Imagine it’s the 1950s and you just got a job as an accountant at a huge corporation. You show up on your first day ready to crunch numbers using the latest gadgets like the adding machine and ledger books.
But when you walk in, you see rooms full of people using these strange, clacking machines. You learn they’re called “computers” and can do calculations way faster than any human. Within a few years, your accounting job looks completely different thanks to the rise of this new technology called software.
We’re at a similar inflexion point today in the world of software development. New technologies like AI and blockchain are transforming how we build, deliver and use software solutions. As developers, we need to understand how these innovations will impact our work so we can prepare accordingly.
In this article, we’ll dive into the emerging trends that will shape the next decade of software development. I’ll share examples of companies using these technologies, as well as some pros and cons of each approach.
My goal is to give you an overview of what’s coming down the pike so you can decide how to skill up. Let’s get started!
The State of Play in Software Development
Meanwhile, business expectations keep rising. Everyone wants faster releases with more features to stay competitive. But developers often spend more time wrestling with technical debt, integration issues and manual processes than writing new code.
The good news is that emerging technologies aim to automate the boring stuff like configuring dev environments, doing QA testing and fixing bugs. They promise to make software development more nimble, productive and collaborative. But they also require us to adapt our skills and processes.
AI Eats Software
If you think robots are just for auto manufacturing, think again. Artificial intelligence (AI) is making inroads across the software lifecycle.
For example, Salesforce’s Einstein platform generates test cases to find tricky bugs before go-live. AI code refinement tools like DeepCode spot potential security flaws and bad coding practices early on. And tools like TabNine auto-complete code snippets in your IDE as you type based on deep learning algorithms.
Another use case is voice interfaces. Say you want to build a voice assistant like Siri for your hotel guests. An AI conversation platform like Anthropic can generate the core conversational logic from just a few examples. AI is even composing music and writing stories nowadays!
But AI systems are prone to bias. Coders need to ensure they test AI rigorously before unleashing it. Used right, AI can amplify coders’ abilities. But we shouldn’t become over-reliant on algorithms making judgment calls. Humans still need to stay in the loop.
Making Apps Without Code
Low-code and no-code platforms allow building apps visually by assembling Lego-like building blocks instead of typing thousands of lines of code. For example, Appian lets you model business processes with flowcharts. The platform then generates the underlying application logic automatically.
While low-code tools abstract away the coding, there’s still some configuration required. But no-code products like Bubble take it a step further. You can build full-stack web apps using just drag-and-drop, design templates and simple logic rules—no coding skills are needed!
Of course, these tools have limits around flexibility and scalability. Complex apps still require engineering talent. However, low-code/no-code democratizes app development for non-technical users. We’ll likely see these platforms grow in popularity for developing MVPs and simple productivity apps.
Blockchain: The Trust Machine
Blockchain’s decentralized, distributed ledger technology lets you have transactions but no central authority. Because blockchains are shared across a peer-to-peer network, a single entity can’t monopolize control. Participants check and validate each other’s work, creating trust.
For example, a blockchain-based supply chain app lets you trace an item’s journey from origin to store with complete transparency. Since entries are immutable and tamper-evident, you minimize fraud.
Smart contracts are another big use case. These are codes that execute automatically based on predefined rules. For instance, an artist could sell limited edition albums that transfer directly to buyers’ wallets once payment is processed. No middleman is required!
Despite the hype, blockchain remains immature. Challenges around scalability, speed, energy usage and governance must be resolved. But if these concerns are addressed, blockchains could underpin the next generation of world-changing decentralized software applications.
Tiny Computers, Big Opportunities
With the Internet of Things (IoT), everyday objects like cars, coffee makers and lights get embedded with sensors and connectivity. This unlocks data that can help optimize processes and improve experiences.
Developers need to build software that extracts insights from device data in real-time. For example, IoT sensors in a wearable fitness tracker identify patterns in your activity and sleep. The software recommends personalized health tips and detects emerging problems early.
But IoT development has its challenges. You need to account for intermittent connectivity, battery life constraints and limited processing capabilities on devices. Standards and protocols are still fragmented. Securing millions of endpoints is tricky business.
However, frameworks like AWS IoT Core and Azure IoT Hub simplify device connectivity and management. Overall, IoT will drive a shift towards event-driven, asynchronous and decentralized software architectures. The opportunities for innovation are limitless as IoT products proliferate.
PWAs: Bridging Web and Mobile
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) deliver an app-like user experience on the web. For example, Tinder’s web app loads nearly instantly. Users can also chat and swipe online or offline.
PWAs utilize modern browser capabilities like push notifications, background sync and installable home screens. Frameworks like Vue.js and React make it easy to build these experiences while sharing code across platforms.
Of course, native apps won’t disappear overnight. Performance-intensive games and complex enterprise apps still require native builds. But for most applications, PWAs will become the default delivering a fast, seamless experience across devices.
The Future is Agile
Waterfall development with long release cycles struggles to keep pace with today’s demands. The answer? DevOps practices paired with agile software development methodologies like Scrum and Kanban.
DevOps brings developers and ops teams together to own the full delivery pipeline. Leveraging CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous deployment) tools like Jenkins and Spinnaker, teams release updates in hours rather than months. Peer code reviews and automated testing reduce bugs escaping to production.
This culture of collaboration, automation and rapid experimentation is key to achieving speed, quality and customer alignment. While moving to DevOps has a learning curve, companies will find it essential to compete on responsiveness.
Exploring New Digital Frontiers
Emerging immersive technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have moved past the hype phase into practical business applications. For example, Lowe’s uses VR to help customers visualize home improvement projects before committing. Medical students learn anatomy via AR simulations.
Developing AR/VR experiences requires skills like 3D graphics, physics engines and spatial computing. Challenges around hardware limitations and motion sickness need solving. But as headsets improve and programmers get upskilled, these technologies will open portals to amazing new digital worlds.
Clearly, these are revolutionary times in software development! To stay employable as coders, we must become versatile learners and keep rebuilding our skillsets. Of course, learning new languages and workflows always feels uncomfortable initially.
But those who embrace continuous learning will have the most success shaping what comes next. Are you ready to expand your capabilities and guide software innovation in this new frontier? Partner with a reliable software development company, as the future won’t build itself after all! It pays to be curious and have a pioneer’s mindset in this fast-moving field.
So get learning, start experimenting with these new trends on side projects, and don’t be afraid to fail forward. The software industry will sure look different in 10 years. But by mastering emerging technologies now, you can guarantee you’ll still be writing the future.