Imagine going back thirty years and making predictions about the future. Video calls on hand-held computers that are way more advanced than the computers that sent the Apollo ships to the moon, the ability to work and have meetings with colleagues from anywhere in the world, even from a beach, smart fridges that tell you when to replace groceries and food delivered to your door whenever you want it. Science fiction then, but our reality today.
Software development, alongside huge surges in processing power and devices, has – and will continue to – change the world. However, software development is not just about imagining a far-off future, it’s also about the amazing and intelligent solutions that are being developed today that take industries such as retail leaps and bounds ahead of where it was just a few short years ago.
The pandemic triggered an acceleration in almost every business’s digital transformation, and as such software development plays an even bigger role than before as retailers and other companies look to build their competitive edge. Look out for these five trends in 2022 and beyond:
Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI has been the rage for many years, with promises of what’s possible both exciting and scaring the general public for quite some time. 2022, I believe, will be a very important year in the use of AI, especially in the actual development of software.
At its core, the technology behind AI means that we have a machine that can act like us, and that we are able to train it to do tasks. The idea behind this type of technology is to give the heavy lifting, or repetitive and time-consuming work, to the machines while humans can invest more time and capacity into the actual creativity and value-added work.
In the software development space, there are exciting applications which allow you to develop code far faster than was previously possible. These applications allow you to give instructions in a natural language such as, say, in English, and the AI will generate the code. This is set to revolutionise the software development world in 2022 and beyond because of the speed at which it can happen.
The first trend leads into the second trend because it enables rapid development. Most businesses want to get an idea, or a concept, into practice as quickly as possible. They want to see how users and customers are going to react or respond to the idea. This requires very rapid development to come up with prototypes and reusable components that can easily plug together to set up a system that is usable, and importantly, testable.
Once a business has – rapidly – been able to set up their tests and have found that the concept works well and is well-received, they can convert that low fidelity solution into a high fidelity product that’s ready for widespread deployment.
The most compelling advantage of being in the cloud is the ability to scale up systems like never before. The hyperscalers such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services have platforms available for any business to leverage their technology and get people to use things such as mobile apps at a scale not possible before. Today, web apps can incorporate cognitive services and chatbots, all aimed at gaining a competitive advantage.
During high-volume periods such as Black Friday or Christmas, systems need to be able to scale in real-time to meet increased demand instead of crashing, and then down-scale when it is not needed. This type of functionality demands that the cloud becomes integral to modern businesses.
Mobile has been growing in importance and relevance for a while. Within mobile development you have native apps – the type most people and businesses are used to. A company develops an app and then goes through the process of having those apps loaded onto the Google Play or Apple iTunes store.
This is now moving towards progressive web apps (PWAs), and this trend is likely to gain even more momentum in 2022 and beyond. PWAs bypass the need to go through Google or Apple, and this comes with advantages. The business can develop the web app, and then direct users to a browser link to download the app. The power is that a business can push updates to users instantly, and don’t need to reconcile through Google or Apple first. This instant nature of PWAs echoes the theme of rapid development and cloud computing – a far closer timeframe interface between businesses and users.
Standards and guidelines
This is a key trend for 2022 and beyond, and affects actual developers and software development, which will have a knock-on effect for everyone involved. The pace of advancement and development has been astronomical and there are so many different ways of finding solutions and doing something. However, this phase of subjectivity in development has to be reigned in and there must be a set of standards and guidelines in the software development space, a kind of discipline, as it were, where there is agreement on best practices.
This has a knock-on effect for adding value to businesses, because solutions that are designed in this way are able to be expanded and built on by other teams – precisely because there has been discipline and an adherence to a certain set of principles. Because of the need to develop a seamless and good customer experience, the software development space is now primed to adopt these standards and guidelines. Certainly, from a redPanda perspective, our technical committee ensures that everything that is developed is done with this discipline, making adaptation, scaling and adjustments all the more viable.
An eye on the present to take advantage of the future
The digital space is exciting by its nature, but we are undergoing a particularly exciting phase where there are many opportunities to take businesses to a new level of agility and competitiveness. Whether it is in the field of cognitive services to streamline business processes or in efforts to push the boundaries of retail – such as endless aisles and no-queue services – consumers are set to benefit. It also means they will expect more from the companies where they spend their time and money.
The IT industry generally, and the software development space particularly, needs to focus on building and retaining skills. Critical skills are in short supply and experienced professionals are in high demand. However, the key for enterprise software development companies is to build a team of people who have the right attributes, such as embracing teamwork, pride in the work they do, and accountability, and then immerse them in environments where they learn from the best. That’s how they’ll be best positioned to take advantage of the growing trends in the software development space and develop the best solutions for their customers.