Mobile app development has made a dramatic shift in a very short period of time. Only a few years ago, developers were building apps for the most portable device of that time: a laptop. Today, of the 19 million software developers worldwide, 8.7 million are now writing apps targeted for mobile devices.
Individuals and businesses are connecting and collaborating like never before, thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices, making way for a younger generation of developers who are comfortable using and building for various operating systems and screen sizes.
As the next generation of developers gets younger and younger, and technology continues to transform society, we are presented with a question: What does the road ahead look like for the developer community?
I predict that 1) kids as young as 12 will start building and designing apps that consumers will use as part of their everyday lives and that 2) businesses will model their own enterprise apps after those examples.
With mobile app development getting easier, it isn’t too lofty to think kids could be part of the next wave of app developers. Kids possess the creative thinking required to design visually compelling apps or games. And when this creativity is combined with the necessary math, science, and art education from an early age, kids will be able to learn the coding skills needed to be successful at app development.
This emerging generation of “born on a smartphone” developers will grow with the ever-changing technology industry that continues to make valuable information easier to consume for anyone, anywhere, at any time, on any device. As mobile app development moves to a more open, agile methodology of sharing code, kids will be developing apps in no time for fun, and for interacting with the world that surrounds them on an entirely new level.
They will also have different and higher expectations of what apps will allow them to do — but they will have all the critical tools at their fingertips. Fast forward 10 years from now, and the conversation among teens in school hallways will be about how many self-developed apps they have in an app store.
These ideas are already being pushed to market through startups like Kandu, which explores the idea of allowing anyone to make games and apps with zero coding skills using a tablet device, no PC required.
How born-on-a-smartphone developers will impact business
When we step back and imagine the impact this will have on the future of business, we begin to think about the types of employees these young, mobile-savvy people will be. They will not have patience for cumbersome processes to get their work done. Things like doing a purchase order for a monitor or submitting a travel expense report will seem completely unnecessary to them.
Their expectations will be much higher than those common among today’s workers. Business will need to accommodate and transform their internal operations to be able to keep up with their employees changing needs and ensure that they are working on the things that matter most for their companies.
As young developers begin working, their goal will be to make the world a better place and provide a great user experience through their work. They will look for the same satisfaction they felt when they were in middle school, building their first apps, whether that was an interactive game for their younger sibling or a video chat application with large buttons and pre-set contacts that made it easy for grandma to call her grandchildren.
These developers will be living in the era of working with composable apps, where they can pick and choose the different components to build their own creative, one-of-a-kind apps. Some components will be chosen by default, like the ones that manage privacy, security, analytics, and comply with accessibility. Others will be based on what type of data they want to incorporate by using components that give access to systems of records.
For systems of engagements, it will come naturally to them to know which platforms are best to plug in to since they were born when social media was in its prime. The development process will also be done in the cloud allowing for better flexibility and collaboration.
What this means for today’s business is that the long-term plans have already begun. And there’s no slowing it down. What are you doing today to be in sync with the next generation of mobile developers?
Carlos Santana is a mobile software architect at IBM.
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