Summary: As web application development evolves, it’s playing an increasingly important role in the business world. More and more, application development directly contributes to a company’s competitive advantage. Where is enterprise application development headed in the coming year? Learn more in this article.
It’s an exciting time for web application development. Why? Here are just a few reasons:
1. Better tools: Never before have we had such advanced development tools. Modern web development tools shave weeks (or even months) off of development projects. They let non-developers create web apps. They eliminate the need to code everything from scratch.
2. Greater impact: As business increasingly moves to the web, development plays a critical role. More and more, we’re seeing applications development drive business innovation.
The research firm, Forrester, reaches the same conclusion: “The software you deploy, and especially the custom software you create, will increasingly be part of your competitive edge.”
In short, modern web application development can directly impact the bottom line. It can drive innovation. It plays a larger role in the business than ever before.
3. Powerful options: Web app capabilities keep increasing by leaps and bounds. Tasks that were never possible with web apps just a few short years ago are now commonplace.
The only downside: It’s tough to keep up. Web application development evolves so quickly, it’s difficult for businesses to keep pace. They may adapt to one trend only to find 5 more crop up.
So, how is enterprise application development changing? What big trends can we expect in the coming year? Today, let’s explore a few trends you can’t ignore in the coming year. While this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, here are some of the most important trends to watch in 2015:
1. The growth of the omni-channel user experience
When businesses first started adopting mobile apps, the big question was, “Native apps or mobile web apps?” Which option was best for business?
Now, that’s the wrong question.
These days, there is no such thing as “the mobile web.” There’s just the web. Users now browse the web on an ever-expanding number of devices. The growing challenge for developers: Delivering a seamless experience across all devices.
“The biggest trend for 2015 will be the omni-channel user experience and the convergence of mobile, desktop, and self-service platforms,” says Paul Burden, SVP of Software at Meridian. “The demand for a seamless user experience across all devices is growing. As users demand more of an integrated experience, HTML5 will become the go to in enterprise application development. It is cost-effective because there are an abundance of developers who don’t need a high degree of specialization. Since it is an open source development tool, it will continue to be improved upon. In general, omni-channel will be a driver for businesses developing applications for the coming year; providing omni-channel applications which can be deployed simply across multiple platforms will be a crucial task for developers in 2015.”
2. The explosion of development toolsWeb application development is becoming more complex. It’s evolving faster than ever. Developers need an ever-increasing, and ever-changing skillset.
The result: An increase in development tools. As development becomes more complex, software becomes more powerful. We’re seeing software that not only improves developer productivity, but also fills in the skills gaps.
This growth in development tools also creates another trend: More development has shifted to the business side. The increase in “code-free” development tools brings simple development tasks to the end users. Rather than rely on the IT department for everything, end users are now creating and managing their own applications.
“One trend we see is companies adopting code-free tools to allow non-technical employees like a product marketer or customer success manager to maintain and update aspects of the web application,” says Jackson Noel, Co-Founder of Appcues. “This means they now have the ability to communicate with users in-app without having to distract their engineering teams from building features for the long-term. Should this trend continue, it could allow organizations to work more congruently.”
3. The decline of native development
When mobile apps burst onto the scene, businesses had two options: Native apps and mobile web apps. Each offered their own unique benefits:
Native apps offered more features. Creating flashy, powerful mobile apps was only possible with the native approach.
Mobile web apps offered simplicity. Creating cross-platform mobile apps was far easier with the mobile web approach.
However, that’s changing. With HTML5 improvements, mobile web features are catching up to native apps, without sacrificing simplicity. With these changes, does the native approach even make sense for most businesses anymore?
“It simply doesn’t make sense for most businesses to invest in native mobile apps,” says Ari Weil, Vice President of Yottaa. “There are certainly use cases where a native mobile app could make sense – but for B2B the benefits are seldom real anymore. B2B consumers can benefit from things like push notifications and badges, but the crux of the engagement challenge is performance and a rich, engaging experience – and businesses measure transaction volume and repeat orders over time spent inside the app or app downloads.
Modern HTML5 and CSS3 capabilities are improving, legacy browser compatibility is becoming less problematic (and indeed it’s become simpler to apply polyfills to account for modern browser code that will not run in a legacy browser to avoid significant experience gaps), and there is a far larger pool of affordable, experienced talent to build apps that will run anywhere, versus forcing companies to maintain apps by operating system flavor and version.”
4. The growing business focus on user experience
In the past, business software focused on function over form. It wasn’t usually pretty, but it got the job done.
But, a funny thing happened when mobile apps and cloud-based consumer software became popular. Users realized something: Software doesn’t have to be boring. It doesn’t have to be confusing.
The result: Expectations have changed. Users expect simple interfaces from their enterprise apps.
What does this mean for development? As user expectations change, the user experience becomes critically important. Developers who don’t provide simple, intuitive interfaces will struggle with user adoption.
“The previous approaches of austere presentation and stripped-down interfaces in favor of basic functionality and raw transaction processing speed are giving way,” says Weil. “Because of the constantly-connected, increasingly mobile nature of business and commerce, Enterprises are increasingly focusing on mobile capabilities and the user experience overall.”
5. The growing need for integration and web services
It’s a growing trend: More and more, business applications live outside of the firewall. Sure, some applications still live in-house. But, others have moved to the cloud. Still others were replaced with SaaS options.
What does this mean for development? Applications must provide a way to communicate and integrate with other applications. This is why we’ve seen such rapid growth in application programming interfaces (APIs)–a trend that will gain steam in the coming years.
“Whether your business is moving some processes to the cloud or trying to maintain legacy systems, modern development requires integration between new and existing systems,” says Tyler Wassell, Software Development Manager at mrc. “New software must be developed with integration in mind. Software that can be integrated with existing systems via an accessible API and web services can ensure that the value of both the new and existing systems is maximized.”
So, what do you think? Is there anything you would add to this list? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments.
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