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Experts: 3 trends in software development worth following

Trends come and go, but AIOps and MLOps, spatial computing, and a low-code and high-code toolkit are the future of software development, industry experts say.

Software trends come and go, but developers can future-proof their resumes with these major trends, industry experts say.

Years ago, software developers could build a career on a single language, such as React.js, but that is no longer the case, said Christy Schumann, senior vice president of talent operations at tech talent agency Toptal.

"Nowadays, there is so much blending between websites, e-commerce platforms, mobile applications, cloud and all the pieces in between that a developer has to learn multiple languages and frameworks," Schumann said.

But while software development mainstays such as cloud computing and mobile apps are trends that endured, hundreds of others have faded into the annals of history, including LISP, marketing reporting software and storage tapes. This can make it a challenge for developers to decide which bandwagon to jump on.

However, industry experts say three current trends will stay the course: artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) and machine learning operations (MLOps), spatial computing, and low-code and high-code skills.

AIOps and MLOps

AIOps and MLOps, the application of AI and machine learning to automate and streamline DevOps workflows, are set to take off and play a key role in enterprise DevOps initiatives, said Charlotte Dunlap, research director at analyst firm GlobalData.

Tools such as DevOps for IBM Cloud Paks, introduced in 2020, give a broader audience access to advanced analytics that previously fell into the domain of data science, she said.

MLOps can also uncover more insights from data. "MLOps is being used to overcome the broader issue of what's referred to as dark data, i.e., being able to access, collect and organize the customer data which organizations have gathered, but haven't been able to leverage to provide meaningful insight," Dunlap said.

AIOps is a time- and resource-saver for software developers, said Srini Kadiyala, CTO of OvalEdge, a data governance consultancy. AI-enabled coding apps build complete automation into the software development chain, increasing speed and accuracy during the coding process, he said.

"[AIOps] is beneficial because it replaces manual IT operations tools with an automated IT operations platform that collects IT data, identifies events and patterns, and reports or remediates issues -- all without human intervention," Kadiyala said.

Spatial computing

While AI is capturing a lot of the public's imagination now, another trend worth noting is spatial computing, said Nils Pihl, CEO of Auki Labs, an augmented reality technology company. Spatial computing involves making applications more spatially aware, such as integration with augmented reality and IoT.

Spatial computing also has industrial applications, including quality control on the production line and better asset tracking, said John Marcus, analyst at GlobalData. But COVID-19 and climate change are driving the spatial computing trend.

Graph showing trends in spatial computing job postings
Spatial computing job posting trends.

"There was a big spike in demand for AI and IoT-enabled solutions that assist in space management, people tracking, etc., in 2020-21 due to the pandemic and social distancing/contact tracing," Marcus said. "Since 2021, corporate buy-in regarding environmental sustainability has also driven new demand for solutions that monitor indoor spaces for energy efficiency, and that has been given increased relevance in the wake of the energy crisis in Europe and elsewhere."

Making applications that react to and render in space requires new skill sets, mindsets and tooling.
Nils PihlCEO, Auki Labs

This demand means that engineers must familiarize themselves with the opportunities and limitations of spatial computing, Pihl said.

"Making applications that react to and render in space requires new skill sets, mindsets and tooling," he said. "Tens of billions of dollars are being deployed by the likes of AWS, Google and Apple to capture this new demand and the growing ecosystem of AR, VR or MR [augmented reality, virtual reality or mixed reality] specialists."

Low-code and high-code skills

There's always a big pendulum that swings between low-code and high-code, said Shiva Nathan, founder and CEO of Onymos, a features-as-a-service provider.

"From 'Hey, you can do it with drag-and-drop' to 'Only hardcore software engineers can do it.' Then the pendulum swings back and says, 'Not everything can be done with that,'" he said. "The balance is somewhere in the middle."

Right now, low-code is exploding in popularity, according to Forrester Research analyst John Bratincevic. But that doesn't mean the demise of high-code, because both low-code and high-code are needed.

"There will be a lot of code written over the coming years, and there will be a lot of low-code development also," he said. "For example, a lot of code will be written as components that will be composed and assembled into solutions on a low-code platform. Both are needed."

Forrester analyst Christopher Condo said he thinks that over time, low-code, no-code and high-code will coexist on engineering teams.

"There's a very high number of engineers that don't work on glitzy end-user e-commerce sites," he said. "Many work for internal IT creating new business enablement capabilities on those platforms, and those engineers can go much faster with low-code."

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