Software development, like most technology, is constantly evolving. So, with the help of two application services leaders from Sparkhound, one of Louisiana’s leading business and technology consulting companies, we are here to offer you a snapshot of the industry, where it’s heading, and an update on the skills software developers need to keep up.
Mike Carter, Sparkhound’s Practice Director of Application Services explained that in the last few years, mobile devices have changed the landscape of computing and are now bleeding into the business market as companies take that mobility out in the field. “We do a lot of work for the oil and gas industry here in Louisiana and most companies are moving away from paper and replacing it with digital scheduling and tracking of materials,” he explained. Other examples include physical therapy companies that are gathering data in the field on patient flexibility and improvement, as well as a sports medicine company using devices to monitor the level of head impact to football players during games and practice. Both companies are using real-time sensor data that is pushed to a web-based dashboard and then to big-data platforms.
Sean Kenney, Sparkhound’s Managing Director of Application Services, took a deeper, internal view explaining how the company breaks up software into four categories: User Experience, client-side technologies, server-side technologies and the Internet of Things (IOT). Each of these areas requires specific skills and talents from employees.
User Experience: This area entails ensuring that the user interface is responsive and promotes a positive experience for the user. While software designers must be adept at HTML5/CSS3 and Bootstrap, challenges need to be approached both scientifically and artistically. Market-leading firms in User Experience, such as Amazon and Apple, design their user interfaces to esthetically appeal to users (art) while minimizing clicks to achieve desired functionality (science).
Server-side technologies: This involves the actions that happen on the server side where they would require additional data and processes, not on the client. For example, when you’re checking out on your favorite website, this technology is the capability used to determine shipping costs, when a product can ship and the sales tax you should pay based on your location. Proficiency in .Net, .Net Core, Web Apis, and Node.js are recommended. However, we see an emerging trend where many companies are moving towards serverless systems—writing code without picking a specific hardware on which it runs.
Internet of Things: This rapidly expanding area is a network in which physical objects can exchange data internally or with other connected machines. As an example, Sparkhound completed a project for a farm that needed help controlling temperatures for young plants. The team used a device called a Raspberry Pi, which easily connects with sensors that alert the farmers to adjust temperatures via phone. The IOT technology has become much cheaper and there are many options for developing it, both from a programming and operating system perspective.
“As far as industry trends right now, many firms like ours are merging the development team and operations team into cross functional teams,” said Sean Kenney. “That way, there is no misunderstanding between the two teams and they are aligned on how the designed solutions will work. ”
“I went to school for a degree in computer science,” added Carter. “Probably the most beneficial thing I came away with was that it helped me learn to think. That’s one thing that has not changed in the industry. We are still looking for creative people who can think and excel at creative problem solving.”
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