As a developer, it's important to keep your skills up-to-date. We’re called upon to not only be experts in our day-to-day technologies, but to also stay informed of up-and-coming technologies. This allows us to continue to make the best decisions for our products and teams. Knowing the newest tech and in-demand skills is not only satisfying, but it also keeps us employed.
In this article, we'll look at five trending technologies to keep an eye on in 2020. These are technologies that if you don’t already know, you probably should.
1. Languages on the Rise – Python and Rust
Rust, a general-use language like C or C++, has a small user base, but that user base swears by its security, ease of use, efficiency, and speed. Rust is consistently the most-loved language in surveys, and over the past year has finally broken into the “most popular programming language” surveys. This could be the year that Rust breaks into the mainstream.
Python, on the other hand, is already very popular. It’s the darling of data science, AI, and scripting, and has continually risen in popularity over the past five years. Python recently passed Java in popularity in the latest stack overflow survey, and is the second most-loved language behind, you guessed it, Rust. You can’t go wrong adding Python to your language arsenal.
2. Blockchain – High Demand for Developers
Blockchain boomed and busted over the last several years. But regardless of the drop in publicity, the technology is quietly advancing toward real-world use cases in the background. Solidity (the programming language of Ethereum) was ranked as the #1 overall desired tech skill in 2019 on LinkedIn. Twitter announced it wanted to move to a decentralized (blockchain) platform. Additionally, even larger, established companies, such as Microsoft and Salesforce, are releasing production-ready blockchain products.
As complex and groundbreaking projects launch, and real use cases emerge in the marketplace, we can expect another blockchain boom. And along with that boom, expect high demand and high pay for blockchain developers. Freelance blockchain developers average between $165 and $255 per hour.
3. SaaS and PaaS Continue Strong Growth
Companies still don’t want the hassle, expense, and risk of hosting their own data and applications. That’s not news. However, more than just outsourcing data centers (Infrastructure as a Service), expect the add-on services supplied by Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) providers to continue to grow in popularity over the next few years (15-20% projected growth per year for 2020-2022).
If your company isn’t using SaaS or PaaS, there’s a good chance it will soon. Companies like Salesforce and Heroku will continue to provide increasingly popular quick-and-easy solutions for dev teams to quickly spin up products. It’s a good idea to become comfortable with the idea of outsourcing your infrastructure, dev-ops, and services, if you aren’t already. Take some time to learn what services are provided. You’ll give up granular technical control, but gain time to spend on your business differentiators.
4. Hybrid Clouds, Multi-Clouds Everywhere
Continuing on that last trend, companies are no longer using just one cloud provider; rather, they are moving to multi-cloud, using a combination of multiple providers (AWS, Heroku, Azure, and so on) to gain the benefits and geographical reach of all these platforms.
In fact, in a recent survey by Gartner, 81% of companies said they are using two or more cloud providers. Respondents to the survey cited a wide variety of reasons for moving to multi-cloud, which include the following:
- minimizing vendor lock-in
- regulatory requirements
- labor costs
- disaster recovery
- easier data migration
With these reasons, you will likely need to become comfortable with more than one cloud provider in the near future, if you aren’t already. Additionally, if you have expertise in more than one cloud provider, then you have a head start on staying relevant for years to come.
5. Artificial Intelligence Continues to Thrive (But Will it Hit a Wall?)
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been quickly evolving over the last several years. It represents some of our most optimistic (identifying hate speech, reducing fake news, autonomous cars) and feared (face recognition, deep fakes, privacy intrusion) advances in engineering. Companies like Facebook and Google are looking to leverage AI to help continue their growth and bring in revenue.
According to this report from Stanford University, investment in AI startups, the demand for AI skills, and the percentage of global companies using AI are all growing. That means job growth. According to that same report, AI job postings have more than doubled in the past five years, and now represent nearly 1% of all jobs posted in the United States. However, some experts, such as the VP of AI at Facebook, think these technologies are becoming too expensive and too centralized, and are about to hit a wall.
No one knows for sure. But wall or no wall, AI seems like a safe bet for skills that are in demand both now and in the future. One way to get started in AI is to learn Python, mentioned above as a trending language. You can also read here for a great overview on getting started in AI.
Don't Let Your Skills Stagnate
Development trends are hard to predict, but it’s important to broaden your knowledge. Don’t let your skills stagnate. Start by researching some of the tools and technologies we provided above, learn something new, and keep your skills relevant in 2020 and beyond.