2017 is behind us. It was the year of chatbots, customer-centricity, and — security breaches. We saw great things being announced and important developments put in motion. We also saw the bad side of tech show its ugly face.
Will 2018 be better? It’s hard to predict. We know it will be different. And we can certainly look into trends that will shape software development in the coming twelve months.
The Blockchain Craze
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding blockchain in 2017, and not just because the price of bitcoin skyrocketed. Blockchain, the technology that underpins the world’s (currently) most valuable cryptocurrency, has been getting a lot of attention. The financial industry is likely to be the first one to start implementing blockchain. Before we saw that, however, we needed to have blockchain platforms to facilitate development. And we got them last year.
IBM, Oracle, Microsoft — they all introduced blockchain platforms last year. Blockchain development is notoriously difficult, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see an increase in the number of apps developed on the platforms in 2018. And if you want a sure thing to bet on, it’s that the demand for blockchain developers will go through the roof in 2018.
Automation and AI-Powered Software Testing
Automation is a touchy subject. Some see it as the thing that will save humanity from having to do simple, repetitive tasks. For others, automation is causing a lot of concern due to its potential to create widespread job loss.
However you choose to look at it, automation is already here. Chatbots are automating customer communication in retail. In marketing and advertising, for example, project management software for agencies comes with integrated task automation. And we can only expect more automation to take place across different applications and industries.
Automated software testing is not a new concept. It’s a part of DevOps, the most widely adopted software development philosophy. However, automated testing is still employed by only around a fifth of software developers. With the capabilities provided by AI and machine learning, as well as possible combinations of automated and manual testing, we can expect automation to become a part of the dominant software testing methods in 2018.
AI Becomes Indispensable
Over the past couple of years, every person who owns a smartphone was able to enjoy some of the benefits of artificial intelligence. Every business also has access to at least some AI-powered tools it can use to its benefit. And many of them are choosing to use those tools to stay ahead of the pack.
In 2018, however, AI-powered tools will become so indispensable that simply using some won’t be enough to get a competitive edge. Businesses will need to use AI-powered solutions just to be able to run with the pack, not ahead of it.
Immersive Experiences Go Mainstream
Ever since VR, AR, and mixed reality were developed, they faced barriers to their adoption into the mainstream. Companies have been using immersive technologies for product design and development, as well as immediate support and training. But on the consumer level, the progress has been much slower.
In 2018, we can expect immersive experiences to finally go mainstream. The hardware that’s needed to run them is becoming significantly more affordable. The price of Oculus Rift, for example, has dropped from $599 to $399 in roughly a year. Both Nvidia and AMD have GPUs that are capable of processing VR — they’ve had it for some time, now. In 2018, the market for immersive tech is expected to grow, which means we’ll see more consumer VR, AR, and mixed reality content development.
Security Takes Centre Stage
There were few years when the Internet seemed less safe than 2017. You can take your pick of the many security breaches that happened last year. From Equifax to SVR Tracking and Whole foods, 2017 had its fair share of breaches. And then there were the ransomware attacks, with WannaCry and NotPetya being the biggest.
We still don’t know how many people and businesses have been affected by the security issues we saw last year. The number is likely to be in the hundreds of millions. With digital transformation already becoming a key buzzword in 2018, we can only expect that number of victims of cyber-attacks to increase. And while there have been voices stating that cyber-security is dead, the actual security expenditures are expected to rise. Some of the new developments we previously mentioned — blockchain and automated and smart testing — have potential security applications. There is a need for increased cyber-security, and developers should do their part in meeting it.
These are some of the things 2018 has in store for us. All signs point to the year being a critical point in several different aspects. It will the year cyber-security finally proves its worth (or lack thereof). The year that tech developments from the previous years become household names. And of course, the year that we see many new exciting applications based on ever-evolving technologies.