The State of Application Development in 2021

By Jayraj | Last Updated on January 5th, 2021 11:20 am | 5-min read
State of Application Development - Appy Pie

Application Development is continuously evolving. The IT industry has always been characterized by the continuous evolution of technology and digital disruption. While news keeps updating us of what’s going on in the app development sector, it is not enough. Keeping that in mind, we’ve researched and studied the app development industry’s evolution to find the ground reality of how things are and how things will be.

The question we are trying to answer is how mobile and how dynamic the app industry truly is. Along the way, we’ve found surprising statistics and trends that characterize the industry. Compiling our results from various sources and surveys we’ve given a detailed account of what the app development industry truly faces.

Compiling the results together, we’ve created a concise PDF that can be found at the end of this blog. This blog covers the major findings of the research. Let us get on with it.

The State of Application Development - Appy Pie

Major Findings of the Survey

  1. Digital Transformation is Slow

    Digital Transformation is slower than anticipated earlier and all firms are in the midst of it with varying degrees of success. Digital transformation is very slow and faces various challenges. All respondents agreed that digital transformation is necessary and 68% of the respondents prioritized 4 goals:

    • Improved Agility
    • Cost Reduction
    • Growth in New Markets
    • Evolving Customer Behaviors

    The State of Application Development - Appy Pie

    However, there is a certain lack of maturity in their goals. Progress has been very slow for the past few years. On further questioning, it was revealed that the efforts for digital transformation were widespread, but they lacked strategy. This has slowed down digital transformation considerably.

    In our attempt to assess the maturity of digital transformation, we created a Digital Maturity Assessment Scale and recorded responses accordingly.

  2. The State of Application Development - Appy Pie
    Here are the results for the same.
    The State of Application Development - Appy Pie

  3. Disruption is a Concern

    Digital transformation is driven by the fear of disruption and it is an even bigger concern in 2021. Most organizations term agility as an important deciding factor against disruption. The chart below shows the major disruptive forces of 2021.

  4. The State of Application Development - Appy Pie
    There is a considerable difference in what is thought to be the most disruptive force and different industries have different views on the disruptive factors. Each industry differs on what is more disruptive but nearly 80% of respondents ranked Changes in Customer preference as a key disruptive factor.

  5. Demand is rising

    The first piece of good news is that application demand is at an all-time high. Companies with 500 employees or more plan to deliver 10 or more apps in 2021. In fact, here’s how the response splits for companies with more than 500 employees.

  6. The State of Application Development - Appy Pie
    However, development times are still long, and the increased demand isn’t just limited to new apps. There is a conflict in innovation and maintenance. Older apps require constant maintenance and this rise is exponentially higher than the rise of new apps. There is a clean 65-35 split between maintenance and innovation respectively. More resources are required to maintain an app than to create one.

  7. Development Time is slightly faster

    While development takes longer, given how many features each app packs, respondents were split on whether app development has become faster over the year. Around 43% say that app dev is as fast as it used to be and are unsure of the trend.

    The Pie chart below is the split of responses of the respondents.
    The State of Application Development - Appy Pie

    The developers do agree that software has increased. 68% of respondents believe that software updates are released in 1-3 months. Here is a split of software cadence by the organization.
    The State of Application Development - Appy Pie

    Overall, while the development of new apps is slower, when combined with maintenance of older apps and updates in them, development speed has been shown to improve.

    To know more about what the organizations are doing to increase their development speeds.

  8. Backlogs are still long

    The biggest challenge faced by the IT industry is backlog. Backlogs are very long, and they are consistent in all firms, be it 10 employees or a thousand. These backlogs have remained the same when compared to last year. The bad news is that 11% of respondents agree that their backlog is getting worse.

    When asked what was causing backlogs and what was slowing down app delivery, this is what the response was:
    The State of Application Development - Appy Pie
    The PDF goes into more detail on how backlogs can be dealt with and what technologies are being adopted by companies to decrease backlogs.

  9. Skilled Developers are Needed

    Developer headcount has been increasing over time. More and more developers are being hired and hiring IT staff has become difficult over time. Many organizations are finding it difficult to find developers with the right technical proficiency and skill.

    Here is a split of what developers were the most hired over the previous year.
    The State of Application Development - Appy Pie

    Over the year, there has been a consistent lack of AI/machine learning, cybersecurity, IoT and full-stack developers. Skilled developers are extremely rare in this field and more of them are needed.

    However, when respondents were asked to hire what developers were a priority, this is what the developers responded with.

  10. The State of Application Development - Appy Pie

  11. Customer-Centric practices are on the rise

    Customer-centric practices are on the rise. As mentioned above, changes in customer perception are the greatest potential disruptive factor in the industry. Keeping that in mind, being customer-centric is key for all organizations and respondents almost unanimously agree to it.

  12. The rise of no-code

    The greatest positive out of the year is the rise of no-code. The usage of no-code software has doubled in the last year. Nearly 50% of respondents said that their companies were either using no code or have almost started using it.

    No code is exclusively being used for customer-facing software and continues to rise in popularity and given below is a list of projects that use no-code and how many of them are made using no-code software.
    The State of Application Development - Appy Pie

    When asked why they were using no code, respondents’ replies were pretty unanimous, and the following replies were common.
    The State of Application Development - Appy Pie
    Satisfaction among no code users has also risen from last year when compared to respondents not using no-code. Organizations using no code have an advantage compared to those who don’t with an average of 8%.


Overall, those were the major findings of our survey of what is really going on with the trends in app development. If you want to explore further and truly gauge the state of application development, you can download this PDF.

The PDF describes much more and gives a more detailed view on how things are changing and how organizations around the world are responding.

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About The Author

Jayraj is a content writer whose goal in life is to be a polymath. He's not there yet but his quest has given him extensive knowledge about many things. He tries to share his knowledge by writing. In his free time, he surfs the Internet and takes long walks.

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