The software development industry has received a paradigm shift due to the Covid disruption and upcoming trends that are shaking up the scene. Let’s take a look at some of the most imminent trends that are currently popular. 

  1. Artificial intelligence

The integration of AI into developing software will grow hugely in the coming year, in e-commerce, manufacturing, on-demand apps, healthcare, online portals, among others. The use of Natural Language Programming/Deep Learning and Machine Learning will continue to help businesses build customer-first products and services. AI can help at the requirement analysis and gathering stage before moving on to the actual design. Other potential uses include automation of routine development tasks, testing and debugging using algorithms, and using AI-powered development tools to cut down the lines of code by half. Using AI/ML tools, automatic bug detection can be done right at the coding stage. Machine learning also helps the software development cycle with quick prototyping and intelligent programming assistants.

  1. Blockchain

Increase in security needs for protecting data privacy, application of blockchain technology has been gaining traction for several years and will gain grounds. The biggest feature it offers is data integrity which cannot be tampered with, which is crucial in sectors like finance, governance, healthcare, telecom, and even social media. Blockchain Development, in which a developer creates smart contracts, security protocols, etc., is a huge demand in capital markets, national and international payment gateways, online identity management, banking, and loyalty/rewards. Businesses will demand more blockchain expertise going forward due to its transparency, traceability, and cost-effectiveness. It’s also very practical since it handles massive amounts of datasets in single distributed ledgers and increases transaction speeds. Blockchain developers that can come up with innovative ideas to integrate legacy businesses and eliminate technical implementation gaps will be highly sought after.

  1. Mixed reality

Mixed or extended reality is a use of the combination of AR and VR technologies to create the experience of overlay and interaction between humans and digital objects. Everyday examples are gaming apps, healthcare assistance, and learning tools. Creating custom AR, VR, and MR for wearables, smartphones, tablets is a market with great potential for futuristic ideas in customer engagement. There’s also the availability of Mixed Reality Tool Kits in the software market with adequate documentation on prototyping, design process, building, testing, and deployment of mixed reality software. Microsoft HoloLens is a popular mixed reality device. Some outstanding successes of mixed reality in terms of some entertainment projects are virtual games like Pokemon Go and more recently Mario Kart Live. Other popular examples include the YouCam app, Google Lens, Snapchat, Ikea World, among others. According to forecasts, the global mixed reality market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 75.28% during the period 2017-2021 (source: researchandmarkets.com). 

  1. Internet of Things (IoT)

From connected vehicles, wearables, machinery maintenance, smart voice assistant, to healthcare devices, the market for IoT is unprecedented right now. With a projected CAGR of 14.9% by 2024, the global IoT solutions and services market will be greatly aided by developments in predictive maintenance, the ubiquity of internet connection, and the spread of diverse wireless devices across sectors. Huge strides are being made into Industrial IoT with smart cities, power infrastructure, waste management, traffic management, manufacturing (smart factories), construction (smart buildings), to name a few. IoT software development companies that excel at end-to-end connectivity management of IoT applications, aggregate and process data with data visualization and actionable insights into mass production across niche markets will rule the roost. At the same time, owing to the vastness of scope and endless streams of big data in IoT projects, developers will need to take special care to decide on the right IoT platform, technology stack, devise optimum scalability strategies, and ensure robust authentication and advanced encryption technology. 

  1. Big data

Companies will adopt augmented analytics to tap into the latest business trends and gain in-depth insights into customer behaviour faster than before. Especially together with IoT, digital twin data analysis can help developers create top-of-the-line connected devices. Predictive and prescriptive advanced analytics, aided by cloud technology, will proliferate for monitoring and controlling data. Software development cycles will be quickened by applying high-level algorithms that would, in turn, produce high-performance apps. The insights generated from augmented analytics and automated predictions would further be used to improve upon the quality of the app, making the final digital product unmatched in customer satisfaction. The growth of the online marketplace ecosystem will make it mandatory for companies to use big data analytics to stay competitive. 

  1. Progressive web apps

Progressive web apps with page load times of 3 seconds will continue to remain popular for native-like customer engagement and quick service. However, developers will have to consider secure hosting networks and superior service workers to make them work offline create maximum impact in terms of UX. Also, engaging the users again with alerts and push notifications will have to be approached with fresh strategies. Core strategies to succeed in PWA development in 2021 are mobile-first orientation, incorporating native-like features, and diverse hardware compatibility. Developers also need to stay updated with Google policies for established Digital Asset Links and keep in mind that PWAs should follow Aoole guidelines such as “…include features, content, and UI that elevate it beyond a repackaged website”. According to research, a good PWA development process ends up doubling customer engagement than native apps/websites as long as they’re quick and are designed to function on all devices equally well. Some of the top stacks for PWAs are React JS, Angular JS, Polymer, Vue.JS, and Ionic. 

  1. Low code development

According to a prediction by Gartner, more than 50 of SMBs will use low code development platforms by 2023. It’s one trend to take off exponentially in 2021. In fact, according to another more positive report for immediate times in 2021, Forrester estimates that 75% of enterprises will develop low code technology in 2021. With the growth of AI-powered tools and all-rounded low code platforms that serve the most elegant functionality of drag and drop and simplification to deliver business-critical applications, 2021 has been declared the year of low code development. 

Low-code platforms come equipped with easy drag and drop functionality, application lifecycle manager, connectors, and back-end support, and can be further enhanced by a plethora of tools for productivity.

The emerging work-from-home paradigm has given a massive boost to low code platforms as they sustain productivity. Companies are seeing low code platforms as a go-to when there’s a talent gap or when the time to market needs to be shortened. Even as low code takes over as a quick solution to some development-related pressures, it isn’t seen as an alternative to serious coding. 

  1. 5G

This is the fastest-growing mobile technology likely to impact the software development industry in a momentous way. Developers will have more complex, sophisticated, and immersive offerings to create due to faster internet speeds and extremely low latency. Digital products will have more use cases and more specialised knowledge will be made commonplace through innovative tools. There will be more streaming, multiplication of connected devices, and the ability to merge diverse platforms altogether. The combination of cloud-native strategies, Mixed Reality development with adaptable UI, location-based services, and IoT-centric approach will be key to leveraging the benefits of 5G. Edge computing will gain momentum because transferring and processing of data will become lightning fast due to 5G. Data transmission is predicted to reach up to speeds of 20 Gbps once 5G takes over. 

  1. Human augmentation

Extending human capabilities has been a hot new emerging field in medicine and technology in the last couple of years. Some famous applications of human augmentation include wearable glasses to provide vision to the blind, exoskeletons that are mechanical pieces that can be worn on the exterior to enhance strength, chip implants to cure neurological disorders, brain-computer interface pioneered by Neuralink. Development scope lies strongly in the real-time data received from wearables and embeddable which can enhance hyper-automation, incredible personalisation, and fresh insights from merging biological and machine intelligence. 

  1. Continuous Integration and Deployment (CI/CD)

With the rapid adoption of cross-platform app development, PWAs, and DevOps/Agile/Lean methodologies, CI/CD will emerge as an irrefutable best practice in software development. Continuous Integration means merging code changes into a central repository as early and often as possible. Continuous Deployment means deploying all changes at the testing stage or production stage. This practice is being widely integrated to ensure code quality and stability. To ensure success from the start, developers need to define clear deployment pipelines and automate metrics, monitoring and alerting in addition to building resilient failure-response systems. 

In a recent developer skills survey called HackerRank, it was agreed that JavaScript is the most required language in software development and the top frameworks are JS, React, Django, and Spring. Developers should upskill their existing skills to stay relevant to the upcoming trends.