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Automated programming: The future of enterprise apps

When people think of automation in the enterprise sector, they think mainly about the data centre, in which tools like Ansible allow you to manage an entire infrastructure using automation. But this efficiency can be replicated for software development, by products that help automate programming of apps.

To understand the efficiency that automated programming could bring to an industry, consider agriculture. Automation has made it so that a single farmer can supply food for more than five times as many people as she could in the 1960s. And that’s an industry with finite physical resources. In the virtual world, the increase in efficiency could be much greater.

Most code is not written; it’s rewritten. For this reason, a platform that can complete coding and development tasks automatically could turn a once time-consuming and expensive process into a cost-effective and more efficient endeavor.

The apps you need, faster

Whether you’re developing an app for in-house purposes, creating one to sell directly to customers, or making your app your business, a prolonged deployment schedule can undercut (and, in some cases, obliterate) an app’s effectiveness.

Development tools that use automation can cut development time and product life cycles from months or years to a matter of weeks. Increased efficiency not only allows you to get a working product out to users faster, but it also means you can iterate on those apps on a much shorter timeline.

Rather than spending, say, eighty per cent of your time maintaining an app and only having the remaining twenty per cent for developing new ideas, automation could very well reverse that ratio. Utilising automation to race through the 'solved problems' frees up time to focus on pushing the boundaries. And, because the time and effort it takes to develop new products is reduced, the risks in trying out new ideas are not nearly as grave — which ultimately gives companies greater licence to innovate.

Less is more: how to get the most out of developers

In addition to shorter development cycles, automation can help reduce the technical workload required of developers. A recent study showed that enterprises are deploying an average of thirty five enterprise apps each year, with more than seventy per cent of those apps being built for iOS devices. And these numbers are growing. More enterprises are seeing the value in deploying app across their organisations each year.

There are more companies that need apps developed than there are skilled developers available, which is a reality especially prevalent in mobile. Assuming you’re even able to hire the talent you need, you’ll most likely be paying quite a bit for the privilege. Now is a great time to be a developer. As a student of economics, the war for developer talent is particularly interesting.

The fact that you can offer enormous salaries and will still have a talent shortage means your best chance of reducing costs is not by hiring better, faster, or cheaper employees, but by reducing the overall work they need to do. Automation that extends outside of the data centre and into software development teams will be a great enabler.

Increasing use of automation technologies won’t render coders obsolete; it will reduce the number of repetitive tasks in their workloads so they can focus more on adding value through innovation.

This will allow programmers to worry about more practical problems instead of getting bogged down in apps’ underlying architecture.

Streamlining communication, encouraging collaboration

The problem with leaving app development up to a handful of people is that they might not understand the needs of every department or individual who will use the app. The more diverse a group working together on an app — beyond just developers — the better the chances are of ending up with something that suits your business’ needs. Enabling communication and promoting the sharing of feedback among these people is what will move the app forward.

Additionally, keeping stakeholders involved throughout all key stages allows you to discern what’s working (and what isn’t) much sooner. And, because development cycles are shorter, this type of feedback can be acted upon more quickly. Automation makes the whole process cheaper: You won’t face several months of development, downtime while you’re waiting for feedback, and then more months of development.

Just the beginning

Automated programming won’t eliminate the need for skilled coders. But as automation technology continues to mature, it will free up more time for companies to concentrate their coders’ attention on app innovation and problem-solving instead of foundation building and upkeep.

We’re still in the early stages of putting automation to work in the world of app development, but as it evolves, so will the enterprise app market, leading to virtually infinite possibilities for exciting new app functionalities and features. And these advancements will not only lead to faster development of better apps, but they will also lead to greater growth potential for forward-thinking businesses that take advantage of automated programming tools. Let’s free automation from the data centre!

Aidan Cunniffe, co-founder and CEO of Dropsource

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Alexander Supertramp