As another year quickly draws to a close, businesses will be thinking about the next 12 months and what kind of changes the new year will bring. With constant technological and societal change influencing the world of development, here some things that developers can expect to see in 2020:

User privacy will become a greater priority

Data security has become increasingly important over the last few years but this hasn’t really had a massive impact on dev workflows yet. This could all change in 2020 with the potential for new legislation to be announced around how to develop with the data privacy of users as the number one priority.

The implementation of GDPR hasn’t had all that much impact on data security even though its specifically designed to improve it. In the wake of so many high-profile data breach cases, it seems only natural that stricter guidelines will be put into place to protect sensitive information users hand over when they use apps and other digital products.

From a development perspective, this would mean workflows would have to be restructured to provide room for focus on how data is captured, where and how that data is stored, and how it is shared. The biggest challenge will be getting to grips with the legislation and any accompanying guidelines around what is and what isn’t allowed. 

For developers there will probably be a lot of scrambling to work in line with regulations if and when they’re implemented and hopefully we’ll see the development community coming together to share the knowledge and insights required to do so.

The development of more AI tools

In 2019 we’ve seen AI-driven tools such as chatbots and automated replies featuring more heavily in the development of apps and websites and this trend is likely to continue. A lot of businesses will be playing catchup to those that harnessed AI in 2019 but it’s likely we’ll see all kinds of new AI-driven tools emerging too.

Some of the tools we can expect to see in 2020 will be focused on improving customer experience and others will be designed to help businesses with the automation of internal processes. Many of these AI-driven technologies are written using Python, so we’re likely to see greater demand for Python programmers in development workflows.

The existing AI-driven technologies are still relatively new so we’re also likely to see a lot more experimentation in how they can be applied in digital products to achieve all kinds of different outcomes

Quantum computing entering the conversation

Quantum computing is probably going to generate a lot of buzz in development circles in 2020. In 2019 Google achieved ‘quantum supremacy’ with its quantum computer called Sycamore. The term ‘quantum supremacy’ refers to a quantum computer’s ability to outperform the world’s most powerful supercomputers by solving a problem seen to be virtually impossible for a normal computer to be able to solve, which is what Sycamore recently achieved. This has been a big step forward.

In the longer term, the impact of quantum computing will be as big as the inception of the internet in terms of the societal changes it will bring. In terms of development, we’ll see far greater returns. We’re currently at a point of diminishing returns with existing technology but the speed and capability of quantum computing will put us back onto the path of Moore’s law with computing power doubling every two years.

We’re still years away from the point where quantum computing will impact the way developers work but we’re at an exciting point where the possibilities of quantum computing and the new languages being developed around it – such as Microsoft C# – will be talked about more and more. We’re likely to start seeing some of those languages becoming adopted in development circles but it will be very limited adoption.

Final Thoughts

The development teams that excel in 2020 will be those that have the flexibility to accommodate and react to change. It’s important to ensure development teams have the agility to deliver world class products as market changes, customer demands and emerging trends impact the ways in which they work. Development teams are already beginning to skill share and collaborate across different teams and even different companies. This kind of cross-collaboration enables the best competencies in different areas of development – such as programming in specific languages – to be utilised to ensure the best digital products are being delivered and we can expect to see more of this in the coming years.