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October 11, 2016

AI Platform Targets Coder Shortage

As the skills gap widens for software developers, machine-learning specialists are stepping in with collaboration platforms designed to streamline time-consuming tasks such as tracking down technical solutions when working with new technologies.

Collokia, a New York-based startup, announced the beta launch of a machine-learning platform last month that uses artificial intelligence to promote greater collaboration in software development. The other goal is reducing the “technical debt” of development teams by using AI to track down relevant information about a technology project, including information that already resides in company systems. The platform edits and updates search results as a way to disseminate information more widely among development teams.

Automation tools that leverage AI promise to address the growing shortfall of qualified software engineers. For example, industry watchers estimate that only about 400,000 trained software developers will be available to fill an estimated 1.4 million big data and IT jobs over the next decade.

Hence, startups like Collokia have been springing up to address the software development skills gap. “We know how increased knowledge sharing with one’s colleagues can result in more effective project management, especially amongst software developers,” Pablo Brenner, co-founder and CEO of Collokia, said in announcing the beta launch of the collaborative machine-learning platform. A commercial launch in planned over the next several months, Brenner added.

Part of the problem with existing collaboration platforms, the startup argues, are cumbersome tools for sharing information that place an additional burden on overburdened teams. Collokia said its platform uses knowledge mapping, collection and distribution techniques to speed the process of tracking down information already residing in systems. It then allows teams to update and edit search results so that software documentation is maintained.

The startup further claims that its search algorithms running in the background can collect data about the information sources such as coding libraries used by development teams. The resulting patterns help pinpoint specific skills and interests. That capability is touted as helping companies identify software engineers possessing specific skills.

The startup also argues that context and relevancy are critical to collaborative software development. Hence, its AI platform seeks to place internal content into the context of a development project to speed the transfer of knowledge. For example, the platform is designed to highlight relevant information within a company database and disseminate it across development teams.

Brenner, Collokia’s co-founder, previously served as vice president of innovation at Globant (NYSE: GLOB), the IT and software development specialist based in Buenos Aries, Argentina. Globant and a Brazilian venture capital fund are backing the AI startup, which began platform development in 2014.

Whether technology solutions such as Collikia’s platform are enough to bridge the software coding gap remains to be seen. But with the lack of engineering talent growing, AI startups may find a niche as a stopgap solution to a long-term problem.

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