What Data Nerds Say About the Future of Data and Apps

infodetail3Late last year, New Relic conducted a survey on what people thought would be important about big data in 2015, and hundreds of data nerds responded. We shared some of their Twitter responses in January, and last week we posted an awesome infographic and an analysis based on survey results predicting that 2015 would be the Year of the Data Nerd.

That kind of quantitative data is always valuable. (We’re data nerds, too, you know!) But the survey also asked a couple of open-ended questions that generated some very interesting replies that we wanted to share.

Last year’s surprises

We asked, “What was the most surprising change in the way your company invested in, built, or ran applications in 2014?” and many responses described specific moves toward digital transformation, with mobile leading the way:

  • Focus on mobile-first
  • Development of mobile-friendly data apps
  • We invested in upgrading our customer journey to make it more mobile friendly

Some respondents thought process changes were important:

  • Move to Scrum in a big way
  • Introduced Scrum to improve the team culture and feature list
  • Move to Agile for DevOps
  • Agile & ad-hoc. Be flexible. Be nimble. #adaptordie
  • We centralized responsibility for releases with one team, creating way less chaos
  • Rapid development meant Dev was responsible for its own testing and QA
  • A greater focus on UX research and usability testing, which is becoming more & more important
  • Started building tests before deployments
  • Utilizing data to enhance performance and identify areas for future work
  • Sprint cycle software development with new releases every 3 weeks
  • We invested in build automation so that we can do hot deployments

Other respondents were focused on data:

  • Data analysis and feeds are given the most priority in software processes
  • Invested more in data analytics
  • We invested in APM to determine where our software was broken, not performing, or otherwise not behaving as we expected
  • Much smarter about making data-driven business decisions

We especially loved the inspirational stories of success:

  • More use of data turned into far bigger returns than expected
  • Data is the modern Holy Grail. Accept it and embrace it, use it to succeed
  • 2014 was a year of tremendous growth and learning at our company. We implemented a lean culture while adopting technology to achieve success!
  • We prototyped often. We failed fast and learned from our early failures. Our retrospectives were meaningful
  • Invested in brand-new technologies and explored new avenues for innovation, leaving our old monolith in the dust completely
  • Experimentation with end-user A/B testing and encouraging their feedback has led to the creation of new products and revenue streams
  • Data-driven decision making helped us off many perches

info-detail1On the other hand, we also saw a few expressions of abject despair:

  • My company didn’t change
  • Sadly no surprises. Usual battles of outsourcing without proper specification
  • No change. Continued in non-Agile fashion.
  • Dogmatic closed-minded, non-customer centric IT infrastructure
  • Not changed! Fear of change culture
  • Sad. #deficient
  • I can’t believe we just rolled out another platform without a way to analyze it
  • We just haven’t done anything in this area and it’s quite disappointing!
  • Don’t go there
  • We screwed everything up, in every possible way

This year’s predictions

But that question is so last year! To truly understand the Year of the Data Nerd, you need to look forward, not back. So we also asked, “What’s the ‘next big thing’ that you expect will impact how you build and run your applications in 2015?”

Here, the predictions ranged from big picture changes to the totally specific.  General predictions included:

  • Analytics will drive business decisions
  • Tools to have readable data at your fingertips to assist business decisions.
  • Complete automation of data collection through connected devices
  • Reducing time to market
  • Predictive analytics could be our salvation
  • IoT is the next big thing in 2015
  • Data analysis and analytics are the future
  • Big data analytics in concert with customer experience improving software
  • Predictive analytics could be our salvation
  • Cross-channel attribution will become business critical in 2015!
  • More demand for visual depictions of data

Many respondents were specifically interested in speeding their deployments, with several simply saying “continuous delivery”:

  • CI—deploy like there were no tomorrow!
  • We will move towards a continuous delivery system to be able to release more often
  • Continuous Development and automated deployments
  • Continual improvement of products rather than a one-off launch—which means subscription pricing rather than one-off quotes
  • We will move towards a continuous delivery system to be able to release more often
  • Easy— easy deployment
  • Automated delivery is the next step to increase user engagement to show new features more often
  • Better deploy practices
  • I hope the app will launch more often

infodetail2Other respondents looked forward into the cloud. Again, many people just wrote “cloud,” while others were more specific (Amazon Web Services got plenty of love):

  • Highly scalable cloud infrastructure that will allow up to grow quickly without intense capital investment.
  • Run cloud computing to larger extent
  • Cloud enabled agility
  • Cloud hosting rather than local deployment
  • AWS hosted applications
  • Moving to the cloud
  • Mobile and Cloud technology
  • Cloud integration SWiM
  • Not really a big thing but leveraging all aspects of cloud computing
  • Cloud technology and big data will help us save more lives with less money
  • More cloud, more technologies, more data
  • Cloud based responsive design applications.
  • Run cloud computing to larger extent
  • Octopus and cloud for the win

And finally, containers, and especially Docker, seemed to capture the imaginations of many respondents (yup, several people just said “Docker”):

  • Internal clouds and containers
  • Application Containers
  • Cross application communications
  • Docker, by the end of 2015

But here’s my absolute favorite prediction for the Year of the Data Nerd:

  • We’re going to get farmers doing analytics in their barns!

I certainly hope so!

For more on our Year of the Data Nerd survey, see also:


Fredric Paul (aka The Freditor) is Editor in Chief for New Relic. He's an award-winning writer, editor, and content strategist who has held senior editorial positions at ReadWrite, AllBusiness.com, InformationWeek, CNET, Electronic Entertainment, PC World, and PC|Computing. His writing has appeared in MIT Technology Review, Omni, Conde Nast Traveler, and Newsweek, among other places. View posts by .

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