By Ramesh Loganathan, Vice President & Managing Director, Progress Software
Progress Software (NASDAQ: PRGS) is a global software company offering enterprise integration, data interoperability and application development including several others. This Massachusetts headquartered company has a current market capitalization of $1.37 billion.
In terms of fashionable technology, in recent years, businesses have found themselves consumed by chatter around a number of trends including BYOD, mobility and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). What these have in common is that they all represent huge steps away from traditional one-size-fits all business technology. The industry is moving increasingly towards more bespoke applications and strategies. Large enterprises have fully transitioned their IT functions onto the cloud and are now making use of capabilities such as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) to further enhance their tailor-made technology.
As such, it's clear that more and more people are willing to get involved and offer their own spin on the benefits technology can provide. In 2011, Gartner predicted that by 2014 a quarter of all new business applications will be developed by so-called "Citizen Developers". Gartner defines a "citizen developer" as an end user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT. Regardless of whether the prediction of Gartner will come true, it is fair to consider the future of the IT professionals in the development process.
Complicated technology is gradually becoming broader, more accessible and more comprehensible to the average layman. The rise of the 'citizen developer' is a prime example of this. The emphasis on complicated back-end function has transitioned into the business opportunity presented as a result. This is the turning point where all businesses stop adopting the same technology and start differentiating themselves by what they can do with it. Employees within businesses are now developing applications designed specifically to their needs, quickly and easily. With a PaaS toolkit full to the brim with simple drag-and-drop facilities and the ability to turn business processes directly into applications, business-savvy individuals can build apps to their exact specifications and reap the benefits.
Cloud enables this notion of citizen developers developing their applications. Earlier, one had to setup many layers to even begin building an application- from getting a server, install the OS, install the application platform and web server software, build the application, testing it, and then repeating much the same process in the production environment. One had to think about the programming language required, its access models and availability on devices; online, offline, smartphones, tablets etc. One needed multiple versions of their application programs to run in each environment and device. All this could be done only by a team of developers. But now, cloud has abstracted out most of this!
As this trend becomes more main-stream, the inevitable result will be that developers will have to be far better equipped in order to remain relevant to the application development process. As individuals become more aware of the potential of the technology in their workplace, developers will need to become increasingly business savvy to meet their high expectations. PaaS solutions will provide the armour developers need in order to deliver the most connected, efficient, relevant and timely applications to an increasingly knowledgeable audience. As individuals gain a better grasp of technology, so developers need to get a deeper understanding of the business and the processes that drive them. Except for large IT deployments, this will spell the end of long, complicated project documents bandied between managers and developers. Instead, we'll see agile development incorporating people from both camps, supported by a solid PaaS foundation.
Whether it is technology or fashion, the biggest danger facing individuals is the temptation to become comfortable in the status quo, or even worse, exponents of out-dated processes. End-users in 2015 will increasingly demand a tailored product and experience, for a one-size-fits-all price, whether it is on the high street or at their desks. In order to deliver, developers must invest in the latest tools and not be afraid to use them. If we see PaaS and other such cloud platforms as the new black, then client servers and hard drives are the technological equivalent of socks and sandals. 2015 could be a turning point, which sees high-end technology becoming accessible to the masses and, as a result, developers having to up their game if they want to add value in the coming years.