10 Trends In Software Development 2020
In our guide “How to find a good software developer”, I touched on the rapid growth of the software development industry.
Businesses are rushing to develop enterprise software to create new markets and products. Additionally, businesses are also developing enterprise applications to improve their operational efficiency.
As a business leader with a high dependency on enterprise systems, you ought to know where software development will create value in the coming years/decades. This requires that you know the emerging trends in software development.
In this article, I will explain the 10 trends in software development from this year.
Top trends in software development
The key trends in software development are as follows:
1. Mixed Reality (MR): High potential in enterprise solutions
Mixed Reality (MR), i.e., a combination of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) has significant potential in enterprise applications. AR integrates digital content with the physical environment of users, whereas VR creates an immersive experience for users.
Organizations in many sectors like defense, tourism, architecture, construction, gaming, healthcare, etc. are realizing key business value with the help of this technology. The global market for MR is growing rapidly. An IndustryARC market research report projects that this market will grow from $1.054 billion in 2017 to $9.982 billion in 2024, and it will see a CAGR of 73.2% during the 2018-2023 period.
You could consider several MR use cases for implementation depending on the nature of your business, e.g.:
- Manufacturing businesses can use 3D modeling in a VR environment to improve their design processes and overall engineering, as our guide “Application of virtual reality in manufacturing” explains.
- Businesses, government organizations, and even non-profit organizations can use AR and VR to train their employees in complex jobs.
- The ability to overlay digital information on the physical environment on a real-time basis creates many possibilities for augmented reality in business, e.g., AR-enabled mirrors show a digital representation of objects to drivers that they can‘t see in any other way.
- Media and entertainment businesses are using AR and VR in a significant way to offer engaging content to consumers. VR games are hugely popular!
- Businesses can use AR and VR to let their prospective customers “try out” their products virtually, and this augments their sales effort. I have explained this earlier in “How to build an augmented reality hairstyle app”.
Read more about these use cases in “6 use cases for enterprise mixed reality”.
2. Blockchain: Augmenting enterprise solutions with transparency, efficiency, and security
While cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether have made us sit up and notice blockchain, the technology has wide implications for enterprise systems. Blockchain is a peer-to-peer (P2P) network, and it offers decentralization, a distributed ledger, security features, and transparency.
Smart contracts running on blockchain networks are tamper-proof and transparent, therefore, they improve trust. Their execution is irreversible, which can make contract administration easier.
Businesses and governments are keenly exploring blockchain, therefore, its global market is growing rapidly. A Cision PR Newswire report estimates that the market for blockchain technology will reach $57.641 billion in 2025, accompanied by an impressive 69.4% CAGR between 2019 and 2025.
Blockchain has the potential to add value to many sectors. Examples of a few blockchain use cases are as follows:
- Improving supply chain management: Supply chain management is a complex process with plenty of paperwork, manual processes, and inefficiencies. Blockchain can streamline this function, thanks to its distributed ledger, immutability, and smart contracts.
- Identity management: Identity management involves a high degree of manual processes, moreover, identity information resides in silos. Blockchain can improve the “Identity and Access Management” (IAM) processes with its tamper-proof data and distributed ledger. Read “Benefits of blockchain for identity management” for more insights.
- Better analytics: Analytics software needs reliable data for providing the right insights and forecasts. Blockchain offers immutability and audit trail, thereby assuring the right quality of data. This can help businesses in all sectors since they can run their analytics tools on reliable data.
- Disruption through decentralization: Blockchain platforms like Ethereum and NEO enable entrepreneurs to build “Decentralized apps” (DApps), therefore, they can disrupt existing centralized business models.
- Securing the Internet of Things (IoT): The Internet of Things (IoT) has significant potential since it can derive insights from billions of sensors and devices. However, IoT faces risks since the entire communication between devices takes place over the Internet. Blockchain can secure this communication with its robust security features.
Read more about these use cases in “5 blockchain product use cases to follow this year”.
3. Artificial Intelligence (AI): Ushering in intelligent enterprise systems
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a multi-disciplinary branch of computer science, which intends to make machines perform tasks that only human beings could do earlier. It‘s a vast field, and while parts of it have been commercialized, research & development continue on its other dimensions.
AI includes various capabilities like machine learning (ML), deep learning, vision, natural language processing, speech, etc. Read “Artificial Intelligence: What it is and why it matters” for more insights.
This discipline of computer science “trains” computer systems from “experience”, i.e., a vast amount of data. As we feed it with more relevant data, the computer systems improve upon their capabilities of performing human-like tasks.
Gartner projects that AI augmentation will create $2.9 trillion worth of business value in 2021. The “Artificial Intelligence Market – 2025 | MarketsandMarkets” report estimates that the global market of AI will reach $190.61 billion by 2025, up from $16.06 billion in 2017. This report projects a CAGR of 36.62% during the 2018-2025 period.
Wondering how AI could benefit your business? Well, it has a wide range of use cases, e.g.:
- Image and video recognition capabilities of AI could help law enforcement and security agencies, as I have explained in “How to build facial recognition software”.
- Efficient and scalable processing of patient data could help healthcare delivery organizations.
- Chatbots could help businesses streamline their customer service operations. Read more about this in “5 ways AI will change your business in the near future”.
- AI-powered predictive maintenance could improve operational efficiency in the manufacturing industry.
- AI and ML could help software developers and testers by intelligently automating low-end tasks, as I have explained in “Machine learning in future software development”.
You can find more AI use cases in “Top 15 use cases for artificial intelligence”.
4. The Internet of Things (IoT)
As technology trends go, the Internet of Things (IoT) is one that could have far-reaching impacts on our world, and not just on businesses. IoT is a network of physical objects like gadgets, devices, vehicles, appliances, etc., and these devices use sensors. Devices on these networks use application programming interfaces (APIs) to exchange data over the Internet.
IoT is a result of the integration of various technologies like sensors, Big Data, AI, ML, Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID), and APIs. Read more about it in “What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?”.
The global spend on IoT was valued at $235 billion in 2017. The market for IoT is experiencing significant growth, and it will likely reach $520 billion in 2021. Read “IoT market predicted to double by 2021, reaching $520B” for more insights.
IoT has various use cases, and the following are just a few examples:
- Predictive maintenance: Large enterprises in various industries like oil & gas, manufacturing, etc. need to keep their expensive machinery running at an optimal level. This requires robust predictive maintenance capabilities, and IoT offers that with its sensors, cameras, analytics, etc.
- Smart meters: Monitoring energy consumption in real-time is important for managing energy distribution and making relevant pricing adjustments. Smart meters equipped with IoT enables this for the energy companies.
- Asset tracking: IoT enables effective asset tracking, therefore, enterprises can implement effective asset efficiency practices. This helps in managing many aspects of a business, e.g., inventory, supply chain, logistics, etc.
- Connected vehicles: Connected vehicles can offer several advantages, e.g., self-driving cars can reduce the number of accidents. IoT is a key technology component in connected vehicles.
- Fleet management: Tracking vehicles and other forms of assets can help transportation companies improve their fleet efficiency, and IoT is a key building block in such solutions.
Read more about these use cases in “The top 5 industrial IoT use cases”.
5. Language and framework trends for developing enterprise apps
Technology evolves. What languages and frameworks should you use for developing your enterprise app? The Stack Overflow Developer Survey Results 2019 indicates the following:
- jQuery is the most popular web framework, with React.js, Angular, and ASP.NET following it.
- js is the most popular among libraries and other frameworks, with .NET following it.
- MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Microsoft SQL Server are the three most popular databases, respectively.
- Both Kotlin and Swift, the popular languages for native development on Android and iOS respectively, figure prominently in the list of “most loved languages”.
6. Cybersecurity: A Key consideration when building enterprise solutions
Experts consistently point out how cybercrimes cause trillions of dollars in losses, therefore, it‘s no surprise that cybersecurity is a prominent consideration when developing an enterprise app. Cybercriminals are organized, moreover, they are continuously upgrading their capabilities.
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Cyber-attackers resort to various kinds of attacks, e.g., phishing attacks, distributed-denial-of-services (DDoS), etc. Market observers estimate that cyber-attacks will cause $6 trillion in losses in 2021, as you can read in “11 eye opening cyber security statistics for 2019”.
You ought to proactively mitigate the key application security risks. More often than not, mitigating application security risks boils down to managing the project well, adhering to IT architecture and coding guidelines, etc.
Key applications security risks are as follows:
- Ineffective authentication;
- Exposure of sensitive data;
- XML external entities (XXE);
- Incorrect implementation of identity and access management;
- Inadequate security configurations;
- Cross-site scripting (XSS);
- Deserialization without adequate security;
- Using outdated software with known vulnerabilities;
- Sub-optimal logging and monitoring processes.
You can learn more about them and the associated mitigation measures in the “Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) top 10 application security risks – 2017” report.
7. “Progressive Web Applications” (PWAs)
As far as mobile is concerned, native apps deliver the best user experience and performance. However, developing native apps can cost you significantly since you will need to develop apps for Android and iOS separately. You also need to factor in the long-term maintenance cost for two different codebases.
“Progressive Web Apps” (PWAs) are web apps, however, they deliver user experience partly similar to native mobile apps. They are responsive, speedy, and secure, moreover, they can work offline. Read “Why build a Progressive Web App?” for more information.
You can install a PWA on the home screen, furthermore, a PWA can support push notifications. Users don‘t need to search for PWAs in app stores, and they can find them on the web. PWAs are linkable, moreover, they are always up to date. Flipboard is an example of a PWA.
While PWAs fall short of the native app user experience, developing them can be a good option if the development budget is your priority. There is only one codebase to develop and maintain, therefore, PWAs are less costly. In recent years, several businesses have seen improved customer engagement with the help of PWAs, as you can read in “Progressive Web Apps (PWA): Source materials”.
8. Low-code development
A key trend that has emerged in recent years is low-code development. Businesses using this approach have the objective of improving software development efficiency, and they seek to minimize hand-coding for this.
Low-code development platforms offer GUIs, and developers use it to draw flowcharts depicting the business logic. The platform then generates code for implementing that business logic.
You can significantly expedite your digital transformation by using low-code platforms, moreover, you can reduce the backlog of IT development projects. These platforms also reduce your dependency on niche technical skills that are hard to hire. You can read more about such platforms in “10 best low-code development platforms in 2019”.
If you plan to take advantage of such platforms then you should look for enterprise-grade platforms with industry-standard security features. Appian and Mendix are good examples of low-code development platforms.
9. Code quality
Some things never change! The importance of code quality in software development will never decrease, therefore, you need to accord high priority to this.
Code quality has several aspects, e.g.:
Software development teams that maintain a high quality of code enable their organizations to maintain the code easily. Since they write code with lower complexity, the organization doesn‘t need to solve too many bugs. Read more about this in “What is code quality? And how to improve it”.
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As the global business environment grows more and more complex, businesses are striving to make the best use of the capabilities they have. There‘s a dilemma here! A manufacturing enterprise might have a large IT assets portfolio, but it‘s not an IT company! They might have developed many software solutions over several decades, however, that‘s not their core competency.
Businesses have found out the importance of focusing on their core competencies and offloading the peripheral tasks to partners that have core competencies there. This realization continues to drive the trend of IT outsourcing.
Accordingly, large businesses have increased the % of their IT budget spent on outsourcing from 6.3% in 2018 to 8.7% in 2019. Medium-sized businesses have increased this component too, from 4.7% to 6.5%, as you can read in this MarketWatch report.
You might need to outsource software development for your business too, however, focus on the right priorities. E.g., in the longer term, delivering a quality product to your customers matters more than reducing cost. Read more about this in “More business are outsourcing IT and software development rather than hiring in-house.”.
Planning to undertake a strategic software development project?
Understanding the key trends in the software development landscape helps, however, you will still need to execute your development project successfully. That can be challenging when the project is complex, and strategic projects tend to be complex. Consider engaging a trusted development partner for such projects, and read our guide “How to find the best software development company?” to find one.