As we say goodbye to 2017, it’s time to start looking forward to 2018, and the trends in strategic application development that will take shape in the next 12 months. From augmented reality to better conversations with machines, 2018 will undoubtedly see some significant developments.
1. Artificial Intelligence
If there is one trend rising above all others in 2018, it’s artificial intelligence. Almost half of all companies are in the process of implementing AI solutions into their business, and some predict that it’s going to have a significant impact on enterprise decision-making in 2018 and beyond. For many consumers, AI is already ingrained into the mobile application experience (“Hey Siri!”), but it is still in the early stages of adoption in enterprise applications. Thus, expect to see more AI-enabled enterprise applications in the coming year — joining a growing field that already includes IBM’s Watson and Salesforce’s Einstein. These new applications will help companies do everything from send emails and create content to manage industrial manufacturing plants faster and cheaper.
2. Augmented Reality
For the last few years, virtual reality has gotten a lot of attention, thanks in large part to comparatively affordable headsets, However, in the summer of 2016, a little game by the name of “Pokemon Go!” took the world by storm, and today, virtual reality feels like old news when compared to augmented reality.
At the risk of oversimplification, augmented reality is an environment in which the application takes the real-world, physical environment and augments, or changes it, usually using computer-generated images or sounds. In other words, it’s a little yellow Pikachu appearing in front of you on the sidewalk — but you can only see him through your phone screen. Because AR is much less expensive than VR, and because it uses the actual real-world surrounding the user, many companies are developing AR applications to use in training and education, and as a means of prototyping and developing new ideas. Expect to see more AR-enabled apps in both the business and consumer markets in the next year.
3. Event-Driven Development
Successful digital businesses must be able to detect, analyze, and act upon specific events — for example, the discovery that users aren’t using features of an app as intended generally means that some retooling is necessary. With the advent of the IoT, AI, and other technologies, the need for businesses to have real-time situational awareness has increased exponentially. Strategic application development in the coming year is going to be highly focused on finding ways to do more “event thinking” and respond quickly to changes within the business ecosystem.
No doubt you’ve used voice commands to ask your smartphone or smart home device to complete simple tasks: Dial a phone number, turn on a light, give you directions to a specific address, run a specific program on your computer, such as Dr. Cleaner to clean up your computer. But when you ask your devices to do more complex tasks, it’s likely to run into trouble. These platforms are designed to communicate in a very specific and structured way, and thus cannot act on more complex commands. For example, Gartner Research predicts that by using a more conversational platform, it could be possible for a device to collect witness testimony describing the perpetrator of a crime and then develop a sketch based on the information provided. In short, this development switches the intent of the command from the user to the computer. Conversational platforms have already come a long way, but they are still developing – and 2018 will see significant changes.
5. New Security Regulations
Data security is a hot topic across the board, but 2018 will see it rise to the forefront in the application development sphere as well. Gartner reports that less than 30 percent of companies run security tests on their applications — but additional research revealed that 60 percent of companies have experienced some type of data breach due to vulnerabilities in mobile applications. Clearly, security and data protection need to be made priorities in application development, and developers are getting some of the push that they need from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that goes into effect in 2018.
A cooperative resolution from the European Parliament, Council of the European Union, and the European Commission, the GDPR places restrictions on how applications can use data collected from users and requires them to explicitly ask for permissions related to data collection and usage. These restrictions are likely to extend to U.S.-based application developers as well, making security a bigger concern for all developers.
While no one knows for sure what the future holds, it’s likely we’ll see these trends take shape … and new ones emerge for 2019 and beyond.