These days every company is in the software business. Fast, iterative delivery of high-quality software means better customer engagement and higher satisfaction, so an effective development organization is more important than ever.

But in 2018 software development leaders will face new opportunities and challenges as software technologies and platforms pivot into new areas where traditional skills, programming metaphors, and delivery processes no longer apply.

With our 2018 predictions published today, here’s a sneak peek into what we see ahead for development leaders:

  • Developers won’t just build AI, they’ll deploy it in development. As Enterprise developers get comfortable with the process of training models they will find that their AI efforts are also helpful in speeding up software delivery processes (but don’t worry – no sign of demand for developer skills abating)!
  • The next generation of platform programming models comes into sharper focus. All the puzzle pieces for the next generation of cloud-based systems are coming into focus. APIs, Microservices and micro-service delivery pipelines, containers, low-code and now serverless architecture combine to blur the traditional concepts of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services.
  • Demand grows for new customer engagement mechanisms. In 2018 we’ll see increasing demand for developers that know how to build augmented reality and natural language processing (NLP) based experiences. A short supply of these skills with constrain enterprise efforts, and put pressure on full-stack developers, who will find it hard to stretch their talents from end to end.

We think 2018 will precipitate a reckoning for many enterprise development shops, who find that they need to initiate a development shop transformation in support of the digital transformation efforts of their digital and business peers. There’s a lot of research in our Modern Application Delivery playbook that can help, and more coming as we adjust our research calendar to help development leaders close gaps in skills, processes, culture and technology.

It should be fun!

(This post originally appeared on the Forrester Research blog, which can be viewed here).

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