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The rise of developer-led innovation and evolution in 2021

29 Jan 2021

Article by OutSystems regional vice president for A/NZ Paul Arthur.
 

2021 will see more technical collaboration between business and IT, with more diverse and open-minded developers being key in driving the next wave of business innovation.

For millions of businesses worldwide, the pandemic has hindered organisational growth, flexibility and scalability – and the A/NZ region is no different. Despite coming through the pandemic relatively unscathed, whole industries, such as travel and hospitality, are still reeling. 

From companies scrambling to maintain business continuity, through to entire industries having to rethink how they can survive in this new normal, many organisations learned that inflexibility could effectively bring on an organisation’s extinction. 

Reflecting on a year full of setbacks and hardships, there are also many uplifting examples of companies pivoting to overcome obstacles, and demonstrating what can be accomplished in the face of adversity. This was especially obvious in the technology space, where developers often proved unlikely heroes by stepping up to create innovative solutions and reinvent the digital world alongside business leaders.

Pandemic business conditions will not last forever, and when the fight to the top begins in full-force in 2021, companies will have to ensure they are well-equipped to dominate the digital arena.

With so many organisations born out of innovation and the desire to improve an aspect of life or work, there are a host of experienced disruptors and inventive business minds who are acutely aware that, in order to stay ahead of the curve when the game changes, they need to rewrite the rules altogether. 

Pre-pandemic business operations are now history. From the tools used in daily work life through to the very way people think, it is critical to let go of the past and face forwards — starting with an analysis of which 2021 trends can future-proof an organisation. 
 

A new category of platforms will emerge as companies hit the limits of over-hyped no/low-code platforms

While companies flocked to a dizzying array of no- and low-code tools to meet development needs amid the uncertainties of 2020, they will quickly realise the limits of these platforms, and as a result, will seek out more advanced platforms that go beyond to enable their development teams in new ways. 

No- and low-code platforms are sufficient for building white-labelled, minimally-capable applications. When those apps become mission-critical, or when a new app outside of the narrow domain of that tool is required, they hit a wall and become obsolete. 

Companies will begin to ditch the less mature platforms they adopted as a band-aid in a moment of panic, and pursue modern application platforms. This will enable applications to be built and allow them to not only build quickly but build to the scale, security, and differentiation they need for inevitable future change.
 

Developer mentality will undergo a dramatic shift, from how it’s built, to what is built

Traditionally, developers have been heavily invested in how software is built — with near-religious devotion to their preferred procedural language and ‘stack’. This unreasonable fervour will diminish as the number of problems that can only be solved with software dramatically increases, and more development projects require business and IT to work together more closely than ever before. 

Developers are shifting their mindset to focus on delivering mission-critical solutions – regardless of how they’re made. Developers will open up to new approaches, such as embracing AI-powered automation that leads to less friction, errors and technical debt. 

Developers will ditch the dogma and embrace alternatives as they realise the outcome is the only important thing.
 

AI will deliver productivity for all types of developers 

AI’s role in the future of application development has always been tantalisingly controversial, with a storm of opinions gracing many a conversation about its potential. But it is becoming apparent: AI has the power to create far more possibilities than it limits. 

This year, AI-backed development will raise the bar yet again with increasingly strategic and innovative uses. Usable by both professional developers and amateurs alike to amp up their productivity, AI delivers heightened acceleration and accuracy in application building, and will boost innovation and creativity rather than hinder it. 

Currently at its peak in software augmentation and automation, the world is undergoing a paradigm shift, and developers will soon come to see that AI is an essential tool to have in their kit, one that allows them to push the creative boundaries of their jobs and innovate.

While there is now light at the end of the tunnel as vaccines begin to roll out globally, the race to innovate and seize the lead was triggered months ago. Competitors who underwent the trial by fire, reinvented their businesses and came out stronger now pose an immense threat to organisations who chose to maintain their traditional business footing. 

To stay ahead, companies will have to innovate boldly and evolve to face the next set of challenges as the new year.