How to speed enterprise app development and meet digital transformation demands

Speed is the key to digital transformation. In fact, to paraphrase a recent Forrester Research article, companies have the choice of either going fast or going home. That’s because competition is no longer a matter of size, but rather velocity and those companies that fail to innovate quickly will find themselves getting left behind in the dust.

So what does this need for speed actually mean for IT teams that have to support enterprise digital transformation initiatives? And how can today’s IT teams keep up with the insatiable demand for ever more apps, devices, data, and connected things? We’ve clearly reached the point where we can no longer tweak around the edges by simply changing procedural approaches to software development. Instead, today’s competitive market is forcing us to re-think how IT teams develop enterprise applications.

Over the past decade the tidal shift from waterfall to agile development has given IT teams a glimpse of a new kind of speed. The gains were real and helped accelerate many companies into a new digital era. And yet invariably most companies still hit a wall.

That’s why these days we’re looking for a new kind of agility that comes with a radically different approach to application development. Low-code, rapid application development platforms have recently been thrust into the spotlight as a transformative technology that can propel IT organisations into the digital world at breakneck speeds.

A closer look at low-code

Forrester came out ahead of many pundits when it coined the term “low-code,” which it defined as “platforms that enable rapid delivery of business applications with a minimum of hand-coding and minimal investment in set-up, training, and deployment.”

According to Forrester, application development professionals see these platforms as a way to deliver applications faster in order to win, serve, and retain customers. This need to meet overwhelming customer appetite for digital access is driving the demand for low-code development platforms and fuelling market growth. In the process, application developers are gaining confidence that low-code platforms can support fast delivery of even large and highly complex customer solutions.

That said, the definition of what constitutes a low-code platform is somewhat broad. Vendors are jumping on the low-code bandwagon as the demand for category of rapid app development solutions really takes off.

Many of the products and platforms deemed “low-code” have vastly different capabilities. And as in any hot market, buzzwords abound creating confusion. Pure-play through to tangential players use the same terminology, yet solve very different problems. For example, some so-called low-code platforms are great for workflow improvements but don’t provide a viable option for creating a mobile banking app or a customer service portal. Similarly, some citizen developer technologies are great for building lightweight apps, but fall drastically short when it comes to building an enterprise-grade app complete with integration, governance, and scalability.

Speed matters, but so does choosing the right vendor

When it comes to digital transformation, the need for speed is so acute that companies have no choice but to take action. Many IT managers realise that their careers are at stake as they look for options to help them transform their mission-critical systems and for ways to help them rapidly build enterprise-grade apps to accelerate digital transformation.

My advice is to make sure that you choose a vendor that has the capabilities to meet your demands and don’t be hoodwinked by false claims. Ask to talk to some of their customers, go into developer forums, look at analyst reports, and really do your due diligence.

Don’t gamble with your business-critical systems, otherwise you might find your digital transformation project going off the rails.

Eduardo Cruz, VP UK and Ireland, OutSystems

 Image source: Shutterstock/31moonlight31