Overseeing generative AI: New software leadership roles emerge


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A majority of software leaders are already — or soon will be — incorporating generative AI into their day-to-day work activities. By 2025, more than half of all software-engineering leadership role descriptions will explicitly require oversight of generative AI, according to a Gartner analysis. 

This shift in responsibilities brings an urgency to the need to extend the scope of software leadership well beyond the bounds of application development and maintenance. Team management, talent management, business development, and enforcing ethics will be part of generative AI oversight, according to Gartner analyst Haritha Khandabattu. 

While generative AI will not replace developers, “it has the ability to automate certain aspects of software engineering,” she adds. And while it “cannot replicate the creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities that humans possess,” AI serves as a force multiplier that can enhance efficiency.

Also: Everyone wants responsible AI, but few people are doing anything about it

Other experts also recognize the importance of software engineering leadership positions. “The role of managers in the burgeoning societal transformation involving AI cannot be overstated,” state Nicholas Berente of the University of Notre Dame and Bin Gu of Boston University, writing in MIS Quarterly. 

“It is the managers that make all key decisions about AI. They oversee the development and implementation of AI-based systems, managers use them in their decision making, leverage them to target customers, and monitor and adjust the decisions, processes, and routines that appropriate AI. Managers allocate resources, oversee AI projects, and govern the organizations that are shaping the future.” 

Challenges for managers include mapping AI against business strategies, promoting human-AI interfaces, as well as paying attention to “data, privacy, security, ethics, labor, human rights, and national security,” Berente and his co-authors point out.  

Business alignment will be another key leadership capability. Industry leaders suggest AI in its leading forms — generative and operational — is not only a productivity tool for developers, but that this emerging technology also presents business opportunities that software leaders need to understand and push forward. “AI projects aren’t just technology projects,” says John…