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Zoho 2021 Predictions: Low-code, privacy, AI, and more will re-shape software development

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

Low-code, privacy, AI, and more will re-shape software development

By Tejas Gadhia, Developer Evangelist, Zoho

The future of application development, like so many tech disciplines coming out of 2020, will be greatly impacted by COVID-19. There are four clear ways in which new work conditions spurred on by the pandemic will influence how and what developers across skill-levels build. AI, privacy regulation, low-code adoption for business users, and serverless solution growth will all be key factors for DevOps in 2021.

AI will help automate DevOps

AI-driven application development will become ubiquitous in the next year or two. Many aspects of DevOps can be automated and, over time, made more efficient using AI capabilities. Some of the key areas we expect to see significant growth:

  • AI-assisted development, which includes entity and workflow suggestions  
  • Data modeling and auditing
  • Data cleansing and maintaining integrity
  • Search functionalities across an application ecosystem with NLP
  • Automated testing suite with a focus on security and data privacy
  • Intelligent data extraction and processing via pre-modeled operations, predictive services, and forecasting tools
  • Process management and optimization

Data Privacy will play a larger role

Concern over data privacy is also going to affect DevOps in 2021. With the recent passing of Prop 24 in California, GDPR in Europe, even LGPD in Brazil, privacy regulation is on the rise. Developers are concerned about their users' privacy for their own applications by default, but they will need to be cognizant of privacy policies for services they integrate with and share information with as well. For example integrating an SDK into a developer's application can provide value for both the developer and the user, but there are obvious data privacy and sharing concerns with that integration. Apple, for their part, will be unrolling a new iOS 14 privacy feature for the iPhone and iPad sometime next year that requires developers to ask users for permission to track them and collect their data on websites and mobile apps. Increased regulation will change the types of applications developers look to build in the coming year. 

Additionally, remote working increases data privacy and security risks, especially in highly regulated industries. Data access controls and authentication forms will play a critical part in mitigating these risks. 

Shifting business landscapes will increase low-code adoption

The low-code development market has already been growing steadily over the last several years. In 2021, however, low-code adoption will accelerate precipitously because of changing business conditions. For the past eight months and counting, companies have restructured their businesses and sought out new growth strategies in part because workforces are more distributed than ever.

Increased demand for process digitization results in a huge pipeline (backlog) of application development requests, making the ability to respond to market demands sluggish. Now more than ever, organizations need to be nimble, which is not easy in a traditional application development set-up.

Good low-code platforms strike a balance between abstraction and control, which makes picking the right one so important. They empower business developers to build and update applications (adding functionalities or workflows) faster, without compromising the quality, complexity, or scale. For this reason, low-code app development and low-code platform adoption will skyrocket in the coming year. It is difficult to predict which industry verticals will see the biggest boost in adoption, but by looking at the user breakdown of Zoho's own low-code platform, Zoho Creator, certain sectors stand out.

Over the past 14 years, we have seen slightly more interest from verticals such as manufacturing, logistics, education, and professional services, where the contribution of custom processes as a differentiator is greater when compared to other verticals. In addition to these, in 2021, we also see organizations from industries with accelerated digitization due to Covid-19 leveraging low-code applications as a strategic tool to survive and gain an edge against competition. One obvious example of this would be the demand on developers to build communication and collaboration applications to support remote workers.

Serverless solutions for efficiency

In 2021, container solutions will continue to be a key aspect of development, however serverless computing will continue to see growth that outpaces the already established containerization model.

This is not to say containers won't grow. Only that their growth may be slower than serverless solutions. As with anything, it will come down to the core requirement. Containers will work well for complex, large-scale, long-running mission-critical applications, which need constant care and support. They can also be a perfect ally in legacy modernization. Serverless, on the other hand, gives developers elasticity or dynamic scaling, such that resources can be increased or decreased based on demand. This leads to cost savings, and will be a prime motivator for serverless adoption in the coming year. The key consideration here is the speed of development and cost of maintenance.

I see a development environment in 2021 that includes both approaches working hand-in-hand, complementing each other's strengths and weaknesses.

In 2021, we see DevOps rapidly adopting new methods due to the unforeseen impacts of 2020. Low-code platforms will grow in popularity and adoption to cater to business customization, cost savings, and business re-structuring. As privacy regulations become more common and data security education grows, DevOps will need to ensure that robust privacy measures are embedded. Lastly, the growth of container solutions will be challenged by serverless solutions due to ease-of-use and cost savings. With app development needs skyrocketing, we can expect an explosion of new DevOps solutions and methods to create efficiency and impact. 


About the Author

Tejas Gadhia 

Gadhia joined Zoho's Austin office in 2011 as a Sales Engineer providing demonstrations, implementations and best practice consultations ultimately enabling a wide variety of organizations to increase their operational efficiency. In 2015, Tejas joined the product management team for Zoho’s low-code platform, Zoho Creator, focusing on the developer network, strategic partnerships, product innovations, and sales & marketing operations. Currently, Tejas works on Zoho’s unified development platform, which comprises a variety of tools from low-code to pro-code that enable developers of all skill levels to build powerful solutions that leverage Zoho’s deep tech stack.

Published Thursday, December 03, 2020 7:20 AM by David Marshall
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