How modern app development platforms support digital transformation

How modern app development platforms support digital transformation

Digital transformation has been top of mind for organisations since the start of the pandemic – but are they aware of the role that app development platforms play in meeting their transformation goals?

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As organisations actively pursue their digital transformation efforts, the list of objectives that they hope to meet expands as they look to adopt new technologies, support their hybrid workforce across verticals, and still retain the ability to innovate and grow.  

iTNews Asia speaks to Mark Weaser, Vice President, APAC of OutSystems to explore the role of modern app development platforms in an organisation’s digital transformation plans and how these app deployments will prove advantageous in the long run.

iTNews Asia: How has the landscape for modern app development platforms changed compared to before the pandemic to now?

Recent global events have highlighted the ongoing and growing need for enterprises to build applications quickly. The pandemic underscored this need, but ever-increasing developer workloads and rapidly changing business needs are driving the demand for a new approach to application development in the enterprise.

We see more and more businesses adopting rapid application development solutions, like low-code and other modern application development platforms to speed up and simplify their digital transformation journeys.

In addition to the pressures brought on by the pandemic, growing demands from customers for tailored products and services has forced organisations to rapidly extend, transform and adapt their existing systems to be faster and more reliable. Investing in IT and adopting new, agile technologies is critical as businesses are forced to transform at a faster pace.

Today’s business environment has made it critical for companies to build applications in ways that support continuous change – which means building for speed, quality and scale. All three are critical for pulling companies out of their technical debt.

Through the implementation of a  development process that meets short-term deadlines and long-term goals, it is possible to shrink technical debt by carefully aligning modern application development platforms, organisational structures and team priorities, allowing any business to steadily pay off debt without compromising the timelines of their current projects.

2020 has indeed brought a shift in the way enterprises and tech leaders are reviewing their state of digital transformation. It is clear that in three to five years, every enterprise will need to be a digital innovation factory in order to be able to compete.

iTNews Asia: What do you think of the digital transformation efforts of organisations when the pandemic first hit and the current state of preparing for the new endemic COVID-19 world? Where does the role of a modern app development platform come into play in supporting these efforts?

For years, digital transformation has remained as one of the key priorities of businesses. Since the emergence of the pandemic, businesses across the country have worked towards adopting technology and harnessing its power to overcome key challenges and unlock new growth opportunities.

The mandatory lockdown restrictions imposed across Asia forced businesses to be heavily reliant on digital technology – from collaboration platforms to cloud-based services and cybersecurity solutions. It became the lifeline of all businesses irrespective of their size or industry sector.

When the pandemic first hit, we saw organisations across Asia scrambling to get their IT systems set up in order to ensure business continuity. This was especially prominent in the technology space, where developers proved unlikely heroes in stepping up to create innovative solutions and navigate the digital world alongside business leaders. Businesses that successfully drive technology innovation at the core of their strategies are the ones that will maximise opportunities from the shifts occurring in our current business landscape.

We are definitely seeing more APAC organisations turning to modern app development platforms to keep up with their digital transformation goals. On top of that, we are also seeing more emerging use cases across various verticals in APAC – all of which are looking to transform and digitise their operations and processes to become agile. This includes business, education, healthcare, banking and finance, retail, and government.

Furthrmore, these platforms provide IT leaders with the potential to bridge silos, streamline processes and enable teams to collaborate and focus on core innovation. In supporting better collaboration between business analysts and the rest of the development team, the platforms provide a visual model-driven development and delivery platform that allows developers to create enterprise-grade web, mobile, and cloud applications.

This holistic approach ensures that each participant in a multidisciplinary team optimises their contribution to the process effectively.

iTNews Asia: What are some of the new business needs in the new environment post-pandemic?

It is clear that in the post-pandemic future, the way we work has evolved to be a hybrid, digital-first and cloud-first approach. While COVID-19 has caused many disruptions, it also presented opportunities for digital innovation and differentiation initiatives. As a result, demand for applications is increasing.

Modern application development enables organisations to meet this demand. By using model-driven development and AI-powered tools that improve the entire application lifecycle, and a cloud-native platform – modern  application development allow developers to quickly and easily build, deploy, and manage the software.

With this technology, organisations can design, test and implement applications inherently faster than traditional development processes. Just as DevOps moved the needle by focusing on development processes rather than IT and networking teams, new technology for high velocity development allows an organisation to design and create applications much more quickly and efficiently. Modern development technologies can also aid in the process of creating bridges between legacy and modern applications, or in some instances, replacing legacy systems entirely.

Visually-driven development is definitely the future of coding. But it is critical for both business experts and IT professionals to collaborate to ensure that applications meet business needs and adhere to all of the governance requirements that assure high-security, scalability and reliability in order to unlock strategic value.

 

With the push to digital transformation in recent years and directly from COVID, every company is now essentially a tech company — requiring more developers by the day, from locations all over the world, making no- and low-code platforms attractive solutions for organisations who want to remain competitive and withstand inevitable change.

-Mark Weaser, Vice President, APAC, OutSystems

iTNews Asia: Do companies usually prefer to orchestrate their app deployments internally, or would they outsource? What are the different benefits or challenges for handling app deployments internally?

Businesses in Singapore grapple with integrating new technologies with existing legacy systems and many among them rely on outdated technology infrastructure for their needs. Compatibility issues inevitably crop up when new insights delivered by newer platforms, such as low-code application development platforms, have to be integrated with legacy software.

Some of the misconceptions around modern applications are that such platforms impact flexibility but are not scalable. Contrary to this misconception, modern application platforms go far beyond low-code:

  • they help to solve serious business problems, while optimising security, compliance, and scale,
  • remove issues like legacy code and integrations,
  • and they help enhance the flexibility of the applications.

The platforms also allows applications to be developed and updated easily – giving easy access to these applications and boast run-time scalability. 

Most companies would usually choose to outsource as building an app is thought to be difficult and would require someone with strong coding knowledge and background. However, by leveraging modern app development platforms, developers are able to be more productive and work closely with the business to meet its changing needs and challenges.

According to our 2020 IDC study, organisations all over the world are increasingly relying on application development tools. 47% of APAC enterprises leaders rely on various model-driven development tools, while 29% of them plan to adopt low-code tools. These platforms give organisations a way to design and develop software applications quickly with minimal hand-coding.

Thanks to the ease of customisation, developers would only have to step in to further tweak or optimise the app if required. These tools do not reduce the value of developers – rather, it lets them produce more value at a quicker pace while harnessing their know-how to create and maintain high-quality web and mobile applications. It also helps to automatically generate code which adheres to current architecture and standards, so the developed work product has fewer errors that need correction.

Furthermore, modern application development platforms help mitigate the skills gap by lowering the entry barrier by incorporating reusable components and eliminating the need for a knowledge of hand-coding. This enables people from diverse backgrounds to become developers.

With the push to digital transformation in recent years and directly from COVID, every company is now essentially a tech company — requiring more developers by the day, from locations all over the world, making no- and low-code platforms attractive solutions for organisations who want to remain competitive and withstand inevitable change.

Regardless, firms in Singapore face similar challenges in software application development as their regional peers.

The top three challenges include:

  1. integrating different systems, technologies and environments,
  2. talent scarcity,
  3. and a lack of involvement by business users.

Local developers also want to spend less time tracking bugs, debugging them, and hard coding – with developers in Singapore sharing that they wish to prioritise more value-added tasks like security analysis, vulnerability testing, gauging software requirements, and designing software.

iTNews Asia: How can they ensure a ROI on their app development?

When selecting a modern app development platform, the most valuable tools are the ones that solve the broadest set of problems. Rather than focusing solely on development or release management, the best approach is to improve every step across the application lifecycle - from design, development, deployment, monitoring, and management – through continuous updating of applications.

A platform approach is the only way to improve the entire process so developers realise a step-function improvement when it comes to building applications, not just incremental improvements to specific function areas. Organisations should look for the tools and platforms that allow for code reusability, removing repetitive tasks from the development process and optimising for future changes.

Modern, AI-supported application platforms provide IT leaders with the potential to bridge silos, streamline processes and enable teams to collaborate and focus on core innovation. These platforms help IT leaders to bridge the digital gap, update business processes, and most importantly, focus on constant innovation by empowering developers and IT with better, smarter tools. Companies can  build and deploy applications within weeks instead of months and now have the agility to ensure their applications keep pace with every change in the business.

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© iTnews Asia
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