To create a platform where world-class technology experts network, software house Dev2 recently hosted the crème del a crème of developers at its social evening in Durban – a city fast asserting itself as a hub for cutting edge software development. By Staff Writer

“This sector is fast-paced, the opportunities and challenges constantly accelerate. Durban boasts top talent and to see this number grow year on year proves that the city is grooming local talent at an impressive rate” said Dev2 director Wallis Buchan.

She added that when they began the social evenings in 2012, they attracted about 20 developers – a far cry from the over 90 who now gather to keep abreast of the ever-changing technology trends.

Software development has become core for every company. If you don’t believe this, simply ask any vehicle manufacturer who spends colossal amounts of time and resources annually improving their digital abilities because the future of the car is not the brand of the tyres or the number of cupholders.

It’s the software underneath, the technology powering services for the convenience of drivers and passengers. Similarly, mass retailers are now able to unify and improve their operations because of software and this is creating a connection between customer loyalty programmes (which collect shopping data) and the growing family of creative promotions. There are endless examples.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT – Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professional (MVP) and software developer Gordon Beeming, Developer and “Bot” expert Pivendren Naik, Microsoft Principal Technical Evangelist and MVP Brent Samodien, Dev2 Director Wallis Buchan and Richard Gevers, founder of Open Data Durban also an activist for good government.

To ensure South African developers are world-class, a regular meeting of the minds and exchange of thought across the country will be necessary. Tech heavyweights Microsoft Techical Evangalist Brent Samodien, Microsoft Most Valued Professional Gordon Beeming, chat bot expert Pivendren Naik and Open Data Durban founder Richard Gevers are sought after nationally for their insights yet – were accessible to attendees at the Dev2 Evening.

Together and informally, they delved into the minutia of cloud development, artificial intelligence, advanced development platforms, data, virtual reality and more. If rated in terms of opportunity, such a gathering would be priceless and to have it take place in Durban surprised many.

Data geek Gevers said “From what I can tell from discussions with our partners in Cape Town and Johannesburg – it’s certainly easier to innovate in tech in those cities right now in terms of funding, government support and enablement, and in terms of finding people to partner or collaborate with. Having said that, I think that people and firms that know of Durban and work with Durban’s tech firms are pleasantly surprised”.

He added that he was more aware of events and collaborations and more aware of who is in the ecosystem than he was before.

“I would say that most of the tech organisations I come across are looking to connect and collaborate and I think that is an early indicator of a hub forming and that bodes well for Durban’s tech hub future. We just need to get over our fear of competition and foster collaboration for all this activity to actually form a hub” said Gevers.

Software is a big part of the world’s future and it is crucial that every country cultivates the talents that deliver on software and other technologies in order to be competitive.

According to Durbanite and bot expert Naik “The fantastic thing about software development is that it is location agnostic, your geography does not determine the quality of your code” adding that although that may be so and although Durban was not on par with what international markets offer – it was a bet he was willing to take.

Durban, from its supposedly sleepy coastal vantage, is helping revolutionise and build South Africa’s development pedigree. Can it become the Silicon Valley of South Africa? That may happen sooner than you think and the Dev2 Developer Evenings are helping lay that foundation.

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