Can you remember what life was like 10 years ago? How were your personal life and professional life different than they are today? Here are a few reminders about life in 2001:

  1. Smartphones weren't nearly as smart or ubiquitous, and the iPad, iPod, iTunes, and App Store didn't exist yet.
  2. Social media wasn't very social — Twitter was a verb, not a social media outlet, and Facebook was an odd way to refer to a photo album.
  3. The World Trade Center twin towers still stood in Manhattan.
  4. The financial meltdown over subprime mortgages hadn't yet occurred.
  5. East Timor, Montenegro, Serbia, and Kosovo were not yet independent nations.
  6. To even conceive that the Arab Spring revolutions could occur in one country, let alone several . . .

Well, you get the idea: A lot can happen in 10 years. What's the point? We're encouraging you to take a few minutes to consider how your life will change over the next 10 years — what are the changes the next decade holds for the AD&D role? Why bother? Because if we don't look up from our day-to-day, all-consuming priorities to ponder our future, then we can't plan for it, and if we don't plan for it, we will be victims of change instead of champions of change. We can follow several of today's trends to the future and see that fundamental change is coming to the application development and delivery function and by extension all of the roles within. But, we will also be driven by business change — as it changes, so shall we. So brainstorm the idea — forget about the how we'll get there, and imagine what 2020 may look like for applications professionals as:

Business models change from re-act to re-al time.

  • In 2020, sensors are everywhere, providing a wealth of real-time information that shortens time-to-insight/knowledge and up-ending traditional business models.
  • Traditional supply chain models that build products then warehouse them for distribution and sale have given way to systems that sense and build on demand.
  • Payment, procurement, and logistics processes have all changed to match the new model.
  • Just as today, upstart competitors can leverage cheap computing resources to smash traditional barriers to entry in mature market places — but unlike today, upstarts will appear in markets thought to be untouchable in 2011

 Technical advances enable a shift to compute-everywhere

  • The explosion of sensors brings an explosion of data: Making information from data by combining multiple disparate, dynamically joined sources is an industry unto itself.
  • Data storage and information taxonomies and standards will become critically important.
  • The smart device in your hand has more computing capacity than today's most powerful laptops, making your smart device of 2011 look imbecilic by comparison.
  • Advances in wireless network bandwidth have enabled ubertablet devices with holographic displays to completely cannibalize the desktop/laptop market.
  • Cloud computing is now the de facto platform, enabled by advances in data security technology, wireless security, and data privacy technology and by the commoditization of network bandwidth costs.
  • Every app is social and mobile — we want access to everything from everywhere; in fact, the term "application" is a legacy concept, as software has developed to the point where you invoke agents from a smart device that trigger activity throughout an ecosystem of cloud-based, on-premise, and hand-held computing devices.
  • SaaS is the de facto model for ERP and other nondifferentiating business functions. On-premise ERP is a thing of the past, and on-premise development is reserved for software that differentiates you from your competitors.


  • The world around you senses and responds to your presence, enabling self-driving automobiles, self-replenishing home appliances, and a slew of on-demand services.
  •  Boomer retirement is in the middle of a 10-year-long peak, and the rise of the Millennials fundamentally reshapes traditional corporate hierarchies.
  • Once-great nations wane as new upstarts flex their political and purchasing power, forever shifting the balance of power.

Your Forrester AD&D team is looking ahead to 2020 — you'll see it in a keynote presentation by Mike Gilpin and Jeffrey Hammond at Forrester's Application Development & Delivery Forum 2011 in Boston September 22-23, and you'll see it in the form of a research theme throughout the next several months. How can you participate? Join this discussion by answering (or asking) a few forward-looking questions based on some of the 2020 speculation above:

  • How will the roles fulfilled by Application Development & Delivery Professionals change to meet than challenges of the new world order?
  • How will we reshape our roles and relationships with business leaders to enable more business growth and success?
  • What will an AD&D team in 2020 look like? How will we source to win?
  • What companies and leaders of today are so leading edge that they may help us point the way to life in 2020 and can help us separate the speculative wheat from the chafe?

We are actively pursuing this topic on several fronts. Please join the discussion, nominate the "leaders of tomorrow" that may be good interview candidates for our ongoing research, and begin to ponder the question for your own benefit. Participate to be a champion of change!