Every business manager today has a mind brimming with ways to improve their business best served by developing self-authored custom apps. What’s the best way to produce professional, safe and scalable solutions that integrate with your existing back-office?
It begins with an in-the-shower moment…
It’s quite remarkable how many fantastic business ideas spring out of moments when leaders and entrepreneurs have time to let their minds wander. Be it in the shower, at the gym, or during the morning walk, inspiration can strike and you find yourself planning out your next great business project.
Every good idea deserves a great app
Whether it’s conjuring up a new enterprise, improving a process that saves money, building a new product, or finding ways to deliver giving value to customers, good ideas these days rely on software technology to make them real.
While off-the -shelf apps are perfect for automating those typical processes that every business needs to deal with—accounting, financial management, Human Resources and payroll, staffing, web conferencing etc.—the things that make your business different will need new apps to be authored.
More ways to build custom apps
Think back to Y2K, and if you wanted an app, for most organizations, the only way to achieve it was to create an internal coding team, or outsource it to a third-party developer. Both of these resourcing approaches has its issues.
Building an in-house expert team is expensive, time-consuming, and takes time—not to mention the fact that there’s a global shortfall in IT skills. Even when you have the right people, and have invested in the right coding platforms, there’s no guarantee that what gets produced will be what you need. The casebook of failed application development (‘appdev’) projects is littered with examples of companies that have tried and failed to create apps themselves on-time and on-budget with internal teams.
Hiring an external dev team always risks intellectual property. Managing internal teams can be a challenge for managers, and results are always driven by the economics of the project. As soon as the money runs out, the development stops—and this can lead to poor quality results, where all the finishing touches are missing. For me, perhaps the biggest issue however is what happens post delivery. Applications always need adaptation and enhancement over time. With external teams, there’s no guarantee the people that worked on the project will be around when you need them to enhance and improve the apps they develop.
Enterprise app platforms—The new ‘third-way’
Thankfully, there is a new THIRD WAY to get your app produced and published that brings with it reduced problems post-project, because you will always be able to update the app whenever requirements or markets change. And that new way is an Enterprise App Platform.
An enterprise app platform is a cloud platform that equips businesses to design, deploy and run their own apps.
Usually these days, the design aspect of creating apps is democratised by using building-block styled No-Code interfaces , so that business people can get hands-on in specifying and building apps themselves. The design tools are designed for use in workshops in near-real-time, so expect to be able to deliver an app in days and weeks, not months and years.
Deeper, more technical aspects of managing an enterprise app platform are served up with dashboards and tooling designed for IT architects and people that went to college to study computing as a discipline.
Enterprise app platforms are a game-changer for transforming the creative opportunities of business leaders and managers. They equip businesses to go digital and adapt apps to respond to change as often as necessary, without any great cost (or IT) burden.
No surprise then that the market for No-Code and Low-Code Enterprise App Platforms is going crazy at the moment. Gartner is suggesting the global Low-Code/No-Code Development Platform Market will tip $187 billion to 2030.
Final thoughts—Beware the IT project killers
There are two lurking IT project killers that destroy the hopes and ambitions of sponsors more than anything a development team will or won’t do. They are the two evils of data quality and data integration.
Like lurking evil titans, these two problem areas sometimes seem designed to derail the ambitions of humans. I can’t think of an application of any description that doesn’t depend on any other system for ANY of its data.
Every app in existence these days requires the creation of user identities and logins, of company records, connections to order processing or accounting systems. Before you know it, your little app concept must connect to one or many existing or new IT systems.
This is when the world goes dark. Suddenly, appdev teams find they don’t know how to connect to systems, or at least they don’t know how to connect without risking performance or security impacts on the existing systems.
This is the ‘integration’ issue
How do you connect to one or many systems and harvest elements of data you need for your new app?
Then, once the data connections have been made, appdev teams ingest the data only to find the quality of data is dreadfully poor.
This is the ‘data quality’ issue
Poor quality data can make a good app look bad. It can also make an app unusable, or of little value.
De-risking data quality and integration issues
This is why it’s so important to make sure your Enterprise App Platform comes with the right blend of capabilities, not just to design, deploy and manage apps across your business, but also to help in the resolution of data integration and quality challenges.
These are the FOUR major capabilities to look out for:
1. Extract, Transform and Load Robots – This feature allows you to create ways to pump data from different systems (that may be located at different physical locations, or locked behind firewalls) to serve up data from existing systems, to then extract, transform and load it into your new app. Often, this sort of tooling will use if/then logic rules to validate, adapt and enrich data as it is uploaded.
2. Ready-to-Use Data Connectors – This is tooling that connects your app (and the server it sits on) to third-party systems that have data of differing types stored in differing ways.
3. Data Mashup Support – This is about blending ‘bits of data’ from one data source, with ‘other bits of data’ from another to populate tables. One key technical aspect of this feature is that it needs to be multi-threading. This describes an ability to keep the data connections in use ‘open’ as needed.
4. Plug-In Support – It’s handy to be able to use third-party app components and data sources as part of new application developments. When using third-party components, app designers will want to be able to act on the data in the native design environment and not have to ‘code’ changes in database systems prior to import. This is where plug-in tools like HYPER-DRIVE from ENCANVAS come in—to de-skill and simplify the task of harnessing IT existing app components.
Unsurprisingly, as a mature enterprise platform adopted by large enterprises around the world to create secure and scalable enterprise apps, ENCANVAS provides all these capabilities as part of its standard solution packages.
To experience ENCANVAS for yourself, book a test drive.