How can we tell what’s next in the Tech world?

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Every year Tikal publishes its Tech Radar. The radar, among other things, tries to forecast where the tech world is headed, what the trends are, and which software, libraries, and systems will most likely conquer the software development arena. So, how can we tell? What are the tools we have to build such a thing? This post details the process of creating such a Tech Radar.

What Is Tikal’s Tech Radar?

The Tech Radar contains two parts; the first, a list of tools, frameworks, libraries, methodologies, and systems that software companies use to develop their software. The second, an inventory of significant trends influencing the software industry in the upcoming years.

The list of tools is laid out much like the Thoughtworks Tech Radar. They are divided into four categories: Frontend, Backend & AI, DevOps, and Mobile development. Each category consists of a long list of technologies. Each technology is placed into one of four rings:

  • Try — this ring contains the newest technologies, the ones which are recommended to try using. Those technologies are most likely to be prominent in years to come; however, not all will mature enough to become stable and gain sufficient traction to make it to the main stage of software development.
  • Start — this ring contains technologies that are more mature than those in the Try ring, and we are witnessing a start of adoption of it by companies. Still, not everyone heard of them, and they are not yet considered mainstream technologies.
  • Keep — the technologies in this ring are well known and used by many software companies in their product foundation.
  • Stop — technologies listed in this ring are the ones we believe are outdated and on their way to becoming obsolete. The reasons can be diverse, but the main ones are: better alternatives and staying relevant to attract potential developers.

The Radar trends consist of DevOps, Frontend, Mobile, and Backend topics, which we predict as trending and gaining traction in the upcoming years. Constant research, and the lead of many projects, give us a broad perspective of those emerging trends.

The Tech Radar Trends

How can we tell?

So, how can we tell, especially the predictive parts of the radar? What gives us the power to take an educated guess about the future of the software development world? Here are the empowering ingredients.

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The Tikal Experience

Tikal is an expert company providing software solutions to tech companies in Israel and the US. There are over 130 experts in the main fields of software development; Backend, Frontend, DevOps, Mobile, and AI. Our engineers join our clients’ development teams, usually at the preliminary part of their development, and participate, alongside the customers’ engineers, in the design and development processes.

Working with companies of various sizes and exposed to various technologies and methodologies gives us a broad perspective of the software world, what works and what doesn’t, while closely monitoring emerging technologies.

Culture, Culture, Culture

Tikal experts are expected to bring their experience, share their knowledge, and often lead the project’s technical aspects. To prepare for projects ahead, we build their expertise outside of the assignment they are currently working on and look ahead towards technologies that are yet to become mainstream. A Tikal expert is continuously encouraged to research the software arena for tools and frameworks they have yet had the chance to use. Looking ahead is an integral part of the routine at Tikal.

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How do we do it?

Tikal’s Tech Radar is updated periodically, preceded by months of participation. The methodology is as follows:

Research

Each group (Mobile, Frontend, Devops, and Backend) has a small team of experts composing the “Tech Circle”, which is in charge of conducting constant research for new technologies. The circle meets every two weeks and discusses the latest technologies. The gathering is comprised of two parts:

  1. Tech News — a round table discussion in which the members describe technologies they’ve either read about or have experience with. The technologies mentioned in these discussions are fed into a database, built much like the radar, with rings (try, start, keep and stop), but this time with a fifth ring called “Research”. All the new technologies are added to this fifth ring.
  2. Lightning Talks — every meeting, a different member of the circle gives a lightning talk about an item from the “Research” ring they decided to research. The lightning talk (20–30 minutes) includes:
  • Short presentation
  • Hands-on demonstration of the tool.
  • Comparison to other tools in its stack
  • Use cases in which developers should consider this tool.

The lightning talk is followed by an open discussion in which the members express their thoughts about the tool.

Building the Radar

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Before we publish the update, the tech circle members assemble for a full-day meeting, going over all the technologies in the various rings, including the “Research” ring, and discussing their relevance. We bring to this meeting the experience we gained throughout the work with our customers and the research done in the previous months.

We go over each tool, and we discuss its relevance in its current ring:

  • Research ring — we discuss whether we should move the technologies here to the Try ring. We pick the ones we believe are mature enough to evaluate and become a viable alternative to existing technologies or even solve problems in a new way.
  • Try ring — We ask ourselves whether the previous radar’s Try ring technologies have matured enough to move to the Start ring. Some will be transferred to the Start ring, and the ones that have not evolved enough might be dropped from the radar.
  • Start ring — much like the Try ring, we discuss whether the Start ring tools have become mainstream tools and have been adopted by many companies. In such cases, we move them to the Keep ring. Some might stay in this ring for another round.
  • Keep ring — naturally, it is the largest ring. Tools and technologies that continue to be mainstream are left in this ring, and we drop only the ones that are not relevant anymore. As it takes several years for a mainstream technology to fade, this ring contains the largest number of tools.
  • Stop ring — adding tools to this ring is usually done after Tikal concludes this technology is outdated or has much better alternatives in the Keep ring. We also remove tools from this ring if it is already clear to the community that it shouldn’t use them anymore.

Software engineers are usually opinionated human beings. Sometimes it is hard to agree about the position of a specific tool or technology. In such cases, we typically conclude by voting for it.

Conclusion

Constant research, broad experience, and the opinion of dozens of experts are great resources to build a tech radar and forecast the next big thing. We are proud of Tikal’s knowledge gained throughout the years, and we are glad to share this knowledge with the community. Stay tuned for the next update!


How can we tell what’s next in the Tech world? was originally published in Everything Full Stack on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Big Data Architect & Machine Learning Engineer

Backend Group

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