Thought leaders weigh in on what we can expect from the software development industry in 2020:

Adam Scroggin, CEO of CardBoard
DevOps will continue to be key as we move toward 2020. Software teams will notice more and more that once a product is released, it is not done. Software products are never done. We have begun to see more applications moving to mobile and web, which allows software teams to instrument their product to learn if customers are using what they released and how much value they are getting from it. Not all ideas are good ones, but getting out there and testing them before scaling will be vital for the next decade. Good DevOps practices have paved the road for ideas to move into production quickly.  

Monte Zweben, CEO of Splice Machine
“Cloud Disillusionment” blossoms because the meter is always running. Companies that rushed to the cloud finish their first phase of projects and realize that they have the same applications they had running before that do not take advantage of new data sources to make them supercharged with AI. In fact, their operating expenses actually have increased because the savings in human operators were completely overwhelmed by the cost of the cloud compute resources for applications that are always on. Ouch. These resources were capitalized before on-premise but now hit the P&L.

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Antony Edwards, COO of Eggplant
Technology is going to become increasingly regulated across the globe. Testing will not escape this, and by 2025 AI algos will need government certification. Testing will need to be able to guarantee that the system is safe to release, delivers the desired experience and that it’s ethically sound. In the 2020s, testers will become software optimizers. They will focus on utilizing intelligent technology to help digital businesses continually improve.

Scott Johnston, CEO of Docker
Containers pave the way to new application trends — Now that containers are typically considered a common deployment mechanism, the conversation will evolve from the packaging of individual containers to the packaging of the entire application (which are becoming increasingly diverse and distributed). Organizations will increasingly look for guidance and solutions that help them unify how they build and manage their entire application portfolio no matter the environment (on premise, hybrid/multi-cloud, edge, etc.)

Tatianna Flores, head of Atos North America’s AI Lab
In 2020, AI product companies will incorporate elements of reinforcement learning and wide-scale data sharing to remain competitive. 2019 revealed that highly specialized applications of AI geared toward industry-specific problems are hot commodities. Tesla acquired a company that focuses exclusively on object recognition, and McDonalds acquired a speech recognition company focused on languages. In the coming year, we’ll see even greater competition to improve performance in these popular and specialized applications of AI. Products will need to integrate reinforcement learning to constantly improve deep learning applications and stay ahead of their competition. Also, movement toward wide-scale data sharing will occur more rapidly.

John Pocknell, senior solutions product manager for Quest Software’s information management business unit
NoSQL will gain momentum. NoSQL hasn’t seen a huge amount of movement in recent years, but I believe we’ll see it pick up more next year, especially as people move towards fresher and newer data needs. While relational databases are good for traditional workloads like OLTP applications and business analytics (OLAP), for more complex OLTP workloads that include low-latency applications, NoSQL is better (versatility, agility, scalability). Ultimately, it’s a matter of getting the right database to suit the workloads of the organization, especially with the variety of structured and unstructured data in use.

Tim Tully, CTO of Splunk
2020 will be the year of the indulgent user experience, and that doesn’t bode well for the holdouts. Even as enterprise and industrial applications evolve, they’re not yet consumer-friendly enough for daily users. Enterprise software companies who are still producing dull user experiences will find it harder to keep their users loyal, and will be even more vulnerable to disruption. When it comes to enterprise UX, the companies that will succeed are the visionaries that design software to make people’s entire experience better.

Srinath Perera, vice president of research at WSO2
Cloud APIs will democratize AI. To date, custom AI model building has been limited to large organizations with the resources to tackle the complexity of AI deployment and management, not to mention the scarcity of experts and data. But now, cloud APIs make it possible for a few organizations to concentrate on providing the expertise and data required to solve a given problem, and then share or market the AI models they build. In this way, cloud APIs hold the promise to solve many AI use cases in 2020 by letting organizations of all sizes gain access to AI models provided by data experts.

Prince Kohli, CTO of Automation Anywhere
RPA will play a pivotal role in global data privacy and governance initiatives. The 2020s are shaping up to be the decade defined by big data – with the advent of 5G and the explosion of connected devices. In this new era, we’ll see even more pressure on companies to be fully transparent about the information they collect and how it’s used, with legislation like GDPR and the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) representing only the tip of the data governance iceberg. Additionally, as malware increasingly becomes enhanced with artificial intelligence (AI) to identify network vulnerabilities, intelligent, secure bots will be a critical line of defense against data breaches. 

Matthew Halliday, co-founder and VP of product for Incorta
Quantum computing applications will take off in 2020: Quantum computing remains in the most nascent stages of development, but the possibilities are fascinating – quantum computing unlocks a new world of use cases that were previously impossible. While we may still be years away from widespread use cases, the number of initial applications will skyrocket in 2020, as companies like Google and IBM join smaller outfits like Quantum Thought in beginning to commercialize their quantum abilities. As a result, 2020 will bring heavy investments in quantum computing applications from venture capitalists and major enterprises alike – the upside is simply too great to ignore.

Avon Puri, CIO of Rubrik
Data privacy takes the next step. It used to be that organizations had to spend millions of dollars on consultants to find out where PII (sensitive) data lived, but today there are a number of data privacy and governance technologies that can bolster

 and data practices. Next year will see an inflection point in organizations finally understanding more about their data – which will be critical to improving data privacy standards as an industry.

Jans Aasman, CEO of Franz, Inc. 
Digital immortality will emerge: We will see digital immortality emerge in 2020 in the form of AI digital personas for public figures. The combination of Artificial Intelligence and Semantic Knowledge Graphs will be used to transform the works of scientists, technologists, politicians and scholars into an interactive response system that uses the person’s actual voice to answer questions. AI digital personas will dynamically link information from various sources – such as books, research papers and media interviews – and turn the disparate information into a knowledge system that people can interact with digitally. These AI digital personas could also be used while the person is still alive to broaden the accessibility of their expertise.

Kirit Basu, VP of products for StreamSets
DataOps will gain recognition in 2020: As organizations begin to scale in 2020 and beyond — and as their analytic ambitions grow — DataOps will be recognized as a concrete practice for overcoming the speed, fragmentation and pace of change associated with analyzing modern data. Already, the number of searches on Gartner for “DataOps” has tripled in 2019. In addition, StreamSets has recognized a critical mass of its users embracing DataOps practices. Vendors are entering the space with DataOps offerings, and a number of vendors are acquiring smaller companies to build out a discipline around data management. Finally, we’re seeing a number of DataOps job postings starting to pop up. All point to an emerging understanding of “DataOps” and recognition of its nomenclature, leading to the practice becoming something that data-driven organizations refer to by name.

Michael Morris, CEO of Topcoder
So what’s the future of work? It’s the passion economy. Forget the set-schedule work week–the future of work will be driven by the “passion economy,” especially in the tech world. As the prevalence of open workforce models grow, freelance designers, developers and data scientists will shift loyalties to the work that’s out there, rather than a specific company. In order to recruit and retain people with coveted tech skills, companies will need to provide interesting projects for the freelance community that challenge and inspire them. 

Chris Patterson, senior director of product management at Navisite
Big data democratization will make everyone data analysts. Big data has been a buzzword for so long, it has lost value. But, in 2020 and beyond, we’ll see it begin to provide real, tangible results. One reason for this is that data warehousing tools have improved and are no longer inhibitors to accessing enterprise insights in real time. Going forward, employees and stakeholders – from IT to the Board of Directors – will be able to more easily tap into the data well and become analysts themselves. And, with the democratization of data, the focus will shift from how to access data to: 1) asking the right questions of data, and 2) identifying who within your company is best positioned to analyze and glean answers from that data.

 Maty Siman, founder and CTO at Checkmarx
Open source vulnerability. With organizations increasingly leveraging open-source software in their applications, next year, we’ll see an uptick in cybercriminals infiltrating open-source projects. Expect to see attackers “contributing” to open-source communities more frequently by injecting malicious payloads directly into open source packages, with the goal of developers and organizations leveraging this tainted code in their applications. 

Steve Burton, DevOps evangelist for Harness
DevOps Teams will continue to replace Jenkins. There will be a new breed of CI/CD solution where engineers won’t write a single script, update a single plug-in, restart a single slave, work late nights or weekends debugging their failed deployments. Instead, engineers will adopt Continuous Delivery as-a-Service where deployment pipelines auto-verify and rollback code, thus allowing engineers to get their lives back after 6 and spend weekends with their family and kids.

George Gallegos, CEO of Jitterbit
2020 will be a test for the integration market. The integration market is one of the hottest markets today, and we don’t expect demand to slow. But integration comes in many flavors, and while traditional integration offerings may work well for a small subset of businesses, the biggest impact and growth will occur in enterprises undergoing digital transformation and relying heavily on comprehensive connectivity strategies. The past year was marked by several acquisitions and partnerships as integration and API vendors scrambled to expand capabilities to support enterprise-class needs. 2020 will be a test to see which bets worked, and I suspect only a handful of vendors are well equipped to address all of the aspects of enterprise class iPaaS, and those who are not, will become even more stark.

Oskar Sevel Konstantyner, product owner and team lead at Templafy
In 2020 we’ll see enterprises ensuring that their choice of cloud doesn’t limit their agility and performance. While AWS, Azure and Google Cloud look very alike, they do have specific distinguishing features. Enterprises are moving toward multi-cloud computing to not limit themselves to the features of a single cloud. Initiatives like Azure Arc, where it’s possible to deploy Azure technology on Amazon servers, clearly shows how cloud vendors support this journey. 2020 will be less about retaining customers by locking them to a single cloud vendor, but instead convincing them to stay by being the best in some areas – and admit that other vendors might offer better services in other areas.

David Cramer, co-founder and CEO of Sentry
Tool and framework frenzy will continue; fatigue will worsen: The plethora of tools, languages, and frameworks are adding massive complexity to the application development ecosystem. IT teams are challenged to interconnect these disparate languages and platforms to build applications that are the lifeblood of business in today’s digital economy. And while conference halls echo with cries of tool and framework fatigue, there will not be a clear resolution in 2020. In fact, there will likely be more disruption. Although it seems React.js is approaching victory for frontend development, there are still a number of viable competitors ready to shake things up. On the backend, there is still no standardization, in spite of significant innovation in recent years. PHP, Ruby, Python, Node.js, Java, and .Net are all in use—but there is no clear winner and that won’t change in 2020. As teams struggle to connect it all, even more tools—many of which will be open source—will emerge to integrate technologies, but the challenges of complexity and control will get worse before they get better.

Adam Famularo, CEO of ERwin
Data finds a soul. Highly regulated industries will begin to change their philosophies, embracing data ethics as part of their overall business strategy and not just a matter of regulatory compliance. In addition, ethical artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) applications will be used by organizations to ensure their training data sets are well-defined, consistent and of high quality.

Alan Jacobson, chief data and analytics officer, Alteryx
The CDO role is evolving. The CAO is the new breed: The role of the data chief is changing, as is their title. The chief data officer needs to progress, and in 2020 the chief analytics officer title will really rocket upwards. It’s a manifestation that at last the role, and the projects managed within business, are less about data and more about what businesses are doing with it. The CAO is now a type of digital transformation officer – and in fact could just be termed a transformation officer – a sign that those in the role are becoming more tightly focused on what business success is really about.

Vanessa Pegueros, chief trust and security officer at OneLogin
With the convenience of what the iPhone has brought to the masses with facial recognition, end users will continue to expect similar offerings from most if not all applications in 2020. Although facial recognition has its flaws, the convenience outweighs the concerns for users. 

Robert Reeves, co-founder and CTO of Datical, a database release automation provider and the creator of the open source tool Liquibase
The adoption rate of new technology will dramatically increase, especially with open source. Just look at Kubernetes — we were all amazed at how quickly that proliferated. The same thing is going to happen with technologies like Spinnaker, but even faster. JPMorgan Chase made a public declaration of their commitment to Spinnaker at SpringOne, and we’re going to see more companies do the same. Based on this, CIOs need to actively explore these new technologies and pay attention to what their developers are interested in, as this will indicate the areas they need to invest in.