KCDC 2021 Headspring

Being back on the conference circuit for KCDC 2021 gave us all the feels: We were excited about connecting with our developer community, adamant about doing it safely, and so curious to hear what speakers and attendees had been thinking about. And as Titanium Sponsors this year, we felt glad to be able to support the KCDC community and contribute to the continued growth of this valuable event.

So what did we learn there? Inquiring minds wanted to know: What were the big trends and challenges this year? What’s been on people’s minds since 2019? To find out, we talked to loads of you at the conference, and even had our OK Human host, Patrick, on the ground with his “tiny mic” recording conversations with individual attendees.

Turns out, there were some repeat themes, and added challenges due to COVID-19. Here are a few of the high-level themes we came away with, as well as some related resources that could be valuable to you as you navigate some of these common challenges!

# 1: Organizations are STILL struggling with DevOps

DevOps was again a trending topic at KCDC, as organizations try to ramp up their quality, efficiency, and output, now in more dispersed environments. As consultants, we’ve observed this perennial challenge first-hand: Even the most DevOps-minded organizations will set everything up right, but end up frustrated when it doesn’t seem to stick.

That’s where we try to shift our clients’ approach by emphasizing one key idea: DevOps isn’t a role or a department; it’s not even a set of tools or processes, really. DevOps is all about culture. Embracing DevOps fully requires a culture change, and that change needs to be managed carefully to be sustainable. Since we have some experience with this, we wanted to create a succinct guide that helps organizations build the foundation for DevOps success. In case you missed the tactile version at KCDC, here’s the digital guide which lays out some actionable tactics for fostering a DevOps culture in your organization:


#2: Companies are ramping up their cloud approaches

It’s no surprise that “cloud” tops the list of trending topics this year. Cloud adoption has certainly accelerated due to the pandemic: Flexera’s State of The Cloud Report noted that Enterprise cloud use rose close to 50% following the onset of the coronavirus, and that 90% of enterprises expect their cloud usage to trump what they’d previously planned, due to COVID-19.

That means developers have to stay on their toes and level up their cloud acumen quickly. With the top vendors competing for market share, and multi/hybrid cloud solutions becoming popular, it behooves developers to know as much as the tools and technologies. Those we talked to at the conference seemed to be interested in specific cloud technologies and how to apply them to projects proficiently.

For KCDC-goers dealing in AWS, our resident Software Whisperer Garo Yerizarian hosted a crash course on how to set up a .NET serverless environment in AWS. Here’s a previously recorded presentation in which you can follow in code and with diagrams as Garo breaks down the anatomy of a serverless application in AWS:


#3: Hiring the right talent is a HUGE challenge

When we asked about the biggest challenges organizations are facing in 2021, almost across the board, we heard “hiring.” A lot of companies are finding themselves in the same boat, without enough developers, as the war on tech talent rages. At the beginning of 2021, a CodinGame’s survey showed that 61% of HR professionals thought that finding qualified developers would present their biggest recruitment challenge of 2021.

Seems their predictions came true.

This challenge mounts as companies double down on ambitious hiring goals while developers leverage their newfound flexibility (and perhaps the general aura of change) to pivot into new roles. Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trends Index found that over 40% of employees are considering making a job change, and this in-demand talent is being rightfully picky about their next moves!

That’s why it’s so important right now to focus on streamlining the recruitment process and improving the candidate experience. CodinGame’s survey found that:

  • 50% of developers most dislike being targeted with irrelevant job opportunities
  • 48% are frustrated by lack of feedback after attending interviews
  • 38% are put off by irrelevant technical interview questions and exercise

At Headspring, our conscientious People Team has been working diligently to improve the recruiting process both for applicants and for our internal reviewers. Here’s a clip of our Director of Talent, Erin Wortham, talking about some tactics we use to amplify the technical recruitment process. You can watch the entire webinar, which also includes our Director of Engineering Ryan Thomas, via DevSkiller!


This has certainly been another KCDC for the books! And while these were important high-level themes, they barely scratch the surface of all the wonderful individual conversations we had at the conference. Stay tuned for our special “Live at KCDC” episode of OK Human that will feature some cool humans and their personal anecdotes. And let’s make sure to keep the conversations going remotely (e.g., Tweet at us or look us up on LinkedIn).

Until next year!

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