One of the top priorities for IT directors is to enable rapid change within their organizations.
Switching from several dedicated applications to a single no-code/low-code, quick-response platform is proving crucial for forward-thinking companies.
According to Gartner’s 2016 “CIO Agenda” survey of IT directors, over 2500 brands from 93 countries will spend a total of $292 billion on IT. According to the report, the top organizations that participated in the study tripled their digital processes over the last two years. By 2018, the digitization of these processes are predicted to double again. Gartner calls this the building of a digital ecosystem.
In this age of the digital transformation, it is not just important to digitize data and processes, but to do it right. Many companies need to examine their application portfolios and what effect the maintenance thereof will have for their business. They also need to consider whether it is possible, or even necessary, to optimize their existing application architecture.
Will IT step up to the challenge?
IT departments often have to deal with complicated real-life situations. For example, if three people are hired to maintain and develop thirty different business applications, they will divide the tasks to 10 each. This system works as long as none of them take a long vacation. In such a case, the company has a problem, because every application is different, and requires a different skillset to manage. As a result, the remaining employees will not only have to focus on their apps, but also 10 new ones they are potentially not experienced with.
Maintaining such a system may involve thirty contracts with thirty vendors, thirty SLA payments, and thirty different project managers dedicated to developing the application. Furthermore, end users have to deal with thirty different application interfaces.
Eventually, there comes a moment where business needs to find a more elegant, and efficient, solution.
Unification instead of liquidation
The knee-jerk reaction of many companies is to simply get rid of some applications to save on maintenance and development. The problem is that this is not always possible, because if these applications work, they are usually used by employees. There is another way: a homogeneous Rapid Application Development and Business Process Management environment. These systems unite complicated application architectures within a company, and much more.
Above all, a single platform means standardization. A company may use 30 applications simultaneously, but the IT department can maintain them all via a single system. Only one set of skills is needed for IT staff, regardless of what application needs attention. The IT department also gains more flexibility with regards to human resources and onboarding. With a unified platform, it is very easy to introduce a new employee to the application environment.
Second of all, with such a platform a company needs to work with a limited number of vendors. You cannot underscore enough the ease and peace of mind one maintenance agreement, one server, and one hardware platform is needed for your entire environment.
One platform to rule them all
RAD/BPM platforms have matured enough to become a real software development alternative, and not just for secondary applications without critical business significance. Until now, this has been unthinkable. Just 5 years ago, critical solutions were almost always dedicated solutions. Today, essential applications can be built using a unified platform.
Data reusability is also very important. Almost 30 years ago, ERP systems began to appear. Businesses received connected systems instead of separate modules for finances, personnel, sales, and storage, which were previously completely independent and did not “communicate” with each other. With ERP systems, all a user had to do was to register a contractor in one module to be able to use the same data in another. This prevented redundant physical data, as well as redundant business activities related to administration, maintenance, and reuse. The exact same thing is happening now with application platforms. Thanks to RAD/BPM, we no longer have to deal with dozens of independent application islands that need to be integrated through the use of tedious bridge building. Instead, we can now have one system which allows data to be used in different business processes after being entered only once, and it’s becoming easier than ever.
Flexibility above all
The unification of a company’s application environment also entails significant improvements in terms of strategic operations, which is the main goal of implementing a corporate architecture. Because RAD/BPM platforms use low-code/no-code principles, they can offer great flexibility in change management. This allows companies to easily adapt their business applications to evolving business and market needs. This means that when a new business model emerges, a company can deliver a new or updated solution very quickly. Instead of a couple months of work, the timeframe becomes a few weeks, or even days. That’s all it takes to build new applications, or completely change those currently in operation. As a result, companies gain more control and better coordination of their activities, with access to the full range of information needed to make critical business decisions: all in one place, all in one click.
From a business perspective, this is the needed for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The article was published in Computerworld (originally in Polish).