2021 Software Development Trends/Predictions

One more predictions article for your 2020 wrap up.

Alongside the stress and complexity of a changing economy are some exciting software development trends to look forward to. I predict the following will shape technology, how it’s developed, and how it’s used.

Here are some of the biggest software and tech trends and how you can leverage them in your 2021 strategy.

Edge Computing

Your iPhone has more computing power than the 1969 computer that sent astronauts to the moon. This means that you can store more power, capacity, and data on smaller devices. It also means less reliance on sketchy network connections and slow data transfers.

Instant and real-time information, where people and machines can use it to make decisions quickly: this is edge computing. Think heart monitors, autonomous vehicles, and remote applications.

While edge computing is most crucial for IoT companies, everyone in software development needs to be aware, especially if you gather data or have a physical presence in the world.

How it will affect you: If your application is used in a remote setting, you can leverage edge computing to increase functionally. If you gather/visualize data from sensors, you can do it cheaper than ever before.

Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence gets better each year and 2021 is no exception. Since machine learning is almost as good as a human, you want to use it to surface anomalies and bring them to the attention of a human. For software companies, natural language processing (NLP) is a good place to start. You can implement NLPs rather quickly to improve customer support via chatbots and AI-generated knowledge bases.

Where we predict the greatest AI impact: Language processing, computer vision, biology, and minor progress in self-driving vehicles.

Simplification of Software

The trend of simplification in software engineering will continue. The less code your organization maintains, the less budget you need, which translates to continued efforts to reduce that footprint. In most cases, this means more services, libraries, and COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) products. In some simpler cases, this can also mean low-code/no-code solutions.

“Instead, focus on improving your unique value proposition and buy standard functionality applications.”

How this trend will affect you: This will benefit a company’s bottom line, as COTS and libraries are easy to scale, inexpensive to implement, and reduce maintenance costs. Businesses no longer need to customize every aspect of their software solutions. Instead, focus on improving your unique value proposition and buy standard functionality applications.

More Pragmatism in Engineering

Adding on to the simplification point above, there will be a continued trend to be pragmatic about software architecture. Following the latest trends can sound good on paper, but after having bad experiences with hyped-up trends like microservices over the last few years, more teams are moving towards simpler architecture.

Many of these trends aren’t bad, they’re just unnecessary for most teams. Following in the footsteps of 1,000+ person engineer teams at a small startup is not only unnecessary but very costly.

In summary: be pragmatic about your current size, your projected size, and your true needs as an organization, to ensure you land on an architecture that allows you to move quickly.

Conversations to have with your team: If your engineering team is considering a complex architecture, ask them why. Some problems require complex solutions, and it may be completely warranted. Other times it’s over-engineering, and will only slow you down.

Remote & Collaboration Technologies

The best teamwork software product and features have likely yet to be developed. Many companies predicted a quick return to the office, failing to find/create suitable work from home technologies. We are still witnessing technology leaders who sabotage their team’s productivity with sub-par remote solutions. So if your team isn’t heading back into the office, make sure this is a major part of your 2021 planning.

Some of our favorite brands: Miro, GSuite, Slack, Zoom, KosmoTime, Toggl, and nagbot.

Other 2021 Software Development Trends

5G: There likely won’t be a huge change for most people in 2021. But it’s still an exciting technology to keep on your radar.

Satellite Networks: In October 2020, Starlink launched 60 internet satellites into low-orbit, continuing its mission to provide cheap, reliable internet across the globe and to remote locations.

AR/VR: Just about every year, someone predicts that AR/VR will take over the world. And while we don’t doubt its power, it’s taken longer to be implemented in practicable applications. As technology gets better, more use cases will gradually emerge and enhance the user experience.

Facial Recognition Tech — Facial recognition was hotly contested this past summer as agents sought to identify individuals at protests. While we don’t predict this technology is leaving us entirely, it’s essential to consider whether your company will or will not collect and store this data.

Security & Privacy: People are more and more concerned with corporations storing and using their personal data. Know your user, what data you have on them, and how you might operate as laws continue to pass.

More Reading

This 2021 software playbook presents a good view of these trends alongside market trends.

Here are some more specific software trends surrounding back end development.

Jump ahead to 2030 to see some long-term software predictions.

Originally published at https://devetry.com on December 1, 2020.

CTO at Devetry (www.devetry.com). I write about technology, software development, and entrepreneurship. I also play guitar and love whiskey.

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