5 minute read 13 Feb 2024
AI-augmented software development
EY Tech Trends series

Tech Trend 01: AI-augmented software development: A new era of efficiency and innovation

By Radhika Saigal

EY India Technology Consulting Partner

Radhika has over 20 years of experience across the BFSI and technology industries where she has led complex digital transformation programs driven by operational excellence and efficiency improvement.

5 minute read 13 Feb 2024

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Generative AI-assisted tools are enhancing productivity and innovation in software development.

In brief

  • GenAI tools analyze extensive data, including customer requests, market trends, and user feedback for software requirement planning.
  • GenAI tools like GitHub's Copilot and Jasper can significantly boost developer productivity by swiftly generating code.
  • AI is automating various aspects of the software development and delivery processes in DevOps.
  • Developers can also optimize their workload in cloud resources using GenAI. 

In May 2017, at NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference (GTC), its CEO Jensen Huang made a bold prediction: "Software is eating the world, but AI is eating software." This statement, inspired by Marc Andreessen's seminal essay "Why Software Is Eating the World," captured the essence of the transformative power of artificial intelligence (AI) in software development.

At the time, Huang's prediction may have seemed ambitious, as the transformative potential of transformer models, now integral to contemporary GenAI models, was undiscovered. Fast forward to 2023 and software development has witnessed a significant change, with generative tools playing an important role in addressing software quality issues, offering real-time code suggestions, automating various steps in the software development life cycle, thus validating Huang's prediction.

AI has long been streamlining routine software development tasks, from code review and bug detection to software testing and project optimization. These tools, often acting as spell- and grammar-checkers for code, have undoubtedly reduced the time and effort required for software development by minimizing keystrokes. At present, with the advent of GenAI, AI-augmented software development has ascended to new heights, creating more efficient and reliable software solutions that align with the contemporary requirements. GenAI tools, such as GitHub's Copilot, Microsoft’s Intellicode, and Jasper, are fundamentally changing the way developers approach software creation. These tools treat computer languages as natural languages, opening up new possibilities for software engineering. Over the next few years, GenAI is set to dominate software development, extending its influence, and reshaping of companies' digital transformation. Gartner predicts that by 2028, 75% of enterprise software engineers will use AI coding assistants, up from less than 10% in early 2023.

The impact of AI on software development will mainly reshape four key areas: requirement planning, enhancing developer productivity, DevOps and deployment, and workload optimization.

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Requirement planning: GenAI tools, exemplified by various applications, exhibit the capacity to analyze copious amounts of data, including customer requests, market trends, and user feedback. These tools can generate user stories based on requirements, propose ideas for prototype/application design, and outline high-level architecture diagrams. Additionally, they can recommend suitable technologies based on specified constraints, such as performance, scalability, security, and best practices.

Developer productivity: Code development marks the arena where GenAI is taking remarkable strides. There are platforms that are transforming the software creation process, treating computer languages as just another form of language. These tools draft code based on contextual cues from input code or natural language, enabling faster and smoother coding with reduced friction. Code generators are adept at swiftly producing code for routine tasks, saving developers a considerable amount of time, and allowing them to focus on more intricate tasks. By 2025, according to Gartner estimates, 80% of the software development life cycle will involve GenAI code generation, enhancing developer productivity up to 75% in various use cases.

DevOps: From automation of testing and deployment to resource management and security enhancement, AI is reshaping the current process. Leveraging historical code changes, GenAI identifies patterns, detects potential issues, and offers intelligent recommendations for automated testing and deployment, thereby streamlining the development pipeline. AI-integrated next-generation ChatOps (interaction systems to communicate with bots and perform instructions for deployment, monitoring, and incident response) will not only detect anomalies but also generate optimal solutions based on historical data and real-time insights.

Enterprise-grade machine learning applications, which took 6 to 12 months to deploy, can now be operational in a matter of weeks, significantly reducing development costs. GenAI tools that can also generate deployment scripts - currently in the pilot phase - will significantly reduce development time and costs. GenAI can also generate infrastructure as code scripts based on natural language queries for high-level infrastructure requirements and can generate workflow configuration files that can specify the settings and parameters of various applications.

Workload optimization: GenAI can excel in cloud resources workload optimization. By analyzing historical data and predicting resource needs, it generates actionable recommendations that optimize resource allocation, enhancing performance resources. The tools also recommend cost-cutting strategies like downsizing instances, adjusting auto-scaling, and utilizing reserved instances for optimal spending. Predictive AI allows the team to address potential issues before they impact the users, enhancing overall reliability. Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are now integrating GenAI capabilities to their existing set of services where operations can query large data sets or logs using natural language.

While GenAI and software development form a synergistic partnership, it is essential to recognize that AI cannot function autonomously. At present, AI draws its power from the data it processes, lacking the touch of human intelligence. Moreover, issues such as hallucinated responses and biased outputs underscore the need to address data privacy concerns. As regulations in this sector evolve, these challenges are expected to be mitigated.

Despite these challenges, the potential benefits of GenAI are undeniable. Through accelerated coding, automation, and performance optimization, AI can transform the software development industry, pushing the boundaries of innovation and efficiency.

As many tools have displayed, GenAI can transform key areas of software development and, the challenges notwithstanding, undeniably offer benefits such as higher efficiency and innovation. Enterprise software engineers are expected to increasingly adopt AI. The synergy between GenAI and software development is reshaping the industry, pushing boundaries, and driving digital transformation, even as the regulatory framework evolves.

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Generative AI (GenAI) tools are helping software development in several crucial areas. They enhance resource planning, boost developer productivity with fast code generation, automate DevOps, speed up deploying machine learning apps, and excel in workload optimization of cloud resources. AI-embedded tools let engineers spend less time coding, enabling them to focus more on higher-level tasks. Despite challenges like AI’s reliance on data, which may have bias and privacy concerns, GenAI is reshaping the industry, pushing boundaries, and driving digital transformation.

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About this article

By Radhika Saigal

EY India Technology Consulting Partner

Radhika has over 20 years of experience across the BFSI and technology industries where she has led complex digital transformation programs driven by operational excellence and efficiency improvement.