As our collective society moves on to better standards of living, many industries that used to be necessary are starting to become obsolete. In a world of self-driving cars and full automation, we focus less on the development and maintenance of archaic machines and hardware and focus more on the data and designing the software that runs them. Our tech-savvy culture practically runs on software, and it is so ubiquitous that software is used in almost all industries, from business to manufacturing to healthcare.
As a matter of fact, even when society grinds to a halt, as is the case during the Covid-19 pandemic, software development seems to be the only industry that not only survives unscathed, it thrives. We see the impact software development has had in our world, but do we truly understand why software development is important? Today, we’re going to learn just that.
What is Software Development?
In simple terms, software development involves the creation and maintenance of computer programmed software by skilled programmers. These programs are used to help people achieve different objectives, goals, or processes that will normally take too much time when done manually. These tools are used to help improve productivity by automating certain jobs, which then opens up time for other tasks, or even free time for leisure to use on other software driven platforms like video games or Netflix. Software development requires expertise in computer programming and is carried out by a software programmer or software engineer.
There are two types of software, namely general purpose and tailor-made. General purpose software is used the same way regardless of where it is downloaded. Examples of this are Microsoft Word, Grab, and video games. Tailor-made software is created for a very specific task, usually unique to one person or company, and generally can’t be used elsewhere.
Software Development in Automation
Automation in manufacturing has been a commonplace since the 1970’s and has improved factory productivity greatly in the following decades. Continued advancements in robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence means factories and manufacturing floors will see a smoother, more efficient production line that will not only reduce costs but improve productivity as well. Of course, robots aren’t much use if there aren’t any programs to tell them what to do.
Complicated robotics, sometimes involving machines that are unique to a specific task, will require software that will tell them how to do complex assignments. As we advance in robotics, we will also need updated software to run them, and that’s where software development comes in. Efficient programming can help minimize specialization and create machines that can do multiple tasks at a time, saving your factory floor space, and of course, money.
People seem to believe that investing in automation in manufacturing will make factory workers redundant and obsolete. This is unfortunately true, but although factory worker jobs will become less available, the jobs that require expertise in programming will start opening up. Factories will start hiring fewer unskilled manufacturing labor and more specialized programmers, not only to create software, but also to maintain and update them accordingly. But don’t worry, it’s unlikely that AI coding automation will replace software developers in the next few hundred years.
Software Development on the Road
Automation isn’t specific to manufacturing either and has seeped into our daily lives as well. It has not only allowed us to free up our time and enhance our standard of living, but also to help improve our overall safety. Take for example self-driving vehicles.
Now, self-driving cars are a relatively new industry, and has yet to become a mainstream thing. One of the reasons for this is that people are less likely to trust a vehicle that doesn’t need a person driving it, so the demand for such tech isn’t a top priority. This distrust is especially prevalent in urban areas, where roads are saturated heavily with traffic.
But as technology advances, programmers will be able to program self-driving cars with the help of specialized machine learning as accurately as they would program other automated machines. Programmers and engineers are currently developing software that can help improve the safety of these self-driving vehicles. These developments will mainly focus on allowing an automated vehicle to adjust its movements based on external factors on the fly based on millions of samples of seeing similar situations. This is especially important when life and death is determined by quick decisions, such is the case on the road.
Programs involved in such vehicles will need to recognize road warning signs, traffic lights, parking areas, and most importantly, pedestrians. This software will need to work in tandem with cameras and sensors to work effectively. Navigation will also be a place where software development can play a vital role. Software can not only help tell you where you are at any given time through GPS, but also obtain information based on the other vehicles on the road you are currently in.
Although this technology is at its infancy, software development will eventually help pave the way to producing safe and reliable automated vehicles.
Data and Businesses
Another area where software development is becoming vital is in business. One asset in business that a lot of people seem to forget about is data, and how data is stored in any company plays a vital role on how its employees access and use it, as well as overall security. Digitizing information and storing it as data not only helps save physical space, but also centralizes and makes accessing this information much easier for those who need it. It is also much easier to keep outsiders from accessing it freely as well.
Of course, as a company continues to develop, its data pool will start gaining volume, and being able to store this high volume of data efficiently will be where the focus is going to be. Digital infrastructure will need to be updated constantly, so companies can continue to provide reliable performance for those who use this data.
Software development is important for data analysis, too. The data gathered from the day to day operations, when paired with a right software, can be used by companies to keep track of trends amongst their customers. This information can be used to help adjust to their customer’s needs and even predict customer behavior, allowing a company to create a product that can instantly resonate with their chosen market.
How Software Development Keeps Our Society Afloat
The recent pandemic has just demonstrated how our society can be easily ground to a halt, with large-scale shutdowns pretty much turning even major cities into absolute ghost towns. Mobile apps and other similar software, such as Amazon Prime, Grub-Hub, Zoom, Google Drive and more acts as a lifeline for many people. These apps have allowed them to function far better than previous generations who had to undergo similar large scale shutdowns of society.
These services will need to be updated, improved, and expanded in order to better serve a growing customer base. Even better, software development can be done remotely, which allows these lifelines to function normally and provide services relatively uninterrupted during the pandemic. With further software development, such support could only improve, giving us a better standard of living in future pandemics or similar events.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not only shown the importance of software development and our dependence on mobile services but has also amplified it. Even as we transition into the “new normal” of post-pandemic life, the need for software development will also go up. In fact, a report published by the San Francisco-based SaaS has shown that there was a significant increase in overall app installs and usages in just under a year.
In particular, food and drink delivery apps, such as Grub-Hub have seen a 71% increase in usage compared to the same period in 2019. New installations have also increased by 102%, showing that the market in these apps are steadily expanding into new customer bases as well. This heavy usage of apps isn’t just limited to food and delivery, but also to apps that provide entertainment.
Gaming apps in particular have seen a 130% jump in the number of installs in March this year, compared to the same month in the previous year. Video streaming services have also seen a similar rise in the number of installs and overall usage.
Of course, since many people are forced to stay at home, apps that help companies with having their employees work remotely have increased in use as well. These software have acted as a lifeline to businesses the same way food delivery and entertainment apps act as lifelines to the regular people.
Business apps like these have seen a huge increase in usage, with up to 105% increase compared to the same period last year. Installations have also increased by around 70%. Business apps themselves have become a lucrative source of revenues for software programmers, as many of the companies that use these apps prefer to use their premium version. This has led to an increase in revenue by 75% for the developers.
As we steadily transition into a new era of mobile apps, automation and post-pandemic life, our dependence in software will only continue to grow. This is not necessarily a negative thing, as apps have the potential to make our lives markedly better. In order to thrive in such a tech-savvy world, businesses will continue to invest heavily in software development as well. Additionally software development will need to be taught to children in their schools to remember why software development is important and how this will impact their lifestyles and jobs in the future.
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