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There's a lot of buzz about next-gen software, and how they're going infiltrate horizontally and revolutionize the way we operate across the board. There is some validity to some this buzz, especially when it comes to AI, Blockchain, and Progressive Web Apps. In this article we demystify Blockchain, AI Software, and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), and explore how they will evolve this coming year.
There will be a shift in focus from conversational AI to predictive AI, as we pinpoint opportunities for more polished workflows and user experiences. PWAs are the middle-ground between two very different user experiences and a melting pot of their best functionalities. We know now that wherever there are privacy concerns and whenever anonymity is required, Blockchain technology is applicable.
Here's where we're going if you want to jump ahead:
Undoubtedly, you've heard of Blockchain's impermeable ledger and how it's challenging the confines of traditional banking or contemplated how artificial intelligence could reimagine predictive maintenance and enhance consumer relations, but there is a lingering skepticism surrounding their applicatory potential.
I know we sometimes find ourselves asking, is Blockchain a rogue wave that will soon settle, or is decentralized banking going to render intermediaries obsolete in the next decade? Are PWA's the future or a sideshow in the frenetic app development climate?
In the coming months, we're bound to see a whole mess of content predicting next year's software must-haves – this is an inevitability. Fallacious articles and unsubstantiated claims are also an inevitably, and locating valuable insertions becomes a needle in a haystack situation.
We want to get ahead of the New Year buzz and zero in on the three software development trends we can't ignore, explaining through data-driven analysis why these next-generation technologies matter and building a business case around their evolution.
So, to find some answers and demystify the buzz surrounding Blockchain, AI Software, and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), we went into Google Trends and took a look at how the search volumes for these keywords has ebbed and flowed over the past five years, and what their search volume patterns indicate for the coming year.
The graph below visualizes search trends for our four focus-terms during a five year period.
Google Trends illustrates a continuous increase in search volume for all three terms over the five-year period (2013-2018). There is no indication that the growing interest will not continue into the next year. We can see that beginning in the summer of 2016, the search volume began to grow more aggressively and has continued on that pattern since, with expected fluctuations in volume on a month-to-month basis.
The term, AI software, has the most promising search volume pattern of the three, with progressive web apps trailing in second by a significant margin.
Now that we've determined all three technologies are validated by a growing user-base, let's examine them individually.
1. AI Software: This is Bigger than Siri
Let's take AI Software out of the comparison graph, and examine how its search volume fends on its own.
We've drawn a green line to help guide you toward the overarching pattern we're seeing for AI Software.
From this data, we know there's a very high probability that AI will continue to climb. We attribute this to a growing understanding of how artificial intelligence can integrate horizontally.
Until recently, we've wrongfully kept AI captive in incredibly mundane forms, chatbots, and Siri-like assistants, or operated under the false pretense that AI can serve as a human-replacement in all situations.
AI makes it possible to do many things, as it’s designed to interpret and respond to natural language patterns. Although AI can formulate and contextualize outputs after analyzing inputs, AI is not meant to be a human replacement for critical thinking or impromptu conjecture.
AI is a like a fine wine, it only gets better with age. We can think about this myopically: my AI system will learn concepts beyond the concepts we trained it to know, or think big picture, if AI is this intuitive now, I can't imagine where it will be 20 years down the road.
AI is the super-employee, the employee who takes on the onus of continued learning and personal development outside of work hours. But, using the same comparison, this employee will never be able to respond with nonverbal communication, develop intrapersonal intelligence, or act on visual cues.
So, as we move into the New Year, we'll experience an AI paradigm shift. Rather than replacing all customer service agents with chatbots, we'll find a way to nurture the relationship between the human workforce and AI tools to forge a symbiosis, where one relies on the other harmoniously.
There will also be a shift in focus from conversational AI to predictive AI, as we pinpoint opportunities for more polished workflows and user experiences. Predictive AI transcends verticals, shape-shifting to alleviate a diverse set of pain points we didn't recognize as pain points until we had the means of dismantling them.
Sometimes it's as simple as predicted interests and queries, which we see with Google. Google AI anticipates our searches based on historical data, localizes our searches to match our surroundings and predicts which questions we may have in relation to our most recent queries.
In other instances, the stakes are higher and more institutional. The U.S. Army now uses AI to predict failing vehicle systems and provide insights into operational health, serving as an automated equipment technician. It's a constant dialogue between the machine and the AI software in a common language that is then repackaged by the AI software into a language familiar to us.
We suspect predictive vehicle maintenance is just the beginning, and soon this sort of technology will become more civilian-friendly. Pattern recognition obviously isn't exclusive to vehicle health; AI pattern recognition can be applied to stock fluctuations, weather patterns, and other enigmas we haven't yet found a way to decode.
2. Progressive Web Apps: Don't Keep Your PWA as a POW in the Battle for Accessibility
When we segment out progressive web app from the graphical comparison this is what we get:
We can see some pretty promising growth in PWA search volume, which we've represented with the green line.
Let's address the elephant in the room: what is a progressive web application?
If we were to combine traditional web app DNA and mobile app DNA in equal parts, we'd wind up producing a Progressive Web App (PWA). PWAs are the middle-ground between two very different user experiences and a melting pot of their best functionalities.
We define a PWA as an application with the much-loved native app aesthetic and device connectivity, but the browser-based user experience of a web application. Progressive Web Apps can do things neither a regular web app nor a mobile app can on their own, engineering the perfect formula for cross-channel accessibility.
Users can access PWAs from any web browser, and receive the same user experience from any operating system. They use a progressive web stack (JS, HTML, CSS) to reproduce the mobile app experience.
To use mobile apps, users must visit the app store, download the app (sometimes through purchase), wait for the download, and then interact with the app through the thumbnail that appears on their screen. Due to navigation limitations, load-speed, and an interrupted user journey, brands sometimes lose engagement on the mobile app front. Considering PWAs are a relative of traditional web apps, they are associated with a URL, making them linkable and share-friendly.
PWAs take the path of least resistance by offering users maximum accessibility. Users receive two options: continue to navigate to the PWA through their browser or download a shortcut icon to their home screen for greater accessibility. PWAs are extremely easy to implement, easy to use, and easy to update, a win-win on all fronts. Users save storage on their devices, and brands reduce development and application maintenance costs.
We even take accessibility a step beyond device compatibility with PWAs because they maintain functionality when there is limited connectivity. Outlining offline features should be the number one priority for brands. Which features should remain usable even when your user is falling victim to a fickle internet connection?
For countries without widespread connectivity, PWAs are a viable medium for offline brand consumption and a represent an opportunity to expand into a new market or revive old markets.
While mobile apps must be downloaded through the app store and adhere to app store guidelines and regulations, PWAs function independently, restoring creative freedom for branding initiatives.
3. Blockchain: Outliving the Bitcoin Hype
It's pretty clear when the Bitcoin boom began and the bull market ended. December 2018 was an anomalism Bitcoin will probably never experience again. At this point, the market has stabilized and begun to mature. Even though this is tragic news for Bitcoin hodlers, this is great news for Blockchain.
The unpredictability we've come to associate with the cryptocurrency forced Blockchain out of the Bitcoin bubble and into the real world. It's done a pretty decent job surviving on its own, untethered from the mothership.
By January 2018, Blockchain entrepreneurs were forced to consider Blockchain in environments outside of peer-to-peer transactions, considering the quiet strengths of a decentralized ledger and how they would react in non-monetized transactions. To unpack these strengths, we have to return to Blockchain's roots.
The birth of Blockchain coincided with a growing interconnectivity and a fear of how new accessibility would compromise data. Blockchain is a decentralized, impermeable ledger that offers an alternative to centralized processes. Once the parameters of a transaction are coded and a new block is created, the transaction self-executes according to the parameters. All transactions are verified and the details of the transaction are anonymized and non-threat to privacy.
Maybe we look at the obvious application first, banking. Even payment powerhouses like Visa experiences service outages. If person A is transacting with person B through Visa, and Visa not relaying information to person B, person A is forced to wait out the outage and delay payment processing. A very small number of actors control a very large amount of money, and for this reason, all stockholders are bound to their processes.
International exchanges are especially vulnerable in the hands of payment networks. Typically international transactions take 3-5 days to settle and come with a hefty cost per transaction. Blockchain alternatives like Ripple and Tron boast greatly reduce the fees and confirm transactions in less than half the time.
Bypassing big banks is an attractive first-thought, which is why we saw Blockchain saturate banking and financial outlets. What other intermediaries can we cut out of the equation? The list is long, continuously evolving, and sometimes non-human.
We can pinpoint severe lapses in data security and reverse the paranoia they've induced. Perhaps, we can apply Blockchain to the voting process, cutting out software with seedy security protocols. What if we transition Real Estate into a totally independent process, buying and selling houses without a broker, and verifying sales and payments across the Blockchain network?
Even cloud computing and Blockchain juxtapose nicely, curtailing porous protocols with cryptographic record-keeping.
Basically, we know now that wherever there are privacy concerns and whenever anonymity is required, Blockchain technology is applicable.
4. The Application: Escaping Software Purgatory
Sometimes it's difficult to contextualize trends and apply them to your business. We get it. But know this, next-generation technologies are fun to read about, but without applying the information, it's pretty much useless (if we're being honest). So take your current software solutions out of Purgatory, and build them a bridge to the enlightened side of things.
Let's break down the takeaways.
If there is a privacy or security concern…Blockchain.
If you want to open new traffic and increase engagement channels….PWAs.
If you need predictive intelligence or find yourself wasting resources on repetitive tasks…Artificial Intelligence.
The best part of Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and Progressive Web Applications is that they aren't limited to verticals; they're horizontals. Chances are at least one of them could drastically improve your life, and lives you bleed into with whatever service or product you provide.
Lucky for you, we're masters of all. If you're interested in learning more about how you can integrate next year's software must-haves into your development roadmap, or just curious about what we do, let us know.
Chetu does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of a specific software, company or individual does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.
Founded in 2000, Chetu is a global outsourced software development provider, delivering solutions and support services. Chetu's specialized technology and industry experts serve startups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies with an unparalleled software delivery model suited to the needs of the client. Chetu's one-stop-shop model spans the entire software technology spectrum. Headquartered in Plantation, Florida, Chetu has fourteen locations throughout the U.S. and abroad.