Three trends in business app development you need to be aware of

Disruption! Transformation! The future is upon us, application architects.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor
This isn't really what business applications look like, but let's go with it. (Illustration: Andrey Prokhorov/iStockPhoto)

Listen up, enterprise architects or anyone responsible for application delivery in their company: there are trends afoot. 

Yes, trends.

Ten of them, in fact.

In all seriousness, market research firm Forrester published a new report on Monday outlining its predictions for how business application deployment will change in the near future. It's worth a read if this is a major part of your job.

Three of our favorite trends (there are 10 total):

Cloud deployment models are changing the economics of applications. "Traditional on-premises applications are tapped out," the report's authors write. "Software upgrades have become so costly and difficult that most customers defer them for years, sometimes even for a decade." And it only gets worse with customization. In the future? Software-as-a-service (or "SaaS") models, of course, which offer a flexibility, stability and scalability (how's that for -ilities?) that the on-prem model does not. Adoption will vary by industry—financial institutions will remain hesistant, for example, given security concerns—but it won't be long before most enterprises have as-a-service in the mix. (If not already.)

User experience is improving. "Early business apps captured data using bland, character-based screens with rows of input fields in systems such as teller workstations in early core banking systems or in HR or retail apps," the report's authors write. Colors, drop-down lists, icons, and other basic features didn't help. "Millennials [will] reject experiences that fall short of the high expectations set by consumer apps, so vendors are delivering new user experiences with rich graphical features that embed analytics, decision support, offers, and direct customer interactions." In other words, with the basics down, there's more focus today on business outcome. Though the authors warn: "Rich, interactive user experiences make for great demos—but they must deliver tangible business value to be truly competitive."

Componentization supporting smart functionality. Efficiency dictates that a common system is ideal from a development and maintenance point of view, yet lines of business know that they need customization to themselves work most efficiently. The answer is componentization, which "will enable app delivery teams to blend the best elements of custom-built apps and components and off-the shelf-components for functions such as loan origination and know-your-customer apps." That even extends to smaller firms, which tend to use prepackaged business apps. "They will break today's pattern," the authors write. "This will enable the economies of scale needed for integrated, flexible, easy-to-use, and quick-to-deploy business apps." And they'll presumably be more competitive, too.

That's not all, of course—for the word on social collaboration and elastic computing and big data analytics, you'll have to read Forrester's full report.

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