If software is eating the world (thanks for the prediction Marc Andreessen!), it’s a good idea to know what’s on the menu. With 2017 well underway, let’s look at the top four trends which are driving software development this year.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Conceptually, AI has been around for a very long time. Machines that can think have captured our imagination through the books of writers like Isaac Asimov (I, Robot) and Arthur C. Clarke (Sunstorm) long captured our attention and no shortage of Hollywood movies. These days, AI isn’t the stuff of fiction, but reality. Concepts like machine learning, deep learning and AI are being added into our everyday lives.
We’re seeing the biggest names in technology investing heavily in AI: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Salesforce, and Apple have been on a sustained buying spree (between them buying over 140 AI start-ups in the past 5 years).
Expect AI to become a feature of more and more applications, particularly as ‘AI as a Service’ is a reality. It can be added into existing applications to make them work more effectively and improve the ‘human-machine’ interface, delivering a better user experience and improved convenience and value.
2. The Internet of Things REALLY takes off
IoT has been around for some time now. Billions of tiny connected devices which will allow for unprecedented insights into how and where assets or products move, are used, or perform. IoT is a big deal for software development because it requires ‘any and all’ integration with existing systems and devices. It will also provide the raw material that gets software developers excited: data. More data means the ability to interpret, analyse, learn and apply – and some of this activity is likely to be supported by AI and it will help drive increased automation and efficiency.
Talking to a computer is a far easier way of getting it to do something more than typing. That’s the allure of chatbots; it started with Siri but now the boundaries are being pushed way out. In addition to Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and OK Google, there is a long list of ‘Chatbots you should know’. Air New Zealand even has one.
The good news is that creating and adding a chatbot isn’t difficult. Chatbots are available as services which, thanks to the power of APIs, can be dropped into existing applications.
As recently as 2016, chatbots weren’t a ‘thing’ in the public lexicon. Think about how that’s changed; through this year, we’re going to see an explosion of chatbots making things easier and more convenient. How much easier? Why not have a crack at creating a chatbot of your own.
4. Mobile, mobile, mobile (and Customer Experience)
This one should come as no surprise: we’re glued to the things to a possibly unhealthy level. For software developers, mobile is everything as people everywhere are doing business on smartphones, they are shopping, they are experiencing the full Web and all it has to offer. That means every website needs to be responsive for the many types and sizes of devices in the market today.
And the one final ‘catch-all’? Customer experience.
If software is eating the world, then the condiment which makes it so tasty is undoubtedly customer experience. Across the board, effective software today is defined by how easy and intuitive it is to use.