Interestingly, all the themes and areas listed in the title are currently under intensive development and advancement. While the terms are not exactly defined and may involve different things in different organizational and business contexts, they entail in general such topics and issues as the following:
- Digitalization means incorporating digital elements (e.g., new information systems) for example to automate work processes.
- Data is increasingly collected, processed, stored, and shared in digital systems (e.g., IoT).
- Artificial intelligence technology systems (e.g., machine learning) are based on digital data.
- 6G telecommunications systems incorporate complex control and signal processing functionalities.
- Smart energy systems build on advanced automation and control systems (see for instance here).
- Circular economy organizations and services rely more and more on digital systems (e.g., platforms).
Strikingly, all the above incorporate and rely more and more on software technology—even as a key enabling technology (KET) without directly stating so. Someone or something must develop and maintain all that software. Consequently, even many traditional, non-ICT companies and organizations (e.g., financial sector) need more software and related technological competences and capabilities. That entails not just software development but also the expertise to apply software technological solutions for instance in various business process areas and organizational functions. Overall, there is a global lack of such software-related resources, and that may even limit the growth of many companies—perhaps even more so in the future, given that the amount and sophistication of needed software development seems to be continuously increasing.
For the software research, the above brings many intriguing and significant drivers and targets, such as:
- Increasing the overall productivity of software development
- Continuously maintaining (and enhancing) existing and growing, connected software systems—including “legacy” systems, possibly with old-fashioned architectural dependencies and outdated technological elements
- Recognizing and discerning opportunities and needs for software-based solutions and systems in new product/service and business areas
Some of those may include significant new and open software development and technological research questions while some may be more about applying currently existing research knowledge and results. It is imperative to realize that to advance effective and meaningful software engineering research.