The COVID-19 situation will definitely go down as one of the disasters that impacted the economy of the whole world.  As the pandemic was raging in the first and second quarters of 2020, all companies were in disarray and had to take drastic measures to sustain themselves. Software development was an activity among many others that faced a downward trend, but thanks to remote working conditions and other factors, it wasn’t impacted negatively due to the pandemic. 2020 has demonstrated the need for more digitalization and customer centric solutions across industries. By the time the pandemic is over, there is no doubt that the software industry landscape will be vastly different.

A Gartner study has predicted that software engineering trends for 2021 would be decided by customer centricity, location independence, and the resilience of companies. In short, the challenges we faced in 2020 will force organizations to adopt flexible and cutting edge technologies to perform well and compete in their respective markets. While some predictions made in 2019 about 2020 did not bear fruit, many of them did. This was due to the flexibility and adaptability of software development teams to perform in distributed and remote conditions. The predictions done by the Gartner study has narrowed down a number of technologies and we have come up with a few software trends that are likely to gain traction in 2021.

Cloud Native Development/Microservices

Cloud Native application development makes use of Containers, DevOps, and Microservices architecture effectively for better innovation and commoditization of applications and services. Its ability to reduce the application development time and improve the scalability of services based on market demands has made it a popular choice among software engineers. Cloud-native development solutions allow customers to optimize their applications and integrate them if the conditions arise. The benefits of cloud native development include:

  • Accelerated application development
  • Scalability support
  • Improved performance

Organizations that compete in a rapidly changing market are realizing the practical applications of Microservices, DevOps and Containers and are going cloud native. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) has found out that there was a 50% increase in the use of CNCF projects since 2016 and this upward trend is expected to continue in 2021 as well. In the same survey, an overwhelming 92% of respondents have confirmed their use of containers. These numbers prove nothing but the upward trend of cloud native development.

Hybrid Cloud

In the wake of the pandemic, a majority of organizations had to deal with workload pile up and the obvious solution to that problem was moving to a hybrid cloud environment. While the migration to cloud was in the rise even before COVID-19, a considerable number of organizations weren’t cloud ready. Businesses that found themselves in a run for survival have realized that hybrid cloud environments reduce latency, allow companies to customize and optimize from their end, and provides security. It allows them to utilize more than one cloud service which will in turn make data sharing and collaboration among partners more viable in the long run.

While hybrid cloud seems promising, the organizations that will have to adopt the following for better business outcomes:

  • New security technologies like confidential computing and quantum safe encryption
  • AI automation
  • Create a single hybrid platform by integrating a number of cloud and on-premise systems
  • Ability to push more workloads onto intelligent edge devices

In the coming years, organizations are most likely to adopt these technologies and address the challenges that accompany them. Meanwhile, the global cloud computing market size is poised to grow at a CAGR of 17.5% by 2025 and hybrid cloud market is likely to develop to $97.6 billion by 2023. So, technology enthusiasts can expect hybrid cloud environments to dominate the software industry.

DevOps

Within a decade, DevOps has become more than just “Dev” and “Ops”. It now represents the efforts to get rid of the constraints between the businesses and their customers. It has transformed into a process that adds value rather than just releasing products and features. Business leaders are realizing the benefits of DevOps and the value they bring in to their organizations. With companies embracing cloud-native development, serverless computing and Kubrenetes as a result of the pandemic, DevOps is bound to become ubiquitous.

DevOps maturity varies from organization to organization, but there are a few structural changes all organizations can make to improve it. The most obvious change is to use a platform to software delivery which will enable companies to deliver high quality software that satisfies the business needs. Another constraint that withholds the frequent release of software is change management. Organizations can apply the following DevOps practices and deliver frequent releases that are crucial to DevOps success:

  • Automation of testing
  • Automation of risk-management
  • Writing changes in code
  • Allowing employees to influence the changes

Since moving to the cloud has become inevitable for companies, business leaders are likely to focus on adopting DevOps or increasing their DevOps maturity. It is going to drive digital transformation on an unprecedented scale and eventually lead to the success of businesses.

Internet of Things (IoT)

When things like mobile devices, home appliances and cars are connected to the internet and perform functions in response to data collected from user behavior, we have ourselves a Wallace and Gromit level lifestyle. Many of us are unknowingly using a lot of IoT devices and benefitting from them as well. But businesses have also realized the potential of IoT to improve their decision making abilities and safety conditions since IoT collects and analyzes the data for them efficiently. Some of the most obvious avenues IoT can improve in companies are,

  • Management Reporting
  • Operational Efficiencies
  • Failure-Response Time
  • Customer service

Technologies such as 5G are sure to drive the IoT market and the global spending on IoT is expected to crosss $1.1 trillion by the end of 2022. If this trend continues, the world would be filled with 50 billion IoT devices by 2030.

 Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

 AR augments the environment of users while VR immerses them in a virtual environment. Apart from gaming, AR and VR have immense potential in retail, education, and marketing. It is already being used by many organizations around the world including armed forces, hospitals, museums and theme parks to train professionals and provide a deeper experience.

The AR and VR market is expected to grow to $ 1.6 billion by 2025 and retailers around the world can benefit a lot from these technologies. AR and VR help retailers by reducing operating costs and their customers by providing and engaging experience. These technologies can also give way to innovative marketing methods.

With the introduction of the Ikea app that helps customers to choose furniture for their homes, AR has already made its way into Furniture retail. Realizing the benefits and the value they offer, major retailers and technology companies have already invested heavily on AR and VR. The first quarter of 2020 saw over 2500 patents related to AR/VR issued around the world and it is likely to have tripled by the end of the year.

Hyperautomation

​Gartner listed hyperautomation in its Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020 report and this trend is likely to continue in 2021. Hyperautomation blends in Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in order to automate legacy business processes. It aims to prevent redundancies made by business users and track business processes to automate them. By creating bots for business processes automatically and dynamically, hyperautomation streamlines them for better business outcomes. Hyperautomation can unleash an organization’s potential by bringing in AI capabilities, the ability to engage the entire workforce to automation, and advanced analytics.

AI in hyperautomation brings in improved performance, reliability and scalability. It also deals with maintenance issues and organizations that exploit AI will gain the ability to make better decisions faster, accelerate discovery and prevent weaknesses. The demand for AI specialists grew by 75% in the last five years and with the popularity of hyperautomation on the rise, this demand is set to grow. On the other hand, RPA brings in a streamlined workflow, flexibility and the ability to automate business processes cheaply and efficiently. Another Gartner study predicts that RPA software revenue is expected to grow by 19.5% by 2021 from 2019. They can also leverage existing infrastructure without disruptions to underlying systems using RPA.

Sriram Sundaresan

Sriram Sundaresan

Sriram is a biotechnologist-turned content writer who writes about emerging trends in software engineering. When he’s not writing, he’s researching history, or learning to cook up tasty treats. He is passionate about cinema with his favorite director being Quentin Tarantino. He loves to keep fit by playing football in his spare time.
Sriram Sundaresan