How to accelerate digital transformation

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Every company in the fast-expanding digital economy has become essentially a software company. Those with the ability to transform and seize emerging opportunities with greater speed and agility than their rivals hold the key to success.

This decisive shift has pushed demand for application development to an all-time high, as the State of Application Development 2018 study published by OutSystems found. The bad news is that organizations have found it difficult to keep up with this demand.

The OutSystems report also highlighted a greater focus on developing apps that will be used by customers or business partners than on internal business applications. This finding reinforces software’s critical influence on business revenue, reputation, and success.

Speed to market

“To get to market first, you need the courage for rapid experimentation,” said Steve Rotter, CMO at OutSystems. “It is these dynamics that place low-code platforms like OutSystems at the top of the CIO’s agenda in 2018.”

More than speeding up applications development and delivery, the right kind of low-code platform drives four priorities that IT organizations should focus on in digital transformation initiatives. Those priorities are:

  • Enable more innovation: Low-code enables development up to 10 times faster than hand-coding. Visual prototyping enriches design thinking while fast creation of minimal viable product and “test and learn” engagement facilitate close cooperation between target users and developers.
  • Improve agile adoption: Low-code platforms can reenergize agile practices by turning developers—whether they’re focused on front-end, back-end, or mobile—into full-stack developers. There’s just a single low-code IDE and a single skill set to master.
  • Architect flexible integration: The right low-code platform can visually model and rapidly create back-end core and integration services supporting REST and SOAP APIs in a three-layer service architecture. Composable apps, decoupled front-ends, and the abstraction of loosely coupled services offer flexibility that preserves investments in slow-evolving legacy systems.
  • Achieve DevOps success: The right low-code platform aids DevOps practices that deliver software faster, more reliably, and with fewer errors. For example, it supports comprehensive version control; collaborative development for multi-developer teams and multi-team organizations; and proactive management of application performance.

Empowered to transform

“Low-code simply allows us to do more,” summed up Steven Schmidt, enterprise collaboration manager at Logitech, whose mission-critical product launch app built and easily modified with low-code development ran more smoothly for stakeholders involved. That’s really the crux of low-code’s benefits when applied to digital operations; it empowers employees so their working lives are easier.

Reflecting on his experience in delivering projects to thousands of customers over the years, Miguel Baltazar, director of Transformation Services at OutSystems, suggested five top ways to accelerate your company’s digital transformation:

  • Design customer journey maps:These are visual representations of each customer’s relationship with you, as an organization, brand, product, and service. The customers’ journeys are mapped over time and across channels of interaction. Capturing and empathizing with customers’ motivations, wants, and needs enable you to set the right project goals and envision the journey.
  • Create clickable prototypes:These help facilitate the conversations, suggestions, and ideas shared by everyone involved in a digital journey because they provide a tangible experience of how an app will look and behave. These prototypes can be tested, iterated, and validated to assess whether functionality contributes to the project goals and to reduce the risks of not doing the right thing.
  • Build multi-disciplinary teams:Common functions involved in the delivery of software involve six essential teams of expertise: business; demand and governance; development;architecture; user experience; and operations. Here, the smaller each team is, the better the communication, autonomy, and innovation.
  • Organize a hackathon:These intense sessions can last from a few hours to a few days. They act as true innovation labs to accelerate your business and make it more efficient, no matter whether you’re a financial service company, a retail giant, a government institution, or an online fashion company, for example. OutSystems has written a guide on how to organize one.
  • Get your Digital Transformation Playbook: Finally, you can draw inspiration from the OutSystems Digital Transformation Playbook, a step-by-step guide that introduces a new methodology, called the low-code digital factory, and shows you how it can be applied in your digital journey from beginning to end.

What’s in it for you?

Companies that have adopted the right low-code platform commonly share stories of starting small, being amazed by how little time it took to get a working app, and quickly moving on to bigger projects. Keeping it simple and starting small allow stakeholders and decision makers to see how quick and easy it is to complete a project.

This lays the foundation for your organization to get started on bigger projects with the efficiency of a well-oiled machine and watch it go live in a few weeks.

Put simply, “We’re attacking one of the biggest problems facing businesses today – the lack of speed and agility of traditional software development that is hindering digital transformation initiatives around the world,” said Paulo Rosado, CEO of OutSystems.

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