IT developers and software engineers are wasting their time on maintenance and infrastructure issues in many UK companies, instead of contributing to strategy and growth projects.

Some 7 in 10 developers, according to research by Stripe, say that outdated technology systems are holding their businesses back.

The UK’s GDP might fall by £76bn over the next ten years because of poor use of IT developers’ time, said Stripe.

Iain McDougall, Stripe’s UK Manager, said:

“Barriers do currently exist in many businesses to how much time and freedom IT leaders and developers have to innovate in the face of aging infrastructure and a shrinking talent pool.”

Tech talent shortage a bigger problem than lack of capital

Lack of tech talent is one problem, with leaders citing access to developer talent as a bigger constraint in their businesses’ growth than access to capital.

In fact, the UK has suffered the sharpest drop in developer talent post-Brexit, with 68% of companies saying they have difficult in hiring developers, says Stripe.

Developer teams at UK businesses have shrunk by nearly a quarter in the last five years, so now the USA has four times as many software engineers in their businesses.

IT developers are “the most important people in the building”

Mr McDougall said:

“The role of technology within an organisation has changed significantly, going from a nice-to-have to now being a business-critical function. With 77% of UK businesses now considering themselves a technology company—no matter what industry they are in—developers have undeniably become some of the most important people in the building for any business.”

Another problem is that decision makers in companies need to be technologically aware enough to listen to their developers.

Some 75% of developers say that their companies’ leadership benches should place more weight on developer input when making strategic decisions.

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Abroad, nearly half of developers say they have a good level of influence in companies where there is tech leadership in the form of a CTO or CIO.

In the UK, only 37% of developers say they have a good influence in companies with that leadership.

Half of leaders make mistakes because they lack developer input

The implication is that the strategic importance of tech focused staff is not being recognised here and 55% of business leaders believe they have made important strategic mistakes because of a lack of developer input.

Stripe’s UK Manager said:

“As organisational barriers to developer empowerment slowly erode, and more developers begin to get a seat at the executive table, innovation and digitisation will become business as usual, and the UK will begin to reap the benefits of some of the €2.5 trillion gains that have been forecast as a result of digitisation across Europe.”