10 software development trends for 2021

Olivia Cuthbert
6 min readMar 4, 2021


In which direction is software development heading in the second half of 2021? This year is different from all the others. The contemporary crisis has changed the world upside down, forcing companies to face new technological challenges and rethink their digital strategies. Digital has become the most important (and in some cases the only) channel for interacting and engaging with customers. Consequently, companies planning digital projects in the next three years need to accelerate their initiatives.

In this unique historical moment, software development has never been more important, and developers play a critical role in business innovation. Companies are leveraging developers’ problem-solving skills to differentiate themselves by building and delivering more applications that improve performance and customer experience.

Here are ten trends in software development that will help businesses become more competitive in this new era.

#1: AI-powered Growth.

Several development businesses have added AI capabilities to improve the speed and ease of development. In OutSystems’ case, we are seamlessly integrating AI into the user and developer experience with AIFusion™.

AIFusion guides developers to avoid getting stuck, review code, and increase speed. Developers save time building new apps or modifying existing ones by leveraging the experience of more than 15 million anonymous templates and apps that tell them what to add to logical threads. It also recognizes when a developer is stuck and provides timely help, advice, and insight directly in the platform so that the process is not interrupted.

AIFusion ensures that the AI acts as a mentor to the developers. It watches what each developer is trying to do and provides support along the way. With AI, new developers, both amateur and advanced, become more proficient.

#2: AI for apps

The use of AI is now a competitive differentiator. It can speed up results, enable more informed decision-making and provide customers with more relevant and meaningful experiences. There is, therefore, no denying that the use of AI to support business processes and CX will grow significantly.

Businesses large and small, from tech giants like Microsoft to startups like Narrative Science, are making great strides in this area of software development, and OutSystems is no exception. The ability to easily add advanced AI capabilities to projects is critical in the second half of 2021. OutSystems’ application portfolio includes AI that covers the most common applications, enabling developers to innovate and increase their applications’ business value.

#3: Robotic Process Automation

Many companies are using RPPs to achieve greater efficiency. In particular, they use RPPs to complete repetitive tasks that are better suited to machines than humans. Examples include renegotiating contracts or onboarding employees. They also use RPAs to supplement the speed and volume of work done by humans.

But the most significant value of RPA is that automation and robots give everyone the freedom to be more strategic and drive innovation.

#4: Progressive Web Applications

PWAs are very trendy these days. This type of app combines the functionality of native apps and access to the web without having to go through app shops. Same native apps, PWAs can work offline, send push notifications, and access equipment like cameras and GPS. The user experience is identical to native apps on mobile and desktop devices, without the hassle of downloading and updating.

PWAs can continue to develop faster than native apps and are easier to maintain. Unlike native apps, they use a single code base for all devices, are searchable by search engines, and are lightweight (often less than 1 MB). Because they are light, they take up less space on a mobile device.

#5: Ongoing Integration and Deployment

CI/CD allows IT teams to automate integrating and testing changes as they occur, which speeds up changing software in the production environment and improves deployment feedback. As a result, they detect problems early in the development process and can react quickly.

If digitization is the new standard, CI/CD can significantly impact your IT team by speeding up delivery cycles and user experience by accelerating change and feedback. Learn more about CI/CD automation and DevOps in these articles.

#6: Rapid Prototyping and Innovation

Disruptors know that innovation can come from anywhere in their organization; they encourage and even reward their employees accordingly. More other firms will follow the series because they will happen after their contenders advance to restrict innovation to a few people or a single department. To spur innovation, many companies are increasingly turning to technologies such as low-code platforms and prototyping tools. These technologies quickly turn ideas into demos, minimum value products (MVP), or even full-fledged applications.

#7: Enablers of Digital Transformation.

In today’s world, businesses are under pressure to digitize everything they can — from operations to customer service. Digital transformation is the process of transforming traditionally analog and manual ‘things’ — human-centric tasks — into their digital equivalents. With digital transformation, the number of new ideas will increase and put a mechanism to turn them into profitable ideas.

Speed of execution is essential. While digital conversion is a multi-year process, contenders and disruptors are continually changing the game rules. To follow up with the market’s step, companies must invest in tools that accelerate innovation cycles and increase organizational agility. To read more about the technologies and approaches companies are investing in to accelerate application development, read the “Speed of Change” report, based on responses from 2,200 IT professionals and executives from around the world.

#8: Low-code development

Developers are skeptical about low-code platforms because they have spent many years in school and the field learning their craft. As a result, many doubt that

Can take the low-code platform seriously because building an extensive application has always required a lot of human knowledge and skills. However, whole groups of developers are now moving to a low-code system.

Not all low-code platforms are the same. Some low-code platforms aim at professional developers, some at web developers, and some at civil developers.

Enterprise platforms like OutSystems allow programmers to write applications an order of magnitude faster than before (e.g., hours vs. days, days vs. weeks, weeks vs. months, etc.), which gives them more time to innovate and tackle backlogs. They can also decrease professional commitment and avoid accumulating more in the future.

#9: “Future-proof” applications

New languages and applications always emerge commercially and in open source communities. Companies cannot afford to rewrite their applications every time a new technology comes along. On the other hand, they cannot afford to fall behind their contenders technologically.

Companies need to invest in platforms and tools that can help them protect themselves against technological change. Some OutSystems customers, for example, have gone through more than 14 years of technological development and innovation without rewriting their applications.

#10: New development at double speed

In many organizations, software development is proceeding at two paces. While one software development team uses tools to speed up application delivery, the other team continues to work as usual. While there is nothing ‘wrong’ with this, and there may be good reasons for it, especially in highly regulated companies, the creation of ‘haves and have-nots’ is likely to cause cultural tension in the organization.

Executives and boards notice the phenomenon of double speed and wonder why turtles don’t follow the hares. Some organizations and software teams are calling for the use of invalid code to speed up application deployment. Others, before-mentioned as wellness insurance company Humana, have made participation optional, with developers preferring to work on weak-code projects on their own time. These projects’ success has spurred funding for new projects at Humana, and more designers asked to work on new projects.