Software Trends for 2017

January 5, 2017 Rob Mee

Read the software trends for 2018.

At Pivotal we see software from a number of angles. We help Fortune 100 companies like Ford, General Electric, and Liberty Mutual transition to becoming more software oriented, and we help startups like HelloGbye and ModCloth make their products and scale their teams. We also build and maintain software of our own, from Pivotal Cloud Foundry and Pivotal Tracker to a number of incredible open sourced technologies like Spring, Greenplum, and many more.

We’ve brought together some of the smartest minds to look ahead at what 2017 holds for software itself, as well as some of the industries it’s affecting. Among these voices are Pivotal employees, Pivotal customers, and a few guest appearances from other leading technologists. Hopefully these insights can help you and your team get ahead on what’s to come, and build software that’s better, faster, safer, and more valuable than ever before.

 – Rob Mee, Pivotal CEO



We are going to see many interesting developments in this industry due to the major disruption started by Tesla. Obviously, we will see the launch of many more self-driving cars, but we will also see the entire connected car system become “smart.” Expect your car to predict the failure of a part and suggest some convenient times for you to go the mechanic, who will have the replacement part ready for you!

– Kaushik Das, Head of Data Science, Pivotal


PV-BL_2017Trends-Icons-BigData Big Data

Three big trends have shaped application development over the last several years: cloud, agile, and DevOps. In 2017, we’re going to see these trends hit data in a big way. We already see the effect of cloud in architectures that separate compute and data. Cloud-based blob stores like S3 have become the new data lake for many organizations. Agile practices will increasingly influence the work of data engineers and data scientists, enabling them to benefit from fast feedback cycles and continuous delivery of value. Finally, we’ll see database administrators leverage DevOps practices to automate deployment and orchestration of their data services, assisted by offerings like Pivotal Cloud Foundry’s data services that enable developer self-service through automation.

– Elisabeth Hendrickson, VP Engineering, Big Data, Pivotal



At Bloomberg, our position in the global capital markets pushes us to understand the unique requirements of extreme network and systems availability. However, many companies across a diverse set of industries do not yet (fully) appreciate these requirements. As more and more organizations move their mission-critical systems to the cloud, we anticipate there may be a number of large scale incidents in 2017 (e.g., service outages, DDOS attacks, etc.) that cause businesses to realize the importance of implementing a multi-cloud strategy. It is our belief that enterprises will need to spread their chips around and utilize multiple cloud providers to achieve best-of-breed availability.

– Justin Erenkrantz, Head of Compute Architecture, Bloomberg LP


2017 will see In-Memory Data Grids (IMDG) become an integral part of the cloud-native application ecosystem. While IMDG use has historically been rather niche—serving markets with a need for complex, real-time event processing, such as fraud detection—in 2017 the role they play in highly distributed, self-adapting cloud-native applications will bring them into the mainstream. Whether used to aggregate collections of bounded-context data, or serve as a layer in a CQRS pattern, a simplified consumption and programming model will make IMGD use accessible to the mainstream developers.

– Cornelia Davis, Sr. Director of Technology, Pivotal


PV-BL_2017Trends-Icons-Cont IntContinuous Integration

Everyone involved in application development agrees that continuous integration (CI) is a really, really good idea. Yet, if surveys are to be believed, only about 40% of organizations have continuous integration in place. Management hungers for the benefits of DevOps and cloud-native—delivering quality software to production more frequently to drive availability and innovation. Putting CI in place is the first, necessary requirement, so, hopefully this means the 60% that lacks CI will put it in place this year, putting them further along the path of delivering better software.

– Michael Coté, Director, Technical Marketing, Pivotal


PV-BL_2017Trends-Icons-Data ScienceData Science

In 2017, enterprises will increasingly migrate away from centralized, shared-service data science organizations in favor of embedding data scientists directly in business units and even making data scientists part of software development project teams. This will lead to better software that leverages data science to support “intelligent” features, such as personalized recommendations and intelligent automation.

– Jeff Kelly, Principal Product Marketing Manager, Pivotal



Service design will turn mainstream, so that other people—beyond designers—will know it, and begin to embrace and use it. Service design is a variety of UX design that considers the entirety of a user’s experience by mapping it out and linking it to all sorts of service systems; sounds, kiosks, signage, software—anything really. It’s been around for 25 years within the design and business communities and is now moving into software. At Pivotal, we have a strong practice of Service Blueprinting with a focus on linking software layers to user experience.

– Kim Dowd, Design Practice Lead, Pivotal



The Platform can do more if the applications let it, and they integrate it. In the same way that the best applications on iOS or Windows or Android leverage the underlying platform, expect to see applications depend on a larger complement of platform services and leverage APIs accordingly. But these integrations aren’t business differentiated functionality, so expect to see the framework handle increasingly more responsibility, freeing the developer to focus on the business logic at hand. Spring Cloud (which builds on Spring Boot) is the win32 API for your cloud operating system, and that integration will continue to improve. As organizations build larger systems the reliability of communication between components in the system will increase and so too will the value of messaging and asynchronous communication. Expect to see a strong focus on reactive programming and asynchronous programming in 2017.

– Josh Long, Spring Developer Advocate, Pivotal



Software will be the driving force behind a more effective and efficient government. At the moment, software supports our operations. In the future, operational excellence of software (systems) will be at the heart of our value proposition to society. Simultaneously, the growing importance of open source and open standards will enable governments to build and engage in ecosystems that function as smart networks—flexible coalitions in which governments, citizens, and companies work together to create value for society as a whole.

– Perry van der Weyden, CIO, Rijkswaterstaat



“Microservices” entered our lexicon just a couple years ago, and yet they dominate the conversation regarding next-generation software. But we’re going to hit some bumps in the road in 2017. Things that worked fine with a few services—such as patching, logging, and capacity scaling—don’t work so well when you have thousands. We’ll see a brief “trough of disillusionment” with microservices as companies regroup and figure out how to get the benefits of microservices and containers without throwing their IT department into chaos.

– Richard Seroter, Senior Director of Product, Pivotal


Microservices will officially cross the chasm in 2017, and this year will see multiple Fortune 500 companies deploy critical systems of engagement via microservices architecture. Many microservices implementations will move away from their REST/JSON beginnings and truly embrace event-driven architectures, with the hardest problems being solved by Event Sourcing and CQRS implementations. At the same time, the Serverless/Functions as a Service (FaaS) hype wave will begin its hockey stick climb as the heir apparent to microservices, and customers will begin to explore possible use cases for this on-demand computing paradigm. They’ll begin to apply pressure to the Big 3 (Amazon, Google, Microsoft) providers to enhance their FaaS offerings with improved developer experiences, testing and CI/CD facilitation, and a list of trigger offerings that doesn’t point solely to increased service revenue for the provider.

– Matt Stine, Strategic Product Owner – Spring, Pivotal



Your phone will embrace augmented reality. Pokemon GO sparked it, but AR is coming to every aspect of your smartphone. With location data, fast networks, and cloud-based services, the power of machine-learning through software will endow providers with the greatest learning and predictive capabilities of our lifetime. Will they choose wisely about what and when to share with you? With great software will come great responsibility. Look for your smartphone to become a much smarter adviser.

– Mark D’Cunha, Mobile & Cloud Platforms, Pivotal



Far from the monoliths of yore, today’s architectures are nimble, developer-driven, and non-trivial to troubleshoot. Whether we’re using distributed tracing tools or performing deep introspection enabled by ad-hoc queries, debugging today’s distributed systems means tackling fractal complexity. Modern tooling for the future of observability enables us to succeed with architectural patterns like microservices and functions-as-a-service.

– Bridget Kromhout, Principal Technologist, Pivotal


PV-BL_2017Trends-Icons-PMProduct Management

The Product Management (PM) community will grow stronger and more diverse. Because teams with diverse perspectives and experiences make better products, I’m particularly excited about Women In Product Slack, a vibrant and welcoming Slack group that seeks to bring more diversity and inclusion to a role and industry that are highly gendered. The PM role will also become more strategic. As business leaders engage and partner with their IT counterparts to make software a value engine (rather than an outsourced support function), the PM role will become more integrated into the work of strategy, product definition, and product design. It will be less about gathering and communicating business requirements and more about defining the right outcomes and iterating with a team towards the right solution. The implications: more emphasis on delivering the right quantifiable customer and business value through product (as opposed to delivering on scope, on time, and on budget), outcome-based plans (instead of solution-based plans), and empowered lean and agile product teams (instead of agile project teams).

– Joanna Beltowska, Associate Director of Product Management, Pivotal


PV-BL_2017Trends-Icons-RetailRetail: Health & Beauty

There will be a race toward personalization. The health and beauty industry is massive, but right now, it’s completely based on the subjective whims of big brands. The industry needs to start recognizing the unique health and beauty needs of consumers, one-size-fits-all does not work. Emerging technologies, will allow us to build products and experiences tailored to each customer’s unique needs. Respect for the customer is a core value at Walker & Company, and we want to lead the way here.

– Tristan Walker, Founder & CEO, Walker & Company Brands


PV-BL_2017Trends-Icons-Social GoodSocial Good

Data drives the decisions of your favorite cause. Non-profits will share more data on both their successes and failures to increase transparency and confidence in their work. Easily accessible, real-time analysis will replace research reports that are outdated the moment they hit your desk. More and more of this data will be collected in the field from mobile devices. Machine-learning and other tools will be implemented to ensure that data is not merely being collected but actually put to good use. In a world where trust is key and we are all increasingly interconnected, organizations that fail to communicate and visualize their impact will fall behind.

– Kevin O’Brien, CTO, Kiva


Since nonprofits compete for hearts and minds instead of dollars, in 2017 they have the opportunity to become real leaders in two areas of growing importance: accessibility and privacy. By simply living up to their missions, nonprofits can show the way to create tech that works for everyone without turning the people, unwittingly, into the product.

– Sean Redmond, Director of User Experience, Design, and Accessibility, New York Public Library


PV-BL_2017Trends-Icons-VRVirtual Reality

For Virtual Reality (VR), 2017 is the year that content comes into focus. Hardware manufacturers will incentivize content creators and there will be increased investment in VR content led in large part by Asian-based investors. On the hardware front, manufacturers like HTC, Google, Oculus, and others will continue to iterate on their VR technology with a focus on computing efficiency and increased mobility.

– Richard Enlow, Product Designer and Manager, Product Design Practice, Pivotal



You’ll have a small army of bots to help you do your job. As businesses move from email to messaging, all of the software you use for work will connect with the most pervasive for-work messaging products. As every business and startup went mobile in 2011, bots are the next major trend. As Mailbox, Sunrise Calendar, and other mobile-first productivity apps rose up, there will be a trend in hot bot for-work companies rising up in 2017. The big question lies in how intelligent these little helpers need to be: do bots need to understand your every request? Will they be able to intelligently gather your needs, or will we be happy with their existence to fulfill a specific function? If intelligence is required for success, the major players—Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Facebook—have a significant advantage over smaller developers.

– Ceci Stallsmith, Platform Marketing Manager, Slack


About the Author

Rob Mee

Rob Mee is CEO of Pivotal and serves on its Board of Directors. He frequently advises the world's most admired brands, government agencies, and fast-rising startups about the value of agile software development using an open cloud platform.

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