Discussing the effects of a pandemic has been a common theme in many of my posts lately. It has influenced everything. So many companies have switched to fully or mostly remote working. This shift has exposed opportunities to improve their processes. Those opportunities are often enabled by applying technology intelligently. In this post, I will highlight five trends I see for 2021. None of these are new concepts but are all becoming expectations for any custom software project.
Typical custom software development projects run on a tight budget. You focus only on what will bring the absolute greatest return on the investment. That will never change. What is changing is the expectations for what can be accomplished within that budget. It was previously enough to build a web application alone. It is increasingly the expectation that the system will also run natively on mobile and have a presence in the app stores. Development tools/systems like Expo.io and Xamarin increase developer productivity and are helping make this feasible.
Integrated With Everything
New custom software projects should not only run anywhere but also integrate with everything. I have seen so many investments that end up being a dead end. The investment is valuable at first, only to need to be re-thought and re-written in a few years. That model is not sustainable. Investments in custom software must continue to bring a return for very long timeframes. These systems must be flexible and support integration with other systems and ideas that do not exist when initially developed. API development is a critical part of most custom software projects now, and I expect this to become even more important this year. Understanding how to develop secure and easy to understand APIs that other systems can integrate with is critical.
Rapid Deployments with DevOps
I have seen a steady decrease in the amount of time and effort it takes to build and deploy systems throughout my career. I would have never predicted that deployments of new features could happen monthly, let alone daily or even less. The combination of infrastructure in the cloud and continuous integration and deployment tools have enabled these scenarios. DevOps allow custom software developers to bring value on a rapid, consistent basis instead of all at once when everything is done. DevOps are a critical part of any project and are now an expectation.
The simple trend every year is to build more with less. Big companies have been investing in low code platforms for a long time. These platforms get better every year but also still come with compromises. These can be the system’s limitations or the price they charge to play in their ecosystem. The trend is clear though, even when customers choose to pass on the low code platforms, the expectation is that the developed custom software uses some of the same patterns and techniques. Customers do not want to pay expensive fees every time a change is made to the system. Identifying the critical enhancement points of a system and giving the power back to the end-users to configure and enhance the system is essential.
Run anywhere, integrate with everything, add value often, and let the system owners create new value. All the trends above lead to systems that are used more. Systems being used more generate more data. Analyzing this information to make decisions on how to improve is more important now than ever. Like the Low Code trend, customers also want this power themselves. They want to look at the data and ask their questions without needing someone to interpret it for them. It’s our job, as custom software developers, to enable these scenarios.
These trends aren’t surprising or revolutionary. These concepts have been around for a while. The difference now is that they are expectations. When a company decides to invest in a system, they want their development partner to understand and guide them through decisions that consider all these trends. They do not want to manage several partners all focused on one small piece of the puzzle.
How To Prepare For 2021
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