What developers should look out for in 2021

Making any prediction at the end of 2020 might seem like a risky business. After all, this year has been full of the unexpected, and although the future is looking a lot less foggy, the world that’s set to emerge “post-Covid” is still being forged. That said, we do know enough today to take some informed guesses about the year ahead. Here’s what developers should be looking out for as they head into 2021.

Low-code and the democratisation of complex software

Low- and no-code products aren’t new, but they’ve certainly been having a bit of a moment. In 2021, we can expect to see the continued rise of the approach oft-touted as ‘democratising’ access to complex software and applications.

Visual software development environments are a great example. This modular approach replaces the need for developers to write code line by line, enabling non-technical team members to drag and drop the components they need to quickly pull together a working application or website. For developers, it releases more time to focus on the bigger picture. For employers, it means quicker lead times and less pain caused by technical skills shortages felt outside hubs like London.

Because of its advantages, Gartner estimates that the low-code approach will account for 65% of all application development activity by 2024. Within the next year, we’re likely to see more low-code tools that are customisable, user-friendly, and interoperable with other popular tools. As a result, developers will be quick to embrace them as reusable building blocks that can dramatically improve their own productivity.

How low-code can help to overcome the AI skills shortage

Richard Billington, chief technical officer at Netcall, discusses how low-code can level the playing field when it comes to AI skills. Read here

The customer is always right

One thing does look certain for the year ahead, and that’s the steady and continued march towards a digital economy.

To compete in a new, digital-first world, businesses must focus on providing digital products and experiences that stand out from the competition. The holy grail is to leave every customer with an emotional connection to the brand that goes far beyond the purely transactional relationship they experience elsewhere.

Personalisation and connected, customer-centric design are the best ways to get there – and that requires an ability to harness customer data and insights.

2021 will see the digital economy become even more competitive than before, and only those brands that have the ability to listen to their customers and constantly iterate their offering in response will be able to survive and thrive. To stop growth from shuddering to a halt, tech teams will need to ensure their colleagues have instant, reliable and un-siloed access to customer data, and an easy way to turn it into actionable insights.

(Server)less is more

2020 saw the IPO of data warehousing juggernaut Snowflake, the largest-ever listing in software history. At close to $75 billion, Snowflake’s market cap was so enormous that it was one of the first B2B SaaS companies to generate coverage in red-tops like The Sun.

The tabloid interest in data warehousing is unlikely to last, but one thing that will stay with us in 2021 is the idea that it’s possible to treat infrastructure – in this case, data warehousing and integration – purely as a managed service hosted in the cloud.

In the coming year, software infrastructure will continue to evolve. As demand for agility and cost-efficiency increases, there will be a continued push towards serverless, with more options for developing software without needing to buy massive amounts of storage.

Containers have peaked – brace yourself for the serverless takeover

Rob Greenwood, chief technical officer at Steamhaus, discusses a possible shift from containers to serverless technology. Read here

More companies will prioritise the flexibility of DevOps workflows, with workloads continuing to move to Kubernetes. We’ll also see a shift from pure SaaS products to new “hybrid” tools like Hashicorp’s orchestration tool, Terraform, as well as new databases like Rockset.

Looking even further ahead, it’s likely that pretty much all data use-cases will start to decouple compute from storage because it’s simply too expensive to buy both of these resources in unison.


The Covid-19 pandemic did not bring about the black hole of productivity that many had feared. Remote work has been put through its paces and – in the most part – it’s delivered.

Because of this, we’ll see much more flexibility in how and where developers choose to work. This should ultimately help to create a more diverse tech industry, opening up opportunities for those previously unable to move to tech hubs and allowing businesses to access a much larger talent pool.

These changes will also affect compensation packages. One approach that could spark copycats is currently being introduced at Reddit, where a planned ‘Work From Anywhere’ policy will universally roll out salaries historically reserved for cities with a high cost of living.

In the future, that could mean a developer living in Skelmersdale could earn the same as one living in London…

Management strategies must adapt to remote working — VMware

VMware released new research, which explored distributed working practices, revealing that management strategies need to evolve to ensure that remote working employees stay properly engaged. Read here

A brighter future?

This year has been difficult for everyone. 2021 may have its own challenges, but it also promises to bring light to the end of the Covid-19 experience – and with it, new opportunities for developers

As digital adoption accelerates, it will be the developer community that makes transformation possible. The outcome? Another busy twelve months.

Written by Tido Carriero, chief product development officer at Twilio Segment

Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice consists of the best articles written by third parties and selected by our editors. You can contact us at timothy.adler at stubbenedge.com