The pandemic has been one of the main causes of change that many businesses are facing. To "stay afloat," they are setting up custom software development, including IT workflow automation, platform integration, machine learning, cross-platform development, cloud solutions, etc.

What custom software development trends should you expect in 2021 to win "the fight for the customer"? What's in store for the industry? We have a list of the main trends for 2021, so let's consider them all in detail. Read our article to stay ahead of the curve and ensure sustainable growth for your business.

Custom Software Solution. What Is It?

Custom software solutions are specially developed solutions for a specific user or company. These can be existing solutions optimized according to the user's requirements and expectations or developed from scratch for the needs of a particular business. They are always unique and personalized.

Custom software adapts to already existing business processes and allows for quick implementation of new ones. The interface in such a solution is designed specifically for company employees (or its customers). All special software functions and tools are used to the fullest extent - nothing superfluous - only useful features. Obviously, such software tools allow you to work as efficiently as possible.

Moreover, this type of software belongs only to the company/user that owns it. This means that you can add and remove functionality. If necessary, you can always develop a customized software solution according to the requirements of your business.

Custom software development provides full control over any changes and absolute independence from third parties. That's why Amazon, Uber, Netflix, McDonald's, Google, and other companies make custom software for themselves.

Custom Software: Pros & Cons

Every software solution has its pros and cons. Custom software is no exception. Let's take a look.


  • Individuality. All custom software apps are easily tailored to business processes, not the other way around. Custom software is convenient by design, thus employees will quickly get used to it, plus, the customer will save time and effort spent learning how to use the new software. In addition to the necessary features, custom software will have fewer bugs and less time spent on work.
  • Competitiveness. Your direct competitors are likely to use the same software unless yours was custom. With it, you decide how your software will look and work, thus, you can be more successful in the marketplace. For example, you can make it more customer-centric, while your competitors use off-the-shelf software with limitations.
  • Flexibility and autonomy. You decide what, when, and how you want to change your software. You are the only owner - no one will take your software solution away from you. You can add, change, remove features, and adapt to new business needs. What's more, you don't need to migrate software - just transfer your work data to a new platform or expand on an existing one.
  • Cost-effectiveness (in the long run). You don't need to pay to extend access to your custom solution (as is often the case with off-the-shelf solutions). You also don't have to pay for additional features you may need in your work.


  • High cost. You will have to pay the entire cost of developing the software. Depending on your needs, the price can range from medium to very high. The initial price tag will be more than any monthly subscription. Faced with this, businesses often implement this task incrementally. At first, they develop only the most necessary features. However, in this case, you're likely to save money in the long run, not now. To check this, you should compare the cost of your software and the subscription cost of the software for the period for which you plan to use it.
  • Consideration. Custom software takes time and effort. First, you have to design the project, outline the features you want, the budget, and the timeline. The planning stage usually takes a full week. Then comes the development and implementation. Here, the timeline may be different - from 3 months, on average. To make a more accurate estimate, you need to consider all the features and objectives of the project.

With that said, let’s see what 2021 has in store for the industry.


Automation is usually perceived on a par with efficiency because it aims to improve some processes by simplifying regular tasks, obtaining maximum results, and improving the performance of the business as a whole.

In the context of information technology, this means unscrambling of systems and environments that are difficult for ordinary users to understand. We are talking about scalable containers, managing hybrid cloud and multi-cloud infrastructure, and navigating the cloud environment.

Automation is critical and is of key importance for efficiency, providing maximum simplicity both internally and externally to the enterprise environment. Therefore, this is going to be one of the main directions of development in custom software creation.

IT industry experts agree on their vision of the main trends of IT automation in 2021 - they will be aimed at making the work of people, processes, and tools easier. And as the volume of work with native cloud technologies grows, the task of automating all workflows becomes more relevant. As part of its solution, IT managers will be able to form teams and assign specialists more flexibly.

Let us draw your attention to other automation trends in 2021:

  • New automation mechanisms. Social distancing measures have severely limited communication between people. To keep customers and employees connected, businesses will have to use non-contact methods of interaction. In turn, this will lead to automation in areas that require direct contact between people. As a result, the automation of repetitive and routine tasks across the enterprise network will be accelerated.
  • Simplifying complex processes. 2020 was a challenging year for many companies. Many of them were forced to switch to remote operations. In 2021, the trend will not only continue but will gain large proportions. Automation is an effective way to make complex processes simpler, including solving problems with remote work and managing information technology in the cloud.

It is for this reason that many experts believe that 2021 will pass under the motto of combating the complexity of IT infrastructure, rather than simply moving it from one stack to another. Rather than introducing new experimental technologies, many businesses will opt for simplicity, repeatability, and automation so as not to cause themselves additional problems.

To reduce labor costs, infrastructure and operations teams in 2021 will prefer to invest in IT process automation that doesn't create additional complexity - the so-called SMART target optimization.

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Reducing implementation risk is something worth focusing on because the operational complexity associated with deployment, patching, rollbacks, validation, and monitoring is quite time-consuming.

  • Intelligent Digital Workspace. According to experts, by 2023, more than 3/4 of Forbes' Global 2000 companies will implement the intelligent workspace, allowing employees to work more effectively on both their own and collaborative projects.
  • RPA increase. In 2021, many companies will continue to use software bots and Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Continuous assembly, packaging, and app testing, as well as portable, extensible open-source platforms for managing containerized workloads and services, are the main range of automation tools that are now being heavily discussed among your dev dedicated team. At the same time, business units are more interested in RPAs and other forms of automation. In 2021, RPA functions will be extended with additional software solutions.

Messengers and Integration

The use of messengers in marketing is not new, however, it will become a real trend in 2021.

Let's take a look at the numbers:

  • 1.3 billion is the monthly active Facebook Messenger audience;
  • 2 billion messages per month in correspondence between customers and companies;
  • 1.3 billion is the monthly active audience of WhatsApp;
  • 55,000 messages participate in WhatsApp correspondence every day;
  • 1.5 billion users are the monthly audience of YouTube.

Businesses will begin to derive particular efficiencies from this channel when they move customer support to it. The synchronization of communication in messengers with CRM systems will yield excellent results, due to individualization and automation. Communication with customers in messengers will become a new key model for contact centers.

The platforms themselves are stimulating this trend in every way possible and are introducing new tools for integrating businesses into messengers. Whatsapp, a platform to support small businesses, providing the possibility to register a business account and an online store within the messenger. Telegram announced its intention to include monetization of the messenger by launching an advertising platform in 2021.

In 2021, the market is increasingly offering various solutions for almost every type of business activity. Integration of platforms, tools, products, and services can be implemented using different languages, technologies, and interfaces. Due to the current market situation, integrating the best custom solutions is extremely important for companies, as it will unite all departments into one efficiently working whole. And the one who does it faster wins - effective work with the client is crucial. In 2021, we expect even greater interest in the integration of business tools, especially within cloud services and messengers.

Cross-Platform Development

The competition is growing every day in many spheres, and if you have an idea for a startup, you need to validate it fast. Creating native apps takes a lot of time and money, and the product may eventually fail to meet your expectations. Therefore, it's worth opting for cross-platform. By sharing a common code base, developing your product for two platforms at once - iOS and Android - takes less time and budget. Plus, you can expect in-app updates, without the need to add a new version in the AppStore and GooglePlay.

Moreover, you can also integrate parts of React Native code even in out-of-the-box native apps. Thus Instagram, originally developed natively, added push notifications and post promotion to its app.

In 2021, more businesses will adopt cross-platform development because of its business benefits including:

  • Cost-efficiency – save money on programming in multiple languages for various devices;
  • Flexibility – compatible with all types of devices and seamless performance;
  • Uniformity – compatible code format and - all written in the same format;
  • Less effort – no need to develop the same code in many languages - use the same code with cross-platform development tools.

Voice Search and Navigation

Voice search is rapidly gaining popularity. And the development of technology in smartphones is among the main growth drivers. Thus, almost all modern models are equipped with a voice search option. The popularity of voice assistants (e.g., Alexa, Alice, Siri, etc.) and smart speakers (e.g. Google Home Assistant) also plays a great role.

More and more people are communicating with devices by voice, and with the help of evolving machine learning technologies, artificial intelligence is recognizing increasingly complex queries. Most of the devices that are now in your environment can hear you. These include phones, watches, laptops, and tablets. Many car functions can also be controlled by your voice. It all comes down to the fact that we need to physically touch a device less to perform a task.

According to the Global Digital Overview's study earlier this year, "voice interfaces are the most popular alternative to text-based search engines, with 45 percent of global internet users saying that they used voice search or voice commands in the past 30 days."

The rise in popularity of searching and navigating the web using voice is not surprising since it quickly solves the task and is easy to use. In this way, it becomes a habit. Every user on a subconscious level expects that any service provides a similar opportunity, and web developers are obliged to respond to this.

Voice search and web page navigation offer the following benefits:

  • Ease of use;
  • High-speed task performance;
  • Excellent user experience.

Users prefer to text as fast as possible. That's why they're increasingly using voice search. And therefore, web development will be closely connected with the implementation of such functionality.

Along with this, there is also a growing demand for optimizing web solutions for voice search in terms of SEO and other technical strategies. The first adopters are expected to have an additional advantage over competitors.

From a web development perspective, optimizing voice search requires working with the web speech API, which is divided into two components: speech recognition and speech synthesis. The first one allows you to understand voice queries, while the second one allows scripts to read textual content.

Internet of Things

Things like automated homes have long stopped surprising anyone - they are a common thing. Smart technology will even help find a runaway pet! Smart devices are paired with a mobile app and controlled by phone or remote control from almost anywhere. In today's world, the number of followers of the "Smart Device" belief is growing. Thus, the trend continues to be relevant and is increasingly integrated into our lives. With its help, we can monitor the needs and optimize the operation of systems and machines of different industries in real-time.

If an industry has something to automate, the IoT is bound to show up there. For example, right now, thanks to IoT, you are able to track your packages.

Mobile-First Approach. Progressive Web Apps and AMP

For a long time, the main trend in web development has been adaptability. But today it's a mandatory component of any site. After all, without it, not only does the user experience deteriorate but it also lowers the indexing rating in search engines.

Today, smartphones come to the forefront. Thus, one of the web development trends is to optimize website functionality for smartphones.

Progressive web apps are not a phenomenon this year. Nevertheless, the technology is attracting the attention of most investors and developers because of its ability to provide a quality user experience.

What are PWAs good for? Their main purpose is to allow users to browse websites in a mobile browser with the same speed and convenience as on a computer.

A distinctive feature of PWA is the ability to send push notifications without downloading additional apps. At the same time, push notifications are one of the trends in digital marketing.

Today, PWAs have already improved the quality of the following services:

  • Uber;
  • Twitter;
  • Smashing Magazine;
  • Pinterest.

Progressive web apps are changing the way we use the Internet. Not only are they fast to load but they also allow services to be used offline, performing the functions of native apps.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) started to get popular about a few years ago, and every year the technology attracts more investors and developers. Twitter, Uber, Instagram, Pinterest, Starbucks, Aviasales, and other brands use PWA-based apps as a core product or combined with a mobile app.

PWA Pros

  • View websites in a mobile browser with the same speed and convenience as on a computer, including offline;
  • Create a unified product experience on any device;
  • Reduce the development process (if compared to native apps);
  • Recognized by search engines.

PWA Cons

  • Missing traffic from the App Store and Google Play in the absence of a native app;
  • Limited functionality compared to native apps;
  • Drains battery quickly.

Bottom line: PWAs can be a good alternative or an add-on to native apps. The choice depends on business specifics and tasks.

Another option is AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). These pages load much faster than HTML, allowing the site to be saturated with rich animated content. AMP is already used in all web applications whose users actively use smartphones to log in to sites.

Cloud Matters

Forced remote work has accelerated the pace of business migration to the cloud consulting infrastructure, which favorably influenced the growth of the SaaS market. The main beneficiaries are IT companies, offering a variety of solutions to digitize communications and business processes. Tools for online teamwork have grown significantly. Along with this, businesses are becoming more dependent on servers and Internet availability.

Serverless technology is the result of finding ways to avoid system overload, data loss, or expensive development. Thus, cloud computing has become a solution that can replace conventional servers.

How will this help custom software development?

  • The reduced budget on development and support;
  • Reinforced application architecture;
  • Increased flexibility.

With serverless technology, tasks such as uploading backup files, delivering notifications, and exporting objects will be very fast. In other words, serverless architecture is another trend that will very much change the approach to web and custom software development.

In 2020, we've already seen some massive cloud infrastructure crashes at Google, Amazon, and Telegram, resulting in several hours of business downtime. We have also seen how an internet lockdown can even trigger the migration of IT companies.

In 2021, we will face no less loud "digital lockdowns". Therefore, this year, the role of system administrators and DevOps engineers will become more important, and businesses will be more responsible in terms of backing up data and developing protocols to handle server unavailability.

Chatbots and AI

These days, we can clearly see that AI is not just hype or a tribute to fashion but a full-fledged trend that helps solve complex tasks in different business areas. PwC found that executives among the most effective AI solutions are virtual assistants (31%), analytics (29%), and chatbots (28%). Gartner predicts that by 2022, 70% of customer interactions will occur using machine learning technologies and chatbots.

Chatbots are an important software development trend in 2021. AI-powered technology uses an instant messaging format to stay in touch with customers 24/7. Virtual assistants offer great customer service - they're responsive, fast, accurate, and never lose patience.

By 2021, chatbots will help companies save $8 billion a year, especially in the banking and healthcare industries. For example, many companies are developing full-fledged AI-based virtual medical assistants who can support patients 24/7 and refer them to the right expert in case of an emergency. Also, AI-based chatbots are most in-demand in retail and other industries where the question of personalizing the customer experience matters most.

Most of the bots currently in use around the world lack payment functionality. So far, only Facebook Messenger (Beta) and Telegram are able to make payments without the help of external systems. This is expected to change in the near future so that shopping with chatbots will become easier and more convenient.

Today, AI mimics human behavior at an advanced level. It's capable of performing many cognitive functions, such as:

  • Learning;
  • Data collection;
  • Analysis;
  • Automation.

Many users today are not even surprised to know that AI is involved on most websites. It has created a new dimension in web development. So, today you don't have to spend weeks brainstorming when developing functional websites - AI simplifies most processes while providing quality service.

The most common way to use AI today is to add chatbots to a website. But this relates directly to functionality and user experience. In website development itself, AI is applied at almost every step from deployment to testing.

ARM Revolution 2.0

Mobile development trends are actively influenced by the emergence of new technologies. Last November, Apple held another presentation, this time introducing new models of its computers with its own processor based on ARM architecture - M1.

This transition allowed for transferring apps from iOS to macOS, without changing them. The apps are already adapted to the new architecture. Mobile and desktop development will become identical in the Apple ecosystem. Thus, any application developed for iOS will work on a Macbook. That is, having a laptop on the M1 processor, you can go to the AppStore, download a game for your iPhone, and run it on your computer.

The line between iOS and macOS becomes transparent.

Apps developed on iOS will be available on all devices. Earlier apps were made separately for iOS and separately for macOS, but Apple, in turn, provides a new ecosystem - the basis for development in the form of tools, allowing the app, written on Intel, to work on M1.


Remember that despite changing approaches, technology stacks, and ideas, the main global trends remain simplifying everything and providing a quality user experience. These trends are eternal.

All of the custom software development trends we've listed have one important similarity: they are all designed to make the user experience more immersive, simpler, and faster, therefore, accelerating and optimizing life processes.

Times are changing fast. Being irrelevant is unacceptable, and keeping up with trends is a must.

Guest post by Dmytro Sokhach is an entrepreneur and the 6-Figure Flipper Club member. Founded Admix Global (web agency) that builds websites, makes them profitable, and sells them as a business.