A certain portion of the software development industry will become automated and obsolete to some extent—opening jobs for configurators, site builders, and the like.
That’s always been the case whenever various elements are repetitive and could be bundled together in order to optimize the workload and increase the efficiency of a company—especially given the competitive market out there.
That said, the software development industry isn’t going anywhere. There’s plenty of innovation required and tons of custom work that isn’t available yet or is not efficient for various organizations.
There are three main aspects that would still be valid and in demand over the next thirty to fifty years:
The flexibility aspect includes custom features, integrations, tailored admin, and user areas for better usability and adaptability for given industries. That covers both the front-facing part of software development, the engines running behind the scenes, and various tools interacting in between.
The performance problem is often valid whenever you try to bundle a few tools or solutions together for a high-scale solution. In order to cater for more markets, those aren’t flexible enough and load tons of data and code that slows the application drastically. That may also affect the stability of the application in the long run and be unbearable for solutions that handle a large volume of users or data.
In terms of security, there’s always been a misalignment between top-notch security and freedom of use and adjustability. The more secure an application is, the more steps or restrictions are introduced in the usability cycle. This means that an “off the shelf” solution will either be super secure, or usable and vulnerable (in general, that is). There are ways to work around those problems and build custom layers for backups, intrusion detection and prevention systems, proper logging, and adequate security without causing too much trouble for users while still being a preferred choice for them.
In addition to that, smart homes and new hardware requiring custom development are quite popular nowadays. This expands to robots, solutions requiring machine learning and artificial intelligence, enterprise solutions with custom programming languages for reporting, data management and profiling, analytics and statistics and whatnot.
Even if we consider a world with hundreds of thousands of tools, components, and libraries handling 90% of the development work out there, those would require millions of engineers who can support, extend, and integrate those solutions with others. Which is what software developers do. This will never be the case for large platforms used by many of the websites you visit on the daily basis (which are being continuously developed by millions of engineers as well).
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