executives and developers. However, one fact is certain: developers are powerful. If your company wishes to succeed, it needs it be good to its developers.

When we think of important resources, maybe the first images that spring to mind are material things: diamonds, natural gas, coal. Or, perhaps if you work in corporate you think of capital. However, there’s a third important resource: the developer. Developer’s and their code may finally be getting the recognition that they deserve.

A new report boldly states that, “Access to developers is a bigger constraint than access to capital.”

The study

“The Developer Coefficient: a $300B opportunity for businesses” is a study released by Stripe in September 2018 after partnering with Harris Poll. C-level executives (chief-level executives, including the CEO, CIO, and COO) and developers were polled about business constraints. The main mantra of the study is that developers are stunningly helpful to companies’ bottom line. (Does this come as a surprise to any developer, however, or is it a case of “I told you so”?)

It’s no secret that as the world becomes increasingly dependent on technology, the role of developers becomes more and more crucial to the economy’s growth.  With an estimated 18 million developers in the world, this is a powerful force with a ton of hidden energy.

Developers act as force-multipliers, and if used effectively, have the collective potential to raise global GDP by $3 trillion over the next ten years.

The Developer Coefficient

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Burden of bad code

Where is some of this mythical lost money lost and how can it be recaptured? Stripe concludes that “‘Bad code’ costs companies $85 billion annually”.

The average developer spends more than 17 hours a week dealing with maintenance issues, such as debugging and refactoring. In addition, they spend approximately four hours a week on “bad code”, which equates to nearly $85 billion worldwide in opportunity cost lost annually.”

The Developer Coefficient

An alarm bell might be ringing in your head right now. Debugging is wasted capital? On the contrary, debugging is necessary. Likewise, if done properly, it saves time now as opposed to expanding into a larger problem later.

Yet, C-level executives are begging for developers to raise the bar and use their time more effectively. Above all, 96% of surveyed executives said it was a high or medium priority for developers to increase their productivity. 59% of executives agreed with the statement “The amount of time developers at my company spend on bad code is excessive”.

How do we combat bad code? The answer is not to skip debugging or refactoring. These are vital steps of code writing and tossing them out would be foolish.

Developers speak their mind

Finally, let’s turn to the developers and what they want out of their executives.

  • Burnt out? 81% of developers reported that work overload has negative impact on their morale. Time and time again, burn out rears its head as one of the most challenging aspects of being a developer, and it’s high time that executives take this into consideration when asking for even more productivity.
  • Code takes time. 79% of developers stated that they are not given sufficient time to fix poor quality code.
  • Legacy systems hinder progress and creates technical debt. 78% of developers responded that they spend too much time on legacy systems and this has impact on their work.
  • AI is the future. 41% of developers answered that AI is having the greatest impact on their company in a decade. Following AI, developers also identified IoT, virtual assistants, and machine learning as the top trends.
  • Blockchain or bust? While 20% of executives said that blockchain will have the biggest impact on their company, zero percent of developers agreed. On the flip side, zero percent of executives thought that machine learning was the largest tech trend.

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Seeing eye to eye?

It doesn’t look like the wishes of executives and developers match one-to-one. Developers want different environments. They want less burn out, less technical debt, and more time to perfect their code. Executives, on the other hand, want more productivity.

What is holding companies back? The developers had some answers:

44% reported that the company is too slow to react to tech trends, 42% reported that they do not have enough skilled employees, 36% responded that leadership does not prioritize technology, and another 36% responded that the company is too focused on quarterly or annual gains to prioritize long-term growth.

Want a piece of that untapped billion dollar market? Executives, take note of what developers need. Their potential is unmatched and can increase a company’s value if they given the right tools, the right teams, and the correct amount of time.

Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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