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Architecting an Agile Approach to App Development

COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of digital transformation to warp speed. With offices, stores, and in-person interactions shut down overnight, IT teams scrambled to create new applications as organizations pivoted to digital channels to serve their customers and employees.

The demand for agile app development will not end with the pandemic. KPMG reports that countries that have begun returning to “normal” have seen a 55% increase in consumers’ intentions to continue using online channels. Gartner predicts that by 2023, over 60% of all customer service engagements will occur via digital and online self-service channels, up from 23% in 2019. How can enterprise architects prepare to meet the challenges of this new world?

The Need for Speed

Never has the need to develop transformative technology been more urgent. Yet, in a recent OutSystems survey, most organizations reported needing 3 to 6 months to launch a web or mobile application. Scalability, security, and integration with legacy systems remain stumbling blocks to rapid application development.

With myriad apps being developed for myriad channels, security is more critical than ever. Unfortunately, the security testing required to scale enterprise-wide or globally can cause bottlenecks. Integrating legacy systems and existing data sources further complicate app development. Traditional app development, with different development teams working side by side on different technologies to create apps for various channels and touchpoints, slows development. Teams must painstakingly re-create the same functionality for each channel or application. As a portfolio of apps grows and changes, complexity increases, and each new release cycle extends and often leads to organizations grinding to a halt.

Organizations also have to perform and automate testing and architectural reviews close to the development, as errors discovered late in the development phase may require re-architecting, sending developers back to the starting line.

A talent shortage puts pressure on organizations, as those that are unable to compete for developers with specific skill sets struggle to scale their application development. Many buy off-the-shelf solutions as a way around the problem, only to find that these platforms require customization, adding to the time and cost of their initiatives and reducing the ability to adapt quickly in the future.

The New Normal Calls for New Methods of Application Development

Achieving true agility requires a fundamental rethinking of application development, starting with the platform you choose. All app development solutions are not created equal. A modern application development platform with scalability and security embedded into its architecture gives you the agility you need to accelerate and scale app development.

Look for solutions that automate whenever possible to speed app creation and deployment and monitor the adoption. Platforms that automate code generation, security testing, and static code analysis can help ensure compliance even in highly regulated industries. Automatic code generation that follows best practices and performs tech checks as developers work provides real-time feedback and enables smooth deployments.

Code reusability eliminates the need to repeat coding processes across multiple apps and channels. Developers can build an app once and reuse elements such as UX/UI components, business logic, and data across all interactions. Constant monitoring of the portfolio of applications, providing alerts, and remediation guides will ensure all the applications continue to be created in line with market best practices for security, scalability, and supportability.

To overcome integration hurdles, look for an app development platform that integrates easily with core systems, back-office databases, and applications such as CMS, CRM and ERP, external APIs, and identity management systems. This helps your team orchestrate an enhanced customer journey without creating new data domains and integrating with data that has become siloed.

By automating most of the development life cycle, enterprise architects can leverage their existing IT teams instead of outsourcing or hiring for specialized skills. Harness the full potential of developers with deep business knowledge by giving them the tools they need to easily update their skills without learning a new programming language. Resources previously used to maintain legacy systems can shift to addressing new customer needs.

For years, enterprise architects have defaulted to out-of-the-box solutions as a way to get new apps to market quickly. But why pay a vendor for an off-the-shelf solution and then spend time and money customizing it? With an enterprise-grade, high-speed app development platform, you can build an application with exactly the functionality you want, rather than buying a bloated package with features you don’t need. Plus, you have the added benefit of being in control of the roadmap and not at the mercy of the vendor.

Future-Proof Application Development

The global pandemic will end someday, but the pressure on enterprise architects to rapidly deliver new business functionality will not. Time-consuming, costly traditional application development methods keep you from achieving the agility you need to add value at speed.
There’s no shortage of app dev platforms your team can use to build the next bright, shiny object. But some platforms throw barriers in your way, while others place no limits on what you can do. A modern, enterprise-grade application development platform with a modular architecture and reusability across applications and touchpoints empowers your team to rapidly assemble new capabilities, scale them through digital channels, and quickly adapt them to whatever the future may bring.

The OutSystems app development platform offers the integrated, cohesive development approach and tools IT teams need to build even complex applications in weeks instead of months or years. To learn more, download Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant for Multiexperience Development Platforms, where we were honored to be recognized as a leader in the field. Want to experience the power of the platform for yourself? Sign up for free.

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