To say software development is a rapidly evolving field is an understatement.
Heading into the new year, developers are being asked to grapple with a wide range of emerging challenges—whether they’re accelerating the product-development lifecycle or appeasing the increasingly eagle-eyed watchdogs that regulate data protection.
They’re also expected to navigate these hurdles faster than ever before, all while learning new technologies and innovating at light speed. Simultaneously, the industry continues to face a shortage of developers properly equipped to manage an increasingly complex software-development universe.
To help navigate a path through, we’ve identified some of the top trends developers should be aware of in 2023 as they prepare to address these new challenges and opportunities.
1. The changing role of artificial intelligence
Generative AI is the new name of the game for developers in 2023, with the release of ChatGPT in November 2022 opening the eyes of the public and business leaders alike to the true power of AI. Business use cases of generative AI are also on the rise, such as the creation of personalized product recommendations in sales, the generation of hypotheses and models for testing in R&D, and the production of content for marketing.
One common criticism of generative AI is that it doesn’t consistently produce quality results that mimic human creation—but that’s almost certain to change as AI becomes more democratized in 2023, expanding the data set upon which AI is trained and improving the accuracy and sophistication of algorithms.
On the other hand, determining the right dataset for AI implementation in the first place can present numerous roadblocks, including biases that originate from poorly constructed machine-learning algorithms and prejudiced training data. Scaling ML itself to train and deploy a performant model is yet another obstacle. AI is also facing more legal and ethical challenges as adoption continues to skyrocket, including the first class-action lawsuit against an AI that was filed in November 2022.
Developers can reduce their workloads by taking full advantage of AI-assisted coding tools that have already been designed to eliminate ML challenges while improving productivity, efficiency, and accuracy.
2. Cybersecurity threats
The tech industry has introduced many new capabilities and systems that reduce operational barriers and improve collaboration, including modern AI, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and more. Yet, new tools inevitably usher in new vulnerabilities of which hackers and phishers can take advantage—all while more comprehensive and sensitive information is available for the taking than ever before.
One of the cybersecurity threats developers can expect to disarm in 2023 is an increased number of attacks on cloud-based services as cloud adoption increases—and nearly 30% of organizations experienced a cloud-based breach in 2022, per Check Point. Other threats include attacks on vulnerable elements of increasingly interconnected business technology, such as the notoriously vulnerable Log4j component, and attacks stemming from Phishing-as-a-Service (PaaS), which has been developed by criminals to make it easier than ever to launch a phishing attack.
With macroeconomic troubles hitting the tech industry hard, developers can also expect to face scrutiny over the cost of protection as they grapple with lower budgets, forcing them to think critically about where to make security investments.
DevSecOps, which integrates security throughout the IT lifecycle, is one cost-efficient way that developers can protect their code stacks from unwelcome visitors.
3. Wider blockchain adoption
Blockchain is known to many as the ledger that facilitates transaction recording and asset management for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It also offers several potential uses for software developers in 2023 thanks to its decentralized data replication and storage, which improves security throughout the stack and eliminates the need for intermediaries.
Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) is on the rise, which allows developers to use Blockchain’s established infrastructure and build apps without creating a platform. Also available are hybrid blockchain, which combines elements of public and private blockchain, and IoT-enabled blockchain, which gives users more control over the information they share in a secure framework.
If you’re looking to include multiple organizations on a single blockchain, consider a consortium blockchain that enables all parties to privately share information.
Developers in the healthcare space can expect more of their peers to shift toward blockchain technology to ensure patient records are kept secure. Developers in real estate will do the same as they seek accurate record-keeping of land and property ownership.
Dropbox Sign also helps healthcare developers keep records and PHI secure through full HIPAA and HITECH compliance no matter where documents are stored.
More industry-specific blockchain use cases are available here.
4. Regulation and privacy laws
With big data comes big responsibility.
The bodies responsible for enforcing data regulation and privacy are becoming much less forgiving of organizations that fail to safeguard user data. Members of government and users alike are calling for more stringent tech regulation, and there are copious laws across different states and countries that developers must comply with—including new privacy laws in California, Virginia, Colorado, Connecticut, and Utah that take effect in 2023.
The new laws require most companies that collect consumer data to share what data they are collecting and with whom it will be shared. They also require consent to collect sensitive data such as financial account numbers or racial and ethnic data.
Ongoing rulemakings in California and Colorado are underway to implement regulations around automated decision-making, data privacy impact or risk assessments, consumer consent, and more. The laws also create new regulatory bodies for enforcing compliance, such as the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA).
Developers will benefit from creating programs that cover shared similarities between the five states. For example, organizations already compliant under Virginia privacy laws can expect to be compliant with Colorado and Connecticut’s laws as well.
5. Low-code and no-code solutions
Developers can also expect to see an expansion of rapid application development models in 2023, namely low-code and no-code solutions. These solutions eliminate much of the legwork of coding, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Instead, developers allocate their valuable hours elsewhere to more pressing and time-intensive work.
It’s no secret that more development work exists than there are developers to do it—making low-code and no-code an ideal solution that lowers the barriers for entry into the field and puts coding capabilities into more hands.
However, low-code and no-code users should be mindful of the security risks that present themselves when the code builder isn’t delving into every line of code in the stack. They also adopt a shared responsibility model with the third-party platform they use for development, which needs to uphold rigorous protection standards for optimal security.
6. The increasing rate of innovation
At the same time these trends are unfolding in the software development industry, developers are facing heightened expectations to deliver products that will delight users at a rapid pace. They’re also being asked to innovate products at a blistering rate to keep up with users who demand innovation—including the 84% of buyers who view innovation as important when making purchasing decisions.
One way developers can innovate is to adopt a more customer-centric approach—integrating survey data, market research, and user feedback to inform product transformation.
Development teams can also adopt the fail-fast method, which allows for freedom to fail while maintaining an understanding that each failure gives rise to a learning opportunity for future iterations. The method speeds up the feedback loop and enables developers to shoot for the stars, resulting in a finished product that goes far beyond the minimum-viable-product (MVP) standard set by users.