Top Product Development Trends In 2021

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has heralded – all thanks to the advancement in technology. Businesses in this industry 4.0 have become more advanced than ever. They’re using the latest technologies in their products, bringing the best teams from across the world, and religiously studying the latest product development trends to stay competitive in the ever-evolving ecosystem.

We can say the same thing for almost every single year! However, 2020 was different! It was volatile! It was exciting! It was scary! And it was challenging for all walks of life.

2020 saw a digital revolution like no year. The majority of the business either upgraded their existing business to the digital ecosystem or infused their existing products with the latest techs to make it even more effective. Many even shifted their entire business model to digital to stay relevant in the digital-first world after the physical lockdown.

With just some time left for us to enter 2021, let’s see what the year has in store for the business concerning product development. But before we delve into the trends, let’s first warm-up our minds by understanding the process of product development.

Understanding What Is Product Development

A product can be anything. It could be the machine you use, the clothes you wear, the football you use to play, the phone you use, or anything around you that you can touch and use physically. However, these are all tangible products!

There is another set of products- the intangible products or software products. These are the browser you are using to read this article, the applications that you have in your smartphones, or the software that makes any process so much easier in the virtual world.

Today, almost every business has a software product. Enterprises use products (enterprise software) to satisfy their business needs. Startups launch software products to solve real-world problems. Similarly, businesses build and develop products for communication, collaboration, computation, marketing, and whatnot.

It goes without saying that software has become an inseparable part of our existence and effective development plays a crucial role in how the product turns out. By product development, here, we mean transforming a product idea into a digital reality. Companies start by having a product idea; a market need!

Then they bring together a strong product development team of software engineers, developers, project managers, QA engineers, and technology specialists. Only then does the main development starts. Using best coding practices and a systematic software development process, the team builds the software from scratch, integrating an amalgamation of legacy languages and the latest technologies.

Top Product Development Trends

With software and digital products being the new norm in every business vertical, a new product is launched every minute. And each new one surpasses the features and experience offered by the last one; making the ecosystem more robust and dynamic than ever before. The product developing aficionados and the futurologists keep analyzing the current scenario to predict new trends for the industry for the coming times. Here, we have listed down the top trends that will help you leap into the future and gain a competitive advantage.

Data Driving All Aspects Of Product

How big is the big data? If you ask us, we would probably say it’s as vast as the universe today. People are uploading 100 terabytes of data each day on Facebook. More than 40,000 searches are made on Google each second. Smart devices are producing 5 quintillion bytes of data each day. And that’s just the surface picture.

With your website, business product, CMS, email, advertisements, and other marketing initiatives/campaigns gathering real customer data, all businesses are bombarded with loads of data. Instead of letting this prestigious collection go to waste, businesses are starting to leverage this into building more data-driven products.

Data

Be it strategic decision making of the product, prioritizing the product features, or planning its monetization strategy, being data-driven can ensure greater success.

Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, and Machine Intelligence together can form different tools for monitoring and mining the data collected through each source and even through human-machine interaction. This data can be analyzed using smart data analytics tools to improvise all aspects of the product.

The business strategies can be correlated to the computation of large datasets. And for computation too, there would be a growing inclination towards Apache Spark instead of the traditional Hadoop.

From just having an analytics solution, one needs to move towards analytics products. Once you have found the point solutions from analyzing the big data sets, you need to extract the principles underlying these point solutions for successful productization. Based on the analytics, the product development teams would be seen tweaking and repurposing the product with innovative solutions to solve real problems understated in the analytics.

Using Data For Innovative Product Development

At a leading nutrition and weight-loss product company, the product development team got together to build a software product to resolve customer complaints. They analyzed the customer data and applied the insights into the product. It helped them resolve complaints 30 times faster.

Uniting Best Of All Worlds With Distributed Development

Putting all eggs in one basket involves a lot of risks. However, distributing the placement across different baskets ensures at least some parts of them would be safe even if all goes kaput. The same is the case with product development.

By 2021, most product companies, enterprises, and entrepreneurs would be seen getting distributed product development. This means mobilizing many teams from across the globe to build one product with superior value.

Companies have been leveraging distributed product development to enjoy the speed, flexibility, and scalability brought in by different teams. However, post the pandemic, distributed development would become a norm.

This would be a precautionary measure by companies to eliminate any barriers to their product development in case of uncertainties.

By distributing their development to different product development teams or companies, they can ascertain continuity is not just development but also innovation through a multidisciplinary perspective.

As a consequence to the future of work (remote work) becoming the new normal in 2020, collaboration and communication tools have become more advanced. Thus, engaging with different teams will become more practical and seamless. Businesses can easily integrate external third parties for their product design and development for innovation in the new product development.

You need to assess different aspects of your product- the modules, screens, APIs, microservices, front-end, UX, CX, and much more. Once these are assessed, you can get in touch with remote product development companies, remote developers, or product teams to handle each aspect. In this way, product companies would be able to hire domain specialists to solve the given problems more quickly and with efficiency.

The third parties bring specialization in operations with distinctive capabilities to the table to increase the returns.

Moreover, distributed product development can help companies shorten the development life cycle and help launch the product faster in the market. So, 2021 will be the year of disruption via distributed product development.

Remote Product Development Becomes The New Norm

If 2020 has taught one thing it is that remote work is the new normal. 5 million US employees worked from home more than half of the working week till 2018. However today, almost everyone shifted to remote work. And this is not likely to stop even after a COVID-19 vaccine is discovered. It is predicted that at the minimum, 25-30% of the global workforce would continue to work remotely by the end of 2021.

To build resilience to combat the post-pandemic normal world, businesses would readily adapt to remote product development. While outsourcing product development has been a trend for many years, the coronavirus pandemic made it mandatory for the product developers to collaborate with companies remotely. The scale of remote development is slowly coming at par with the digital shift in the IT ecosystem and the results would be significant in 2021.

Remote Product Development

As it becomes easier for companies to adapt to digital platforms and collaboration tools, there would be an increase in remote development. Companies would be shifting to this way of getting their product built to become more resilient and prepare themselves for any such shock in the future. This would be in addition to the basic remote product development benefits like controlled costs, expanded capacity, multidisciplinary perspective, shorter time to market, and capitalization on the latest tech.

However, this remote development would also be with unprecedented times in mind. Here are some approaches that business leaders could be seen following in 2021 to emerge even stronger.

  • Remote development and outsourcing contracts to have disaster management strategies in place
  • Reduced human capacity by the product team to incorporate a more advanced and digital working model
  • Cross-platform development tools to be used by the product developers for a more efficient development
  • Cloud migration and distributed cloud migration to be on the rise.
Mixed Reality To Usher In An Immersive Experience

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have been the most popular web and product development trends for the past few years. However, most product and software applications were built using either VR or AR. But now instead of asking enterprises, entrepreneurs, and other businesses to choose between the two, they will be allowed to use both the technologies to offer an immersive experience.

IndustryARC Research has even revealed that the Mixed Reality market is all set to reach $9.982 billion by 2024 from $1.054 billion in 2017. New product development in 2021 would see companies trying to offer an immersive experience using MR. Especially for the enterprises seeking product development, MR would help them deliver an out-of-the-world experience.

Augmented Reality in the product would help the customers experience the digital content within their physical environment; Virtual Reality would help make this experience more real than the reality.

This product development trend would influence various sectors across the globe. Some of the industry verticals that would be exhaustively using Mixed Reality in their product development would include tourism, healthcare, defense, gaming, construction & manufacturing, architecture, etc.

  • It could be used for training employees virtually for real-world situations.
  • The entertainment industry would be seen using this combination of AR and VR to churn out more engaging content.
  • Even most businesses could use Mixed Reality to help their customers experience their product in the virtual world.
  • The defense sector could use this technology to try out their tools in a real-world-like environment of the virtual world.
AIaaS and BaaS To Gain Popularity

The software product industry is oversaturated with SaaS, PaaS, and even IaaS products. Many businesses have succeeded by developing software as a service but now it’s time to let the latest technologies usher in as a service. By 2021, we will see more Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) and Artificial Intelligence as a Service (AIaaS).

Many businesses are already leading the tech sector with Artificial Intelligence and BlockChain. In the coming year, the majority of the other businesses, be it big or small, would be experimenting with BlockChain and Artificial Intelligence.

Talking about BlockChain, businesses would infuse their product development with this technology to make the product even more transparent, secure, accountable. The future of product development would be largely affected by this technology. With security concerns scaling in the cyber world, creating BlockChain based applications for service would gain popularity.

Another similar trend that is gaining traction in 2020 and would become a rage in 2021 would be Artificial Intelligence as a Service. With Artificial Intelligence gaining popularity, it is predicted that almost 75% of commercial enterprise applications will be using Artificial Intelligence in their product by the end of 2021. However, while multinational and global corporations can utilize AI in their operations, most firms find themselves running short on budget. This is where AIaaS will come into the picture.

Big players would create products based on Artificial Intelligence as a Service to allow other firms to use AI in their operations. Soon, AIaaS would become popular as bigger players would incline towards creating a product to be used as a service by other players with slight tweaks.

Microservices Become Mainstream

Microservices architecture would continue to dominate the tech world in 2021. This would help in speeding up product development. Many largest market players in the digital realm like Amazon, Netflix, and Uber attribute their success in the IT environment to their swift adoption to microservices. No wonder other companies would be soon leveraging the advantages like business agility, quick scaling, and greater returns by adapting to microservices.

Creating a monolith of a product could be difficult to untangle in case there are any upgrades to be performed or features to be added. Breaking them down into microservices makes it much easier. There would be an increase in independently-run, language-agnostic modules fulfilling business requirements instead of the monolith architecture in 2021.

  • They need to split the development of their product in the right way into independent modules or else face the challenges of monolith clubbed with the complexities of microservices.
  • Product developers would also be focusing on the micro frontend instead of just the backend with a monolithic frontend.
  • Continuous integration and continuous delivery will become an integral part of the product development to take the best advantage of microservices.

Bottom Line

2020 has given a very staggering start to the decade. The pandemic has affected all walks of life. Luckily, the IT industry is one of the least affected ones. Most IT companies resorted to remote work as soon as the pandemic broke out and kept delivering the products using the latest technologies. They knew digital is going to be the new norm and the sooner they adopt digitalization, the better.

The impact of the pandemic would continue to be seen in digital product and product development even in 2021. Above, we have discussed some of the product development trends that we’ll see in the coming year.

So product companies, enterprises, entrepreneurs, and the product developers, gear up! 2021 will be an interesting ride with so many dynamic trends driven by cutting edge technology.

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