The Future of Software Development

It’s becoming more and more clear that monolithic applications are going the way of the Dodo. With the general adoption of smart-phones, tablets computers and social network portals users starts having an expectation that information is available anytime anywhere. Users simply don’t want to deal with booting up a desktop or laptop, login into an application, go to the right place to get the information. Its time consuming and inflexible. Users want seamless integration of essential data and information into their preferred social media sites and mobile devices.

What does this mean to the ISV that produces traditional applications? Well, if these ISV’s don’t start reconsidering their development strategy they risk facing the same fate as the Dodo. Actually, already now companies without a clear social media and mobile strategy are considered dated by the younger generation of users. New tech savvy users milling out from the universities and colleges look and evaluate companies on what strategy they have, and if a company allows them to work on cool stuff or at least there’s the potential to work on cool stuff. Hence, it becomes a huge challenge for ISV’s to recruit new young talent, especially the better students will prefer companies with a strategy that embraces mobile computing at the core.

And this is only the development side of it. Think about it, in the near future the next generation of users will also become part of the decision making process at the customers of the ISV’s. Making it a huge challenge for software vendors without sufficient presence in the mobile application market, to sell their solutions. There’s a huge risk, and in some situations, this is already the reality where a missing mobile strategy or adequate integration into social media sites disqualify a vendor in the initial phases of the buying process of new software systems. Personally I believe this will become an even bigger problem in the near future.

What’s interesting is that most ISV’s have the opportunity to actually provide interesting applications to their customer base, as they got years of data and experience in collecting data. They have a solid foundation for extending their offerings to include mobile and other interesting lightweight applications that can access the data and present it into different portals. Portals of the choice of the users.

ISV’s should focus their development efforts more on how to expand the usage to the casual users instead of the power users. Power users will continue to use traditional clients on their desktop or laptop, as they need high speed processing of huge amount of data. However, the casual user of the future doesn’t want to deal with these types of clients. They want immediate access to data on their preferred device.

Note that it’s not just about providing data and information but also about having lightweight applications for handling processes. Users will more and more be looking for applications that essentially do the work for them, and users only need to validate that the proposed action is actually the right action. Like flying a plane, the pilots really don’t do much anymore, they monitor that the software actually does it right, and they only intervene if a unique situation arises that requires manual intervention. That’s how all software involving processes should work in the future.

For us as developers this means that we also need to embrace the technologies and start extending our skill-sets to include mobile computing as well as portal computing (like web parts). Just as the ISV’s we can’t keep relying on our existing knowledge on building n-tier or more traditional client/server solutions. We need to start thinking in total distributed computing, multiply number and diverse data sources. We need to change as well; otherwise, we risk the same fate as the ISV’s – that our skills risks being inadequate for doing software development in the future.

#programming #light #apps

4 thoughts on “The Future of Software Development

  1. Interesting blog, I started to read this and really question whether you were correct, as initially I interpreted that you were stressing the importance of mobile computing. I then re-read this ensuring that I kept in mind that you were writing this from a development perspective. As such you are spot on. However, I would like to add that mobile computing is simply a means to an end. Yes, it should be an inherent part of any development strategy but it is simply another medium to provide ultimately relevant information on-demand.
    Is on-demand information the correct term, possibly not? The emphasis should be that the information is provided in an intelligent way making it easy for the user (casual or otherwise) to interpret and potentially act upon. Therefore perhaps the term is on-demand computing, although again (with my marketing hat on) that really doesn’t convey the fact that the application or gadget has effectively done the pre-processing for the user.
    Why am I hooked up on this issue? I think because there still seems to be a fundamental gap between all of the current hype around tablets, mobile computing and cloud based technologies and really what is required to help businesses actually do what they want to do which is run their businesses better.
    Let’s face facts; Apple really took the world by storm with the iPad and although some would claim that the i in Apple branding originally referred to internet, Apple marketing claim its referring to the individual. The marketing is still actively anti-business user, we all strive to be the cool dude in the Apple ads don’t we?
    Although the naming for most of the Android devices out there is relatively generic, the marketing is very much geared towards the younger consumer and for personal use. Just saw an ad for a teenager on a school trip who had a plug in USB device that allows her to use any of her devices, laptop, tablet or phone and access the internet (I only wish I had the same income at that age).
    RIM with their Playbook are sitting on the fence which must be painful, they claim the naming reflects the ability for someone to perform their business role by putting together the playbooks necessary to complete their role (think salesperson). The Playbook supports Wifi only so far, but this “feature” helps support security according to RIM and that it works automatically with your Blackberry device for enterprise support, meaning that if you can thumb thirty words a minute then you only need these two devices for all your requirements.
    My point is that of course we can see applicability to business but we must embrace this in both software development and product management and see clearly the business issues and requirements and not get lost in the hype. Tablets and mobile computing haven’t really helped with this yet, cloud to some extent hasn’t either with multiple companies pushing SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, you could be forgiven for feeling like a donkey as you try to make sense of it all.
    Probably then a better term for mid-size companies is how they achieve a goal of “Business On-Demand”, this I think will help to keep their objectives on track.
    By the way, at home, I use a touchscreen HP all-in-one with remote keyboard that I highly recommend as it allows me to work and play. Windows 7 for me is improving all the time and I am looking forwards to Windows 8 next year. So I wont be buying an iPad and will be looking at something like a Dell Inspiron Duo instead, I really don’t want to carry multiple devices everywhere.

  2. Agree there’s still a lot of hype around tablets, mobile computing and social media. However, for any company to stay competitive it sometimes helps to try to anticipate where the future is going by looking at trends. Something a lot of software vendors neglect to do. Most companies are reactive in nature, hence ending up in a catch up game – which very seldom is product innovative. Maybe trying to leapfrog the competition could be an interesting exercise – and yes agree – bold one as well.

    Note that I don’t advocate for totally sun setting traditional applications, but it’s imperative for any software vendor in order to survive to include the mobile and social media in their strategy as a means to provide functionality to the casual user, as they don’t want to deal with complex applications.

    Typically enterprises are slower adopters of new technology than consumers (IE6 is still widely used), but the iPad has once and for all shown that consumer products can find way to the enterprise, and rather quickly as well. Even business people like to be the cool dude ☺

    Could is confusing because nobody really knows what to do with it – yet!

  3. Yes, the better vendors need to develop a strategy that incorporates infrastructure that allows traditional applications to co-exist and work in conjunction with newer technologies.
    It’s still amazing to see how many of these extended business processes work in isolation from the core ERP / business management system.

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