Co-founder and CEO of AppGyver
COVID-19 proved to a lot of organizations that we’re not as digital as we like to think we are – even today’s top enterprises are still relatively ‘old-school’ and are behind in their digitalization progress.
For most enterprises, there are numerous apps and other software that could make dramatic improvements to their unique business processes, but they usually never see the light of day, much to the frustration of its business units. IT departments are under-resourced and over-worked trying to maintain critical business functions, and simply can’t take on new implementation projects.
In addition, CIOs and CTOs are taking lots of boardroom fire over a lack of new projects and the performance of IT.
The way we approach software development needs to change, and it needs to happen fast. While the opinions on the solution may vary depending on whom you ask, there is one thing that everyone can agree on: we’re not digitalizing fast enough.
Challengers to traditional development methods, such as no-code platforms that use visual programming, were earlier unable to handle the complexity required by mission-critical software. But now they have matured to the point where their distant relatives from five years ago seem archaic. That’s why CIOs and CTOs should take another look.
Here are five reasons why now is the time to embrace visual programming solutions in your organization.
1. Democratize innovation and tear down silos
Business units such as Legal and Finance were created in large organizations to allow specialized, expert teams to focus on performing specific functions, with IT operating as the technology enabler.
Yet, these business units form silos that often stifle innovation. IT departments usually fail to fully understand the needs of the business units, and employees from other departments cannot extensively communicate their needs to an already under-resourced IT department, who are bogged down trying to maintain their current systems.
Typically, employees don’t have the capability to build and implement software solutions end-to-end themselves, but they are the ones who are most aware of the bottlenecks and problems faced internally and by their customers every day.
Visual app platforms offer a potential solution to this problem. They allow apps to be built asynchronously between teams, with component libraries and IPR shared throughout the organization. A platform approach democratizes the development so that employees can explore new solutions and business models to better serve their own needs and their customers’ needs. Once they have designed and proved the practicality of their idea through an MVP or a prototype, the project can be passed to IT for integration to production systems, safe in the knowledge that most of the app functionality has been pre-approved by IT.
This whole approach creates a culture of innovation and enables better efficiency, processes, and governance in the organization.
The majority of enterprise software today is being built with traditional development methods, which are very hard to scale, especially for organizations that are not first and foremost software companies. In our experience, enterprises are way behind the number of apps they need vs. the number of business problems they would like to solve.
For most organizations, the top tier developer teams focus on client-facing applications, while the internal needs of business units are being neglected. Some organizations have outsourced all internal business app development to subcontractors. But even then, without a platform approach, the management of a large fleet of applications built by multiple partners is really hard.
The ideal way would be to enable internal teams within the business units to build the solutions for optimal visibility and closed-loop iteration. With traditional development methods, this is practically impossible, which is one of the reasons why enterprises are getting more interested in no-code tools.
Keeping the software up-to-date
Software is constantly changing and updating. When Apple rolls out their new iOS version, or there’s a major version upgrade available for a framework you use, such as React Native, you need your senior developers to update projects one-by-one, according to the individual requirements of the update. If you have dozens of applications, you can see why IT departments have little time to do new projects.
With no-code platforms, the client runtime layer is managed in a centralized fashion by the platform vendor, meaning you don’t have to solve these hard problems. The vendor does all the hard work once, and all the employees and customers can enjoy the benefits.
3. Fail faster (and cheaper)
No-code platforms are much less expensive than outsourcing your apps and can cut development time by 10x or more. The speed of app development with no-code tools gets even faster after each developed app is completed, thanks to components from completed apps being immediately available for use in future projects.
If a project fails, it fails fast – and inexpensively – meaning business units can rethink their approach and develop solutions rapidly without sinking massive amounts of resources into each iteration, and encourage more innovation.
4. Platform security
Security is an integral part of all enterprise software, including mobile applications. If your apps are outsourced or built in-house on tight schedules, there could be significant risks in their security.
Visual app development platforms can be a more secure alternative for organizations, as many of the necessary security considerations have already been resolved on the platform level and come built-in. If a security component needs organization-specific configuration, such as end-to-end encryption, IT can develop it once and make it available for all in a standardized fashion.
The benefits of a platform approach become evident when it’s time to update an integration end-point or change security policy. Instead of separately requesting updates to all the custom software built by multiple partners – and trying to manage it – the IT team can make a single update to a centralized component and roll it out to all apps. The governance aspect of the no-code platforms is one of the key selling points to many CIOs and CTOs.
5. Hiring talent becomes easier
The demand for highly-experienced senior developers is continually growing, yet there is a significant lack of talent available on the market. The average time between two jobs for a developer is a mere 48 hours on average.
Outsourcing can get you a top-notch team that knows how to deliver a great product, but the cost is often prohibitively high, and once the team departs, you might be left with no in-house technical knowledge on the projects. In addition, many enterprises see it strategically important to have internal software teams to control one of the key enablers of staying competitive.
For companies looking to develop software in-house, no-code development platforms can offer an alternative to hiring only senior talent. By using visual tools, junior developers can build and maintain professional apps that are significantly more complex and abstract than what they could code traditionally.
The current method of software development is unsustainable, and the only way for organizations to execute and deliver on their digitalization efforts is to adopt new methods and tools that speed things up.
The response to COVID has shown us what’s possible in a short amount of time. Going forward – people are demanding more and more digital services than ever before. Adopting a no-code strategy can expedite your digitalization process and give your IT department the time to focus on what they love to do – solve unique problems and make great software.
Previously published here.