8 Software Development Trends for 2021 (And How to Be Sure Your Software Keeps Up)

February 5, 2021

While each new year brings a fresh perspective, as we move into 2021 we are realizing that how we look at things has fundamentally changed. In less than ten months, work, education, retail, communication, hospitality, entertainment, and healthcare delivery have been upended. We also saw an extraordinary acceleration in the adoption of technology. Participants in a McKinsey Global Survey shared how the pandemic expedited the digitization of their customer/supply-chain interactions and internal operations by three to four years and the share of digital products in their portfolios by a shocking seven years. There are some organizations, however, that, almost a year later, are still utilizing the stop-gap measures that were put into place during a crisis-mode last spring, and they are seeking ways to fill their technology gaps. How will your startup be ready to take advantage of the opportunities that 2021 offers to satisfy the significantly shifted user demand?

Knowing The Trends

It is not news that things move fast in the technology space. Trends emerge and fade so quickly that running your business AND staying up to date can be a herculean task. You know that it is essential to stay on top of the technology that shapes your industry to be innovative and remain competitive. Here are a few ways to key abreast of the top trends:

  • Follow tech news outlets - Subscribe to tech news websites like TechCrunch, WIRED, The Verge, etc., that condenses the news for you, giving you high-level insights.
  • Read the latest research reports - Sites like TechRepublic provide research on a wide variety of topics, including software development, cybersecurity, IT, and more.
  • Follow industry trends on social media - Following industry leaders or particular coding language or development methodology hashtags on Twitter can provide you with vital information about trends in your industry.
  • Enable Google Alerts - You can set Google Alerts for any software development or tech industry-related topic, and you will receive news on current trends delivered right to your inbox as often as you want.
  • Keep a lookout for trends in open-source communities - Github is a great place to look for information about new technology trends and to connect with those already implementing them.
  • Watch your competition - By keeping tabs on what technology trends your competition is implementing successfully or not so successfully, you can see what your tech start-up needs to be adopting or avoiding.
  • Attend virtual (for now) conferences and meetups - Industry conferences and meetings are a great way to learn more about emerging development trends and meet and connect with others in your industry.
  • Listen to podcasts - This is a great way to expand your technical knowledge base, and you can usually do it while doing something else such as exercising, commuting, or even cooking dinner.
  • Invest in online training - No matter what it is you want or need to learn, there is a course to help you understand it, and often for little to no cost.

Staying on top of the trends won’t help you tell the future, but it will certainly help your team be better prepared to create future-ready, relevant software that addresses your customer’s needs for today and beyond. Let’s take a look at some of the software development trends expected for the upcoming year.

2021 Software Development Trends

Internet of Things (IoT)

Forrester predicts that in 2021, ongoing technological diversity will continue to drive the growth of IoT. They added that the COVID-19 pandemic drove businesses and employees to become more reliant on technology for both professional and personal purposes. In 2021, demand for new internet-of-things (IoT) applications, technologies, and solutions will be driven by connected healthcare, smart offices, remote asset monitoring, and location services, all powered by a growing diversity of networking technologies.

Broader Availability of 5G

While the 5G buildout experienced a slowdown during 2020, activity seems to be back on track, which is good news as the increased speed, variety of connectivity options, and wider geographic availability will only support the previously mentioned IoT expansion. This is critical as WFH, telehealth, and at-home-learning continue across the globe for many for the foreseeable future.

Need For Enhanced Cybersecurity

In a Forbes article, Daniel Newman shares that it is imperative that companies shore up their networks and upgrade their cybersecurity strategies, and expand them to home networks and mobile work-from-home devices. He noted that hackers exploited the coronavirus pandemic to expand their campaigns of attacks against businesses worldwide. A 238% rise in attacks on banks and a 600% increase in attacks on cloud servers were observed from January to April 2020 alone.

AI Stays In The Spotlight

No software development trends list would be complete without including artificial intelligence. Jan Gilg, President of SAP S/4HANA, shared that “In 2021, we will continue to see companies leverage data and intelligent technologies to realize smart, data-driven insights that they have never had access to before without a large-scale implementation.” Additionally, increased AI and Machine Learning capabilities will play a critical role in thwarting earlier mentioned cybersecurity threats.

Hybrid Cloud Architecture

TechTarget defines a hybrid cloud as a cloud computing environment that uses a mix of on-premises, private cloud, and third-party, public cloud services with orchestration between these platforms. This typically involves a connection from an on-premises data center to a public cloud. The connection also can involve other private assets, including edge devices or other clouds. The shift in remote working/learning forced many organizations into a hybrid model, and they are enjoying its benefits. From legacy on-site solutions to SaaS to a combination of public and private clouds, hybrid architectures allow organizations to create systems that meet their unique infrastructure needs. This flexibility will offer advantages well beyond COVID, providing teams the agility to scale and adapt to change in the future.

Headless Tech

While the first thing you might think of when you hear headless tech is the Washington Irving story and his character that chased Ichabod Crane into the night, it is not nearly so scary. A TechCrunch article about Nacelle, an LA-based e-commerce startup, explains headless apps. The site’s front end is essentially decoupled from the backend infrastructure, so it’s leaning fully on dedicated frameworks for each to deliver content to users. There are some notable benefits for sites going headless, including greater performance, better scalability, fewer hosting costs, and a more streamlined developer experience.

Native App Development

While cross-platform development is ubiquitous, native app development will gain momentum, especially in fintech, banking, or in any areas that require flawless performance, experience, reliability, and/or security. Native development ensures more control when these parameters are a priority.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

A progressive web application, or PWA, is a type of application software delivered through the web, built using common web technologies including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It is intended to work on any platform that uses a standards-compliant browser, including both desktop and mobile devices. The growth of PWAs comes from the fact that they offer users a full app experience with less data usage and shorter loading time.

While what is to come in 2021 is unknown, what is certain is that tech will continue to change. Your startup’s success will rely on your team staying abreast of the ever-evolving trends, integrating them into your development toolbox, and always maintaining a focus on creating meticulously designed products that are relevant today and future-ready for tomorrow.