The only thing you can really be sure about in the software industry is that every year will bring changes, usually exciting changes. Often these changes are from unexpected directions and offer products we hadn't even dreamed of 12 months before. However, for 2015, we do see several trends on the horizon.
1. A Cloud rush. Although cloud computing and cloud storage have been around for several years, we predict that 2015 will be the year when average (i.e. conservative) companies of all sizes will start to see the benefits of cloud applications and rush to take advantage of this trend. Because of this influx of cloud business, we expect new cloud software and storage companies to enter the market and for pricing to become increasingly competitive.
2. DevOps becomes mainstream. We also predict that the DevOps method of software development will become the norm in 2015. This organizational style, which treats software developers and IT professionals as separate (but equal) functionaries and stresses communication and co-operation between the two departments, makes it quicker, more cost-effective and easier to deploy new software applications. We think some of the best DevOps opportunities will be in cloud computing.
3. Computer security will morph from hardware-based to software-based. As companies increasingly embrace cloud-based applications, the old concept of firewalls and other fortress-like, hardware-based security procedures is becoming antiquated. We expect new security protocols to develop that attach to the software follow it to the cloud and back.
4. The Internet of Things will become increasingly relevant. From a quasi-science fiction concept to reality in just a few years, the Internet of Things, the ability of machines to communicate with one another without direct human assistance, has come of age. We expect more applications to use this theory in 2015, whether it's to monitor your driving and make safety suggestions, keep tabs on your home's mechanical systems and security while you're away from home or alert you to potential business security breaches while you're off-site. According to a Price Waterhouse study, there are currently 25 billion "things" connected to the Internet. That number is expected to double by 2050.
5. A rise in cognitive intelligence applications. We see cognitive intelligence, where machines do things like recognize and act on human voice commands and make operating decisions independently using "human-like" reasoning, becoming more and more widely used.
6. An increase in prediction and analytical software. As would follow from an increase in "smart" software, we also see predictive and analytical software becoming more sophisticated. This type of software would look at historic data and make automatic predictions based on past performance. We see this being particularly useful for weather forecasters, retail banking and companies that sell packaged consumer goods. Such software could also be used to predict the odds of a hypothetical outcome, information that could be used in everything from risk management to law enforcement.
7. Even more mobile apps. And, finally, we see no end to American consumers' love affair with smartphones and tablet computers. According to Pew Research, 90 percent of American consumers have some type of cell phone or other mobile device and 63 percent of them use these devices to access the Internet and make buying decisions. We predict that mobile apps will get more specialized as consumers become picker about what they want to download on their smartphones.
While we're sure that there will be a couple of new developments in the software industry that take us (and most everyone else) by surprise, look for these trends to develop and continue during the coming 12 months.