The best part about waiting until the last minute to post your tech predictions for the coming year isn’t so that you can copy what your favorite software pundits are clamoring for, it’s so you can validate your list as being necessary, and a true beacon amidst the countless other lists that are being posted by the hour.

I’m proud to say that Skytap has one of the only prediction lists focused exclusively around enterprise application development and testing—a topic certainly worthy of its own list. I spoke with Skytap’s best and brightest to get their prognostications and they delivered some real gems.

1. Big Data Moves Out of the Sandbox and into Development and Test

We may joke about big data’s never-ending presence on lists like this, but until

we all become big data experts, we can count on continuing to hear about it every day. But one area that you don’t hear about big data’s role is in dev/test environments.

Agile dev/test teams utilizing big data are able to achieve continuous improvement in ways they’d never thought to try. Why are these teams just now using the data in front of them? Because they can afford to do so.

Skytap principal engineer Patrick McCuller gave a great explanation behind this prediction:

The mathematics behind data analysis has been around for many years, but the tools to implement and use them on real business data remained arcane and expensive until quite recently. This is still rapidly changing, and we have still seen very little real use of it compared to the amount of data available. Other factors driving this are “second wave” effects, for instance: having seen the value of crunching numbers, companies are changing the way they collect, store, and buy information to give themselves better numbers to crunch and extract more value from the technology.

2. Development and Testing Scenarios are Powering the Public Cloud

Gartner’s research gives some great metrics on just how important the public cloud is to enterprise dev/test teams that are looking to create the best software possible. Whether teams are using big data or not, it’s a fact, not a prediction, that the cloud enables collaboration, scaling, and the spinning up and down of environments and architectures faster than what was humanly possible only a few years ago.

3. “Continuous” Has Become the Norm in the Enterprise

Whether you’re talking about improvement, integration, delivery, or deployment—there are simply too many tools and plugins at dev/test teams’ disposal (and too many other teams already using them) to have any reason why you can’t continuously build better software. Your clients, and their own customers, have come to expect software to constantly improve, so you better hope your dev/test teams expect the same.

4. “Increase Velocity” Surpasses “Become More Agile” as a Key Business Driver

Customers may enjoy the increased role they play in the SDLC of their product, thanks to agile, but as I’ve mentioned more than once in this list, their continuous happiness is what matters most. And often, that happiness is the result of continuously delivering working software—on time.

Application owners who pinpoint their focus on increasing velocity with the assistance of continuous integration tools and plugins will have far greater success not only keeping customers happy, but also becoming more agile in the process.

Everyone I spoke with here at Skytap is excited about the year ahead, thanks not only to the core belief that we can always do better, and continuously improve, but also because it’s a great time to be in the software industry. No matter what predictions you’re standing behind; make sure one of them is to always look forward to the future.

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