Angel Montesdeoca, IBM: The role of AI in modern software development

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In an interview ahead of Digital Transformation Week, Angel Montesdeoca, Program Director of Product Management for watsonx Code Assistant at IBM, discussed the company’s approach to integrating AI into software development tools and accelerating the application lifecycle.

The age of generative AI 

According to Montesdeoca, we are living in “the age of generative AI” with huge investments being made in infrastructure, applications, and AI models across the tech industry. One key goal is to accelerate developer productivity and “do so much more with less” by automating mundane tasks and freeing up developers for higher impact decision-making.

“What AI is doing in the modern software lifecycle is it’s allowing us to go ahead and automate and accelerate the things our developers don’t have time for, or can go ahead and use their time to be better spent on higher impact decision-making,” explained Montesdeoca.

Ensuring accurate and reliable AI

Businesses often find themselves at a crossroads when it comes to integrating AI solutions into their specific operational needs. The challenge lies not only in harnessing the power of generative AI but also in tailoring it to address precise business requirements effectively.

Recognising this critical gap, IBM has stepped forward with a suite of AI Assistants engineered to bring generative AI and automation together to unlock new levels of performance and growth. The watsonx Code Assistant family is purpose-built, trained on domain-specific data and tailored for specific use cases. 

IBM understands that developers play a pivotal role in translating AI capabilities into real-world applications. Therefore, its solutions are designed to enhance developer productivity, enhance code quality and manageability, and streamline their application lifecycle.

For IBM watsonx Code Assistant, which provides generative AI-powered capabilities for code generation, code explanation, and test generation, Montesdeoca detailed several guardrails to help provide accuracy and reliability:

  • Based on IBM’s Granite foundation models for code running on IBM’s watsonx platform 
  • User testing by IBM teams, including the IBM CIO Organization and IBM Consulting
  • Transparency into the potential sources used in training data for generative AI content recommendations
  • Model customisation capabilities with existing enterprise content 

“The only way AI can really work is being very thoughtful about where you use it and how good it is at scale,” said Montesdeoca.

The future of AI and software 

Looking ahead, Montesdeoca is optimistic about generative AI’s future as the tech giants invest massively in semiconductors, models, and applications.

“You’re going to get something that is faster, more reliable, and you can harness this technology to then go ahead and apply that to real use cases,” he said.

Montesdeoca advised developers looking to incorporate AI to:

  • Identify key pain points they want to solve
  • Educate themselves on different models and solutions 
  • Try tools hands-on, but temper expectations and start small  
  • Iterate and customise solutions for their use cases

“Our job as subject matter experts as developers is to go ahead and harness this technology like any other tool and then go ahead and take it and customise it so that we can solve the challenges we’re facing at a technical level or at a business level,” he stated.

IBM has already seen promising results from watsonx Code Assistant in accelerating legacy modernisation and automation projects with customers like Westfield Insurance, delivering 80% time reduction in application discovery analysis and a 30% time reduction for a developer to explain and document application code.

With their expertise in areas like mainframes and Ansible, Montesdeoca believes IBM is well-positioned to provide practical and robust AI coding tools moving forward. Following our interview, we’re inclined to agree.

Gain further insights from Angel Montesdeoca as he shares his expertise in his day one presentation titled ‘Accelerating application modernisation with generative AI and automation’ at Digital Transformation Week. Montesdeoca will also be taking part in a panel titled ‘The evolution of emerging technologies to advance digital transformation’ with other thought leaders.

Looking to revamp your digital transformation strategy? Learn more about Digital Transformation Week taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London. The comprehensive event is co-located with AI & Big Data Expo, IoT Tech Expo, Intelligent Automation Conference, BlockX, Digital Transformation Week, and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo.

Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge here.

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