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Research Studies Show: AI Coding Assistants Can Improve Developer Productivity

Research Studies Show: AI Coding Assistants Can Improve Developer Productivity

Software engineering teams are using AI in their development processes. In the 9th annual Global DevSecOps Report from GitLab, 83% of those surveyed said that implementing AI in their software development processes is essential. In its Hype Cycle for Software Engineering, 2023, Gartner predicts that 50% of enterprise software engineers will use machine learning-powered coding tools by 2027. 

Independent studies have shown that developers using AI coding assistants can experience productivity increases of up to 45%. This is measured by comparing the speed and efficiency of tasks such as code generation, code review, and documentation when AI tools are used versus traditional methods.

I recently reviewed a white paper from Tabnine titled "Measuring the Impact of AI Coding Assistants." The paper listed a number of research reports that detail how developers using AI tools can improve their productivity. This reinforces the choice of Tabnine as our preferred IDE plugin for code completion, particularly due to its robust security and compliance posture.

 

 

McKinsey: AI Assistants Accelerate Coding Tasks

A McKinsey study showed that developers using AI tools performed coding tasks like code generation, refactoring, and documentation 20%-50% faster on average compared to those not using AI tools. This study effectively measures the time taken to complete specific tasks, offering a direct measurement of productivity improvement.

The benefits of AI in coding extend beyond time savings. The McKinsey report notes that developers using AI tools report higher job satisfaction, as these tools relieve them from repetitive tasks and allow more time for engaging and fulfilling work. This improvement in job satisfaction can lead to better employee retention and a more motivated workforce​.

AI tools also equip developers to tackle new challenges more effectively. When faced with unfamiliar codebases or languages, developers can use AI assistants to quickly get up to speed and perform tasks that would typically require more time or the help of a colleague. 

AI can synthesize information, provide step-by-step guides, and even explain new concepts, making developers 25-30% more likely to complete complex tasks within the given deadlines compared to those not using AI tools, according to McKinsey.

«AI can synthesize information, provide step-by-step guides, and even explain new concepts»

 

Harvard Business School on Productivity Improvements

A research paper from Harvard Business School titled "Navigating the Jagged Technological Frontier: Field Experimental Evidence of the Effects of AI on Knowledge Worker Productivity and Quality" found that AI-assisted tasks led to a 17%-43% productivity improvement among knowledge workers, including developers. 

The study was conducted in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group and examined the performance implications of AI on realistic, complex, and knowledge-intensive tasks. Researchers measured task completion rates and the speed of task execution under different conditions, with and without AI assistance.

The study also explores the organizational impacts of AI, noting that AI coding assistants not only streamline operations but also enhance the adaptability of software solutions to meet specific business needs. This capability is critical in the fast-paced tech industry, where understanding and responding to market demands in a timely manner provides a competitive advantage.

 

Carnegie Mellon: AI Assistants Help Accelerate the Coding Process

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University published a paper titled "A Large-Scale Survey on the Usability of AI Programming Assistants: Successes and Challenges." They studied the usability of AI programming assistants like GitHub Copilot and provided strong evidence of how these tools enhance developer productivity. According to the study, developers who integrate AI programming assistants into their workflow report that a significant portion of their code—over 30%—is written with the help of these tools. 

This not only accelerates the coding process, but also aids in completing programming tasks more quickly. The ability of these AI tools to reduce mundane tasks allows developers to focus on more complex and creative aspects of software development, enhancing both productivity and job satisfaction​​.

However, the study also highlights some challenges and areas for improvement that could further increase the effectiveness of AI programming assistants. Despite the productivity gains, developers sometimes face difficulties with these tools, especially when the generated code does not meet specific functional or non-functional requirements, or when the tool generates code that is hard to understand or integrate into existing projects. 

Addressing these issues by improving the usability and functionality of AI programming assistants could lead to even greater enhancements in developer productivity and broader adoption of these tools​​.

 

Conclusion

AI coding assistants can enhance team productivity, improve code quality, and maintain competitive advantage. However, it is crucial to carefully plan and consider their adoption across your software development teams.

Leaders should evaluate the specific needs of their teams and choose AI tools that align with those needs. Starting with a pilot project to measure the impact allows for adjustments based on real-world use. 

As leaders in leveraging AI tools in software development, Forte Group aims to not only adopt these technologies but also to set an example in the industry. By integrating advanced AI coding assistants like Tabnine, we demonstrate our commitment to innovation and excellence in our development processes.

Leverage 20+ years of engineering excellence to transform your business challenges into competitive advantages. Our custom AI solutions, from predictive analytics to intelligent automation, are designed to accelerate time to market and drive growth, all while optimizing your technology expenses.

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