The Biggest Software Development Trends for 2021 and Beyond

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This year had a lot of unprecedented occurrences. It’s a rollercoaster where you don’t know what the next day will bring. Nevertheless, even under such circumstances, IT development didn’t slow down. More than that, software development trends keep accelerating.

Consequently, we’ve been forced to adapt to the new environment using the technology we have, for example, in terms of remote work. Many new technologies emerged and evolved, and with them, new trends that we can expect to grow when we go into 2021.

All departments see progression in their digitization. Because the society’s expectations and needs keep growing, organisations aim to meet them, although it’s getting harder each year. Software development advances over the past few years have become a must for businesses to keep themselves afloat among the competition.

Here are the top trends we can expect going into 2021.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Don't discount AI as a key software development trend
Photo by Photos Hobby on Unsplash

While plenty of businesses are already using technologies that are based upon AI, the trend in developing and improving it keeps accelerating. According to IDC, the revenue of AI is expected to have reached $156.5 billion. That’s more than 12% growth since 2019.

Artificial Intelligence has lots of uses in business. Cybersecurity is one of the most prominent branches where it’s used. AI can identify patterns of activity and malicious software that can potentially be a threat. Moreover, it becomes easier to detect data breaches and questionable IP addresses. For this reason, lots of firms aim to be as safe and secure as possible. Implementing AI into the security aspect helps them achieve that.

Another thing worth taking into consideration when talking about AI is the subject of hyper-automation. It’s a belief that whatever can be automated – should be automated. Therefore, technology leaders are constantly trying to achieve that goal using AI and machine learning to further increase the functionality and quality of day-to-day life.

Conversational IT is becoming more and more prominent, too. Automated chatbots can benefit departments such as marketing, customer support and sales. Right now, the performance of chatbots still seems to be far from an interaction with a human being. Because of that, technology leaders aim to make it as human-like as possible to ensure the quality of services. Even the aspect of empathy and emotion is being implemented to the chatbots. For this reason, in 2021, we’ll probably see much improvement in that branch of AI.

Low-code / no-code development

Low-code development is a critical software development trend that already emerged in 2020 and is going strong into 2021
Photo by Lavi Perchik on Unsplash

Low-code development is using applications to create software with a minimal amount of code or a complete lack thereof. This enables non-programmers to develop applications and implement them. Drag-and-drop editors are the most popular form of such activity.

The capability of these applications will keep growing as we go into 2021. Right now, they can be used to create large projects by people who have minimal knowledge of programming. It’s estimated that the revenue of no-code and low-code platforms will be growing 28.1% each year and will reach 45.5 billion USD by 2025. Whereas now, the revenue generated by such media is at 13.2 billion USD.

No-code platforms can be operated by employees who virtually have no programming abilities. They can take the form of complete drag-and-drop editors. The terms “no-code” and “low-code” are sometimes used interchangeably, but there’s a fundamental difference. Indeed, low-code development requires at least some amount of programming knowledge.

Still, big enterprise projects that entire organisations are based upon are to be made by experienced programmers. 

Complex websites emerge from using just low-code or no-code platforms. That’s one type of compound software that can be created using such applications. You can practically have no experience in programming whatsoever, but still, create websites that can compare to those created by real web developers. This trend was even more accelerated by the pandemic.

Low-code development can land great cost cuts for companies in need of not-too-complicated applications.

Low-code development doesn’t yet possess the capabilities to develop such applications. However, we may see much improvement in that aspect, and who knows, maybe programmers will become obsolete in a few years. Undoubtedly, right now the software developers are still at large because the more complicated projects require their work and understanding how things work code-wise.

Human augmentation

Human Augmentation
Photo by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash

It’s becoming apparent that humans want to create better and better versions of themselves. Augmentation is a technology that’s so integrated with the human body that it becomes an extension of them. Despite the fact that things like exoskeletons were sci-fi concepts not more than a few years ago, they are becoming a reality now.

Hearing aid is another prominent branch of human augmentation. Cheap implementations are emerging that are affordable for everybody. Full body suits that control the user’s temperature provide feedback and track movements are available, too. Even though, they are still used only for VR, researchers are working on transferring such suits into real life.

Connecting with computers is a thing that is being worked on, too. We see considerable advancements in that field of augmentation. Elon Musk’s Neuralink allows for connecting your brain to machines and controlling them yourself. While some portion of this technology is still a concept, the potential of it is enormous, virtually unlimited.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Internet of Things
Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash

Internet of Things refers to the practice of connecting various devices with themselves to create a network. Practically any devices. From kitchen amenities, cars, factory machines to points of sale in supermarkets. Everything is connected to share information in real-time. Especially during the pandemic, where human contact is limited, the use of the Internet of Things is skyrocketing.

One example of IoT usage would be self-operated points of sales in the supermarkets. They are becoming more and more prominent each day to ensure safe, contactless payment. We will keep advancing to the cashless system, which has been predicted for some time now.

Remote healthcare is another branch where IoT is used. The pandemic forced us to implement the technology on a much larger scale than ever before. The number of online consultations with doctors in the US has increased from 36 million annually to almost 1 billion. And the year isn’t yet finished. This really puts the advancement to scale. Remote sensors, bands and other devices help control people’s life functions at home. As hospitals and care centres are some of the most infection-exposed places, hence the move of patients to their homes and the use of remote monitoring.

Home offices are more productive too. Home assistants help with scheduling and planning the work. The communication between the employees is getting more convenient, also, as the software is becoming more reliable. Businesses need to function properly, as remote work got extremely popular due to safety reasons. Remote monitoring of machinery is another aspect that is made possible by the IoT.

Native and progressive apps

Native and progressive apps
Photo by Tim Bennett on Unsplash

Businesses aim to provide the best services possible. Therefore, they focus on developing native applications for specific platforms. The main target now are smartphones. iOS and Android are the two most prominent systems for native app development. Such applications improve the performance and user experience by a significant margin. 

The usage of Progressive Web Apps is getting more traction, too. PWAs are applications that are built upon the latest APIs to provide enhanced experience for the user. They have larger capabilities, load much faster preventing bounce rate, and work as a standalone window on a device. Installing such applications on your devices improve their possibilities which are limited when using a browser version. Because of these benefits such apps bring, their popularity keeps increasing.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is one of the biggest software development trends continuing in 2021
Photo by Ian Battaglia on Unsplash

While it has been a large part of businesses for the past year, this year’s situation brought tremendous advancements when it comes to cloud computing. Further advancements are to be expected, as the needs for clouds keep growing and evolving. The pandemic made the advancements even more critical for the functionality of many industries.

Amazon, Microsoft and Google are the leaders in Cloud computing. And this state of things is probably here to stay for now. Almost all businesses that work in any industry you can think of use the Cloud services provided by one of the giants. As more and more companies adopt digital transformation and software modernisation, all of them make a move to Cloud. It’s by far the most efficient method of storing your data these days and the most convenient. 

We will see an increase of migrations to Cloud platforms in 2021 without a doubt, and the expectations will further increase. This will create a need for new Cloud technologies that will be able to meet them, as security-wise it’s always risky to move to Cloud. To put it simply, Cloud is someone else’s computer, so that brings some safety issues that will have to be solved.

The growing popularity of outsourcing

Statistics show that the majority of companies choose to outsource their projects. This trend will keep growing as we go into 2021. Outsourcing allows for cutting costs of hiring in-house developers. Getting a software development team offshore is much cheaper and much less problematic. Outsourcing provides better efficiency, great expertise, flexibility, more time for in-house employees and saving available resources.

Right now, Eastern Europe is the leading region for outsourcing services. They have countless IT specialists that deliver the best quality of services. While the quality is on an immensely high level, the prices they offer are affordable. According to this software development outsourcing guide For Western Europe it’s a great opportunity to nearshore.

To clarify, nearshoring is outsourcing projects to countries that lack the language barrier, are similar in terms of culture and close when it comes to distance. Because the prices in the West are much higher, many companies choose to outsource in Eastern Europe. Here, countries such as Poland are some of the most prominent in the market. Recent statistics and analysis of the IT market show that it’s growing 5 times faster than in the rest of the world.

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