Do you remember a time when software development standards revolved around quality, timeline, and budget? Those days are gone, and things are not nearly so simple today. Software has grown in sophistication and complexity, and with the increasing capabilities of the technologies we now have available to us comes a demand for evolving measures of success.
2022 saw numerous changing norms and demands. Among the many trends were a wider adoption of 5G, greater reliance on low-code/no-code platforms, the ongoing evolution of remote work, an emphasis on cybersecurity, a rise in dependency on the Internet of Things (IoT), and the growth of cloud computing. Of course, these are only a handful of the many notable forces in the software development market.
Many of these trends will persist in 2023. We will also see more niches and changing elements emerge. What’s on the forecast for software development in the new year? Let’s take a peek at what’s coming.
Top 5 Software Development Trends for 2023
1. The Digital Immune System
David M. Chess, a researcher at IBM, first introduced the concept of the digital immune system in 1991. The concept itself is nothing new. But there is a reason why it now ranks as Gartner’s number 1 Strategic Technology Trend for 2023.
The concept was initially described as a means of safeguarding technological systems against virus-based threats. Yes, even in the early 1990s, in the humble beginnings of the internet, experts in the field had cyberattacks on their radar. The idea of the digital immune system emerged as a robust and comprehensive approach to protecting machines and users from escalating cyberthreats.
If internet-based viruses were on the rise in 1991, it is hard to imagine the kind of threat they present today. As technology has grown in sophistication, so, too, has the nature of the attacks on systems. Cybercriminals have more and more tools to launch complex attacks on software and digital devices, and cybersecurity experts are scrambling to keep them at bay — and keep up.
This is why the idea of the digital immune system has even more relevance today than it did more than three decades ago. The approach combines automation, user design, thorough quality assurance (QA) testing, careful monitoring, and a variety of other procedures to ensure that systems and technologies are well protected.
There is always risk involved in any innovation, of course, and software development is as innovative as you can get. But with a rigorous approach via the digital immune system, users and businesses can safeguard their systems against existing and emerging threats, reducing that risk as much as possible, while simultaneously employing the most innovative technologies.
While no cybersecurity strategy is 100% foolproof, this is the most thorough approach to both understanding the threats present in the digital world and taking strides to secure tools and technologies.
According to a 2021 Gartner report on digital immunity, this approach combines five key elements — elements that will prove critical in boosting your resilience while delivering a strong user experience:
- Autonomous testing
- Chaos engineering
- Continuous validation
2. Cloud Adoption
Yes, cloud computing is a top trend in software development for yet another year. The trend began in the mid-2000s, and today, you would be hard-pressed to find any individual or business that doesn’t leverage the cloud for at least one purpose.
Forrester reports that “Among US enterprise infrastructure decision-makers, 94 percent are using at least one type of cloud deployment.” Hybrid and multi-cloud deployments head the list. The market research firm also finds, unsurprisingly, that the COVID-19 pandemic has played a role in cloud adoption and acceleration.
Naturally, with the rise in remote work and off-premises functions, more and more enterprises and individuals are relying on cloud services to access important tools, store their work, and collaborate with others. Would cloud computing adoption have accelerated so quickly without the pandemic? It is impossible to say, but it’s highly probable that it would have happened at a slower rate. At the same time, cloud usage was inevitable.
In the coming year, we will see even wider-spread adoption of cloud tools and services. Increasingly, software developers are creating products that incorporate cloud computing in different forms, helping businesses achieve more flexibility and greater accessibility. Businesses will need to engage expert providers to ensure that they are deploying the services quickly and securely.
3. Software and IT Outsourcing
With such an emphasis on digital transformation, businesses around the world are looking to ramp up their efforts and accelerate the digitization of their processes and procedures. And with that comes the need for experts and a more extensive resource base.
This is why, over the past few years, the IT and software outsourcing sectors have grown significantly. Businesses in the United States are recognizing that often, they simply lack the in-house talent and workforce to achieve their goals, particularly as the world becomes more and more digital.
While software and IT outsourcing is not a new trend, it is one that has become increasingly prominent. Some segments will prove extremely popular and important in the coming year, such as infrastructure as a service (IaaS), software as a service (SaaS), and platform as a service (PaaS). Notice a theme? Yes, the “as a service” market is growing, with greater investment from businesses across industries — and across the globe.
Automation as a service (AaaS) will outpace all these other “as a service” segments, with organizations increasingly relying on tools like chatbots and voice assistance.
Overall, Statista has predicted that the application outsourcing segment would reach $116 billion in 2022, with revenue projected to see an annual growth rate of 4.66% in the coming years. Thus, the market is expected to hit $145.70 billion by 2027.
With so much emphasis on remote work these days and high quit rates in the software development and IT industry, the need for technology outsourcing is escalating. Commit projects that startup outsourcing for software development will increase by a staggering 70% between 2022 and 2023.
Commit’s 2022 State of Tech Staffing report also finds that the reasons behind outsourcing vary by position. Forty-eight percent of HR leaders name cost savings as the chief benefit, while 42% of CTOs see it as the key to scaling quickly.
No matter what the motivation, it is clear that outsourcing is already proving to be a critical strategy in 2023, and this will only accelerate in 2023 and beyond.
Technology’s impact on the environment and planet is coming under scrutiny. We have seen the rise of solar energy, hybrid vehicles, and LED light technology. And while concepts like AI, cloud computing, the IoT, and blockchain do not seem to consume extensive amounts of energy at first glance, the data processing involved in making them tick has an enormous carbon footprint.
Remember that data processing requires hardware and physical servers to function, and this equipment consumes huge amounts of energy. While technology is certainly not wholly to blame for carbon emissions — practically every field shares responsibility for environmental distress — it is also our duty to decrease electronic waste and find ways of making our software and technologies more energy efficient and less destructive to the planet.
That’s easier said than done, to be sure, but with greater attention to this issue, we will need to find more ways to reduce our global digital energy consumption — which is currently increasing at a rate of roughly 9% per year, according to the Shift Project Report.
Fortunately, many businesses are making sustainability central to their agenda in 2023. Some of the ways organizations in tech have committed to reducing carbon emissions and lessening their environmental impact include:
- Creating and following industry standards with regard to the environment
- Partnering with environmental organizations and following their recommendations, as well as donating profits to environmental causes
- Focusing on renewable energy sources
- Conducting more research on the environmental impact of different types of software
- Improving the life cycles of the devices people use regularly to reduce electronic waste
- Looking for creative ways to study energy consumption, such as studying the energy efficiency of various programming languages
The focus will be on establishing and improving sustainable technologies. While many of these tools are still works in progress, they have great potential for helping protect our planet — and ourselves — in the long term.
Less altruistic — but equally notable — is another motivation for making technology greener: brand reputation. It hardly comes as a surprise that brands that aim to be more sustainable are more appealing to consumers who believe in this mission. So, as concerns about environmental impact rise, so, too, will brands’ attention to the issue.
5. AI Governance
No article about software development trends in 2023 would be complete without a focus on AI. The global AI market is expected to reach $500 billion by 2024, as per the IDC. But AI has received so much attention in the past several years, and while its power is continuing to grow, with new advancements in the field every day, this article doesn’t need to continue to repeat all the advantages of embracing AI.
Instead, let’s take a look at AI governance. This concept centers around the notion that AI is such a powerful entity that it needs legal regulations to ensure that it is transparent, fair, equitable, ethical, and well controlled. AI governance argues that there should be a legal framework for overseeing the application of AI and all the technologies involved.
There is a bit to unpack here. Computer algorithms do need to adhere to rules — just as we all do. But as AI usage has greater implications, many are calling for more regulation of the technology.
Consider, for example, how AI is used in facial recognition software and financial predictions. It has the power to make decisions about security and legal matters — even criminal trials. It can mean the difference between attaining a life-saving loan and simply not. The point is, it’s not just fun and games — it can affect individuals and our global society.
This is why it’s not like other technologies. And it’s also why so many people and organizations are calling for AI governance.
Some initiatives in this sphere are underway. The White House, for example, established the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Resource Task Force with the goal of democratizing AI access. Meanwhile, the U.S. Commerce Department spearheaded the National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee, which examines issues like AI accountability.
But questions remain, and that is why we will continue to ask them in 2023. For instance, how do we know that given tools are being appropriately monitored? How will we evaluate the decisions AI makes? How will we minimize mistakes and their impact?
Many of the tech giants are paying attention and want to be involved in these efforts. Google is working on developing a Responsible AI program, while Microsoft is introducing tools like Fairlearn to track the performance of its AI models. IBM is creating tools to facilitate automation in AI governance.
Darrell M. West, the vice president and director of Governance Studies at Brookings, suggests that there are six steps to responsible implementation of AI:
- Establishing codes of conduct
- Implementing operational tools that promote ethical principles and reduce bias
- Establishing evaluation benchmarks and metrics
- Creating technical standards for resolving problems in AI
- Experimenting with projects and incubators
- Blending technical and nontechnical skills in AI
AI governance is already important, of course, and perhaps we will see greater effort and action in this sphere in 2023.
What Are Common Themes for Software Development Trends in 2023?
As we say goodbye to 2022, we must remember that technology is ever evolving. While the majority of the advancements we have seen in the past year — and even before that — will remain in our consciousness, we will need to learn more about their applications and implications.
These are some of the common themes we should take note of in the software development field in 2023.
We saw a global pandemic upend our world. We witnessed how the Great Resignation transformed nearly every industry around the world. Now, we are bracing ourselves for a possible recession.
So, it’s no surprise that resilience is an important issue in tech — as it should be in every sector. Businesses in the industry are looking for innovative ways to address talent shortages and budget constraints, turning to solutions like software outsourcing as a key strategy in their planning.
Disaster planning will also be at the top of mind for leaders in the software development space. Businesses will need to anticipate and plan for a range of scenarios and possibilities. This will prove critical in making organizations more robust and resilient.
It is true that organizations are grappling with many obstacles, including reverberations from the pandemic and, again, a potential recession on the horizon. At the same time, the tech industry is not seeing this as a time to slow down their efforts. Scalability is still an important item on the agenda, and businesses are continuing to prioritize growth.
They understand that continuing to deliver solutions to people’s most pressing needs and problems will prove essential in helping them persist in the face of uncertainty. And they will continue to ramp up the face of software development and delivery.
Many of these items depend on strong security, too. Although not the only component of AI governance, cybersecurity is one important part of the concept. It is also critical for every other tool or innovation, particularly as cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their strategies to derail and destroy technological systems.
As part of their cybersecurity strategies, organizations will embrace multipronged approaches. Yes, they will employ experts, such as white-hat or ethical hackers, but they will also adopt cloud computing tools at a higher rate. They will always need to make security central to their IT, and they may need to look outside their organizations to find the right skill sets for the job.
And last but not least, there is user engagement — something that is infused in every approach, methodology, tool, and concept in the tech industry. Because while technology is, well, technical, it is still inherently human: tools that are made for humans by humans.
The whole purpose of software is to make people’s lives easier by solving problems. And engagement is central to ensuring the success of the tools that constitute the field. From digital immunity to sustainability, the concept of the user experience will continue to be central to every action and approach software businesses take in 2023 and well into the future.