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2008 Application Development Trends: "Building for Change" to accommodate today's shifting business conditions.

Software developers and businesses alike can expect to see significant changes in the year ahead in how applications are developed. Research analysts are projecting that 2008 will reveal a shift in the conventional development process, resulting in more flexible solutions that can evolve with a company's changing needs.

Until now, application development professionals have designed applications to meet the most current business requirements. Supply followed demand as developers fought to be the first out the door with the latest and greatest solutions to resolve these business challenges.

Forrester research analyst, Carey Schwaber, projects that "as the pace of business change increases, so will the pace of change in business requirements." Because of these rapidly changing business conditions, new applications will need to be designed to meet undetermined future requirements as well as current needs. This will call for key players to be involved in predicting which requirements are most likely to change and how the application can be designed to facilitate the change.

Today's applications emphasize performance, data integrity, and scalability as their key goals, (not the ability to be easily changed). However, this new requirement, labeled "build-for-change", prepares for anticipated changes in the application's design, and includes an interface to enable the user to change process and business rules without additional programming. Forrester states, "A build-for-change approach places at the center of the application's design the factors most likely to change like business process flows, policies, and services, and provides a means to manage their prompt evolution."

Development occurring within companies is also evolving, resulting in a trend to increase collaboration between departments. No longer is IT simply tasked with executing requested business requirements, but departments are now working in cooperation to create these applications together. "Business analysts, power users, and even business professionals will now pass process designs, business rules, mashups, and other design elements to IT teams. IT will provide not only applications, but also tools to enable businesspeople to customize, extend, and evolve those applications." (Forrester Research, September 24, 2007, 'The Dynamic Business Applications Imperative'.) The result of this development model puts the power to effect change into the hands of the businesspeople. This democratization of development, also referred to as "technology populism", is consistent with the current move away from a removed, central IT department.

So, as "change" is the buzzword of many politicians this election year, we can also expect to see and hear about lots of major changes happening in the world of application development. The end result of this trend will be more of these flexible and highly adaptable software products making their appearance in the marketplace. Change can be a good thing.

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