Digital transformation is today’s dominating business strategy. Achieving continuous digital transformation translates into increased enterprise agility, accelerated innovation, improved efficiency, reduced costs, increased margins, sustainable growth in new markets, and satisfaction of customer driven demands. Basically, enterprise success and music to your CEO’s ears! There are, however, a myriad of issues preventing businesses from actually discovering the holy grail – how to continuously innovate digitally at scale. Legacy debt, scarce skilled resources, IT backlog, focus on maintenance instead of innovation, slow enterprise application delivery cycles, and misperceptions of what new technologies can deliver, just a few.
One frequently cited problem specifically related to enterprise application development is a lack of collaboration between the IT Department and the business line, which exacerbates app dev backlog. In a recent study, 64% of IT professionals surveyed acknowledged suffering from application development backlog, 19% of which, indicated the backlog exceeds ten apps. Existing logjam is only compounded by the relentless demand for new custom apps. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed planned to deliver ten or more new business apps in 2019, and thirty-eight per cent planned to deliver at least twenty-five new apps. Notably, the two top types of apps planned are those used directly by customers and business partners; and, apps that support internal processes and operations, including analytics. The demand for, and backlog of, these specific types of enterprise apps highlights the need to bring collaboration between the IT department and the business line into the world of enterprise application development.
The line of business, affectionately “LOB”, are those folks on the front lines of customer facing and B2B interaction. They are the people relying on the apps that support internal processes and operations. The LOB wants to do business better, smarter, and faster. LOB requirements are not only driven by a desire to make LOB operations more digitally efficient, but are also compelled by the need to meet customer expectations, achieve differentiation, and secure competitive advantage. Recognizing that technology has the power to deliver these enterprise necessities, the LOB wants more now, and more again.
While IT is more than capable of responding to LOB requirements, those requirements constantly change and evolve. Manual code-based development is slow and time consuming. Often, new applications do not meet business and user expectations, requiring IT to re-test, debug, re-iterate, repeat. Then throw in legacy debt, underpinning inflexible systems that are impossible to customize and slow to scale. The negative impact of slow development transcends the enterprise, pulling it farther and farther away from digital transformation. Skilled IT resources buried in maintenance, backlog, and keeping the servers running, are unable to deliver business critical apps fast enough, and have no time for innovation. When IT can’t keep up with LOB demand, LOB loses faith in IT. Both need a solution.
New technologies make it possible for sophisticated enterprise applications to be architectured for continuous innovation, customization and scale over time. Of the IT professionals surveyed, sixteen per cent have introduced no code platforms, used by the business line in collaboration with IT. These platforms dramatically reduce the application lifecycle by replacing code with visual app building so that IT can stop recreating the wheel and blaze through development cycles. Using no code tools for app development also provides an escape hatch from legacy debt. Platforms such as Crowd Machine, give IT organizations the ability to quickly (in a no-code manner) deconstruct existing monolithic applications and processes into nimble functional subsets of microservices. Microservices can consist of any functional requirement, and can be standalone functional units or complete applications. Microservices are controlled by the IT Department to ensure compliance with corporate solutions, data and security policies, overcoming fears associated with shadow IT.
Within this type of continuous adaptive environment, the business line can self-serve upon the IT created microservices by snapping the functional components together, thereby meeting any immediate business line requirement and rendering compliant solutions. The functional components can also link multiple legacy systems, enabling process invocation and data visualization from disparate sources. Consider a scenario where a process in SAP requires data from PeopleSoft and Salesforce as well as user interaction to function. The IT Department could create a functional component that, based upon some user input, extracted data from the PeopleSoft and Salesforce solutions, executed a set of logic, in the form of Crowd App Studio rules, and then invoked the SAP process in the background, without leaving the interface. The component could also be linked to other functional components that display the status of the process to the user, that they can optionally include in their experience.
The evolution of technology requires a collaborative approach between LOB and IT. No code app development does not undermine the importance, credibility or significance of IT. To the contrary, no code empowers IT to deliver apps to the business line at unprecedented speed. In this continuous adaptive ecosystem, IT creates and governs the functionality that the LOB consumes. Simply stated, IT whips up a buffet of functionality, and says hey LOB, get a plate, and feed yourself. By utilizing this type of app architecture, companies like Crowd Machine, redefine the IT-LOB relationship, empower collaboration, eliminate backlog, increase productivity, drive innovation and deliver continuous digital transformation to enterprise.
 The State of Applications Development, Outsystems, 2019/2020.
 Id., p.14.
 Id., p.32.