Summary: As digital technologies transform the business landscape, web development becomes increasingly important. In the near future, those who keep up with changing development trends will have an advantage over those who don’t. So, where is enterprise application development headed in the coming year? Learn more in this article.
As digital technologies transform the business landscape, we’re seeing web development become increasingly important. The research firm, Forrester, sums it up nicely with this quote: “The software you deploy, and especially the custom software you create, will increasingly be part of your competitive edge.”
Think about it for a second. Almost everything is web-based. Your organization’s ability to develop software applications for this web-based world plays a major role in your overall success.
How can your business use web application development as a competitive edge? The first step is staying ahead of the trends. Understand what’s coming, and plan accordingly.
Today, let’s explore that topic in more detail. Where is enterprise web application development heading in 2018? If you are a business leader, what development trends should you focus on in the near future? Here are 6 trends to watch in the coming year.
1. Developer focus shifts to security
A recent report found that 69 percent of web applications are plagued by vulnerabilities that could lead to sensitive data exposure. The same study found that 25% of web apps are still vulnerable to 8 of the OWASP Top Ten–a list of the most critical (yet fixable) application security risks.
Here’s the crazy part: Most of the security risks on the OWASP Top Ten aren’t new. They’ve been around for over a decade. The risks and fixes for each are widely known. Yet, many business applications aren’t protected against these common threats.
Why does this happen? Why do businesses keep creating applications with known vulnerabilities?
As mentioned in this article, many of the problems boil down to priorities. In some businesses, management places little focus on creating secure applications, and more focus on speed. In other cases, the developers lack the proper security training.
As data breaches become more prevalent, and the risks of ignoring security continue to rise, we’ll see the focus shift primarily towards security. As explained below, this will bring changes in priorities and training budgets.
“Software applications continue to be the target of attacks, and organizations are now being held accountable both financially and legally for breaches caused by unsecure software,” says Ed Adams, the president and CEO of Security Innovation. “Vulnerabilities are the mistakes developers are making, and training budgets for them will increase in 2018 as organizations realize they need to be more knowledgeable about writing defensive code for the various technologies and platforms they are building for.”
2. Progressive web apps gain ground
Proposed by Google back in 2015, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) have grown in popularity. As defined by Google, “Progressive Web Applications take advantage of new technologies to bring the best of mobile sites and native applications to users. They’re reliable, fast, and engaging.”
Essentially, progressive web apps (or PWAs) are web applications and/or websites that feel like native mobile apps. They take advantage of the host of features on web browsers but deliver an app-like user experience. They work offline, provide near-instant loading, and have the ability to send push notifications.
Why is this trend so important?
Since mobile apps first rolled around, businesses have faced a difficult choice: Develop native apps or mobile web apps? Native apps provide the best experience, but are expensive to build and difficult to maintain. They also require a separate app for every operating system. Mobile web apps work across all platforms and are easier to build, but can’t match the native experience.
PWAs offer a viable alternative to native app development. They offer the development benefits of the web combined with the user experience benefits of native. Going forward, they’re poised to change how businesses develop cross-platform applications.
3. More development moves to end users
Citizen development. Low-code development. Self-service development. While this trend goes by many names, there’s no denying its growth.
What does it mean? As defined by Gartner, “A citizen developer is a user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT.”
What’s driving this growth? We’re seeing it pushed forward by a couple of huge trends:
First, we’re living in an increasingly digital world. We’re seeing more and more emphasis placed on digitizing applications and processes to compete in this digital world. One of the best ways IT can drive this digitization is through self-service platforms.
This article in Zdnet sums up the trend nicely: “IT has at least one major opportunity left to lead the digitization of the remainder of our organizations. Trends like low code and the resulting citizen developer that it can enable are going to be one of the key catalysts for next-generation IT that unleash a new wave of local, more decentralized solutions at scale within our organizations.”
Second, there’s the need for speed. We live in an “instant” world. The modern business runs on the web. Users demand solutions quickly. They won’t wait months for new solutions, as they did in the past.
The problem is, IT departments can’t meet this development demand fast enough. The increased demand for both web and mobile apps has grown faster than IT’s ability to deliver.
How bad is it? Gartner shared this surprising statistic at their recent Application Strategies & Solutions Summit: “Through 2021 market demand for app development will grow at least 5x faster than IT capacity to deliver it.” The fact is, business demands on the IT department are increasing…but IT departments are still hampered by old systems, processes, and a lack of resources. This is pushing the need for self-service platforms even further.
4. Web applications connect to physical objects
The Internet of Things (IoT) has picked up steam over the last few years, and shows no signs of slowing down. Gartner estimates that 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide this year, up 31 percent from 2016.
While the consumer segment accounts for 63% of IoT usage, business usage is on the rise. Businesses are on pace to employ 3.1 billion connected things in 2017, with the number expected to rise substantially in 2018.
This rise in connected things is creating the need for web applications that connect to the IoT. We’re seeing a growing push towards applications that monitor connected things, and can analyze data generated by the IoT.
“With the success of Amazon Alexa, I believe that 2018 could be the year that the internet of things and related apps become mainstream,” says Richard Howe, Owner of Colour Rich. “As more consumers purchase the technology to control systems such as locks, heating and lights, there is going to be a huge growth in apps that can control such devices in the coming year. The use of remote technology in other appliances around the home is also set to grow, with in-built voice control and remote technology apps becoming much more established during 2018.”
5. Blockchain-backed applications gain ground
Blockchain is an interesting trend. It feels like everyone is talking about it, but very few actually understand exactly what it is or how it works. Even fewer are using it.
What is it? I won’t get into the entire explanation here, because that would be a blog post in itself, but here’s a basic overview. Blockchain is a method of collective data storage. Information is placed on thousands of computers around the world, not in one place. Transactions are verified using a complex algorithm, eliminating middlemen and guaranteeing accuracy.
Think of it as a decentralized, secure database that everybody shares. That’s just a basic overview, but here’s an article that explains how blockchain impacts web developers if you’d like to learn more.
While blockchain-based applications may not explode in 2018, it’s a trend that will grow and one that you must explore in the coming year. As explained below, it’s poised to impact application development for years to come.
“Blockchain is moving way beyond cyrptocurrency, with application capabilities backed with blockchain technology such as Ethereum (smart contracts) and FlureeDB (database),” says Brian Platz, CEO of Fluree. “These technologies can now power some entire applications, decentralized, without any application servers.”
These are just 5 enterprise application development trends, but the list could certainly be longer. If you would like to add anything to this list, I’d love to hear it. Feel free to share in the comments.