In our white paper called, “The Top 10 Reasons to Use a Low-Code Platform For Your Next Enterprise App”, we look at a landscape that’s changed over the last several years. We take a deep dive into what’s changed, and why organizations must reconsider low-code as their enterprise app strategy solution if they're serious about their pace of mobile innovation. In this series, we’ll dissect those reasons a few at a time. If you want to get the full white paper in all its stunning glory, you can download it here.
The Risk & Benefit of Early Adoption
Even though the buzz is huge and discussions have been going on for almost decades now, enterprise digitalization (and especially mobilization) is barely getting started. The success of digitalization efforts will play a big part in determining which enterprises stay ahead of the game, and which ones fall behind. The importance of this cannot be emphasized enough.
Visual low-code app development platforms have reached a level of maturity that makes previous attempts look archaic.
When disruptive technologies appear, it is more often than not a small group of early adopters that lead the charge, while others resist the change. Of course, some companies make the wrong bets or the right bets at the the wrong time, and invest in technologies that ultimately end up hampering their business. But when the right technology is emerging, the first adopters often gain a significant advantage. Sometimes, those early adopters can turn a whole industry upside down.
The speed at which quality mobile apps can be innovated, created and delivered is already a major challenge for enterprises globally as app backlogs continue to mount. In addition, there are numerous potentially game-changing app ideas that sit untapped in the heads of line-of-business owners, salespeople, business analysts and other members of the enterprise workforce.
According to Gartner, this pressure will only increase: by end of 2017, app backlogs will be growing 5x faster than the resources to develop them. Companies need new, disruptive technologies to win in this game.
The Next Generation of Visual App Development Platforms
Visual low-code app development platforms have reached a level of maturity that makes previous attempts look archaic. These new tools are disrupting mobile and web app development processes in a real and positive way. Businesses are able to meet their digitalization and mobilization goals at an unprecedented pace, even uncovering completely new business opportunities.
We’ve talked with IT organizations globally and across multiple industries, and the majority are working to optimize the way they develop mobile apps in an effort to better respond to ever-changing business needs. Time and again these companies tell us their approach to mobile development is expensive and simply doesn't scale. Coding apps from scratch is just too slow, even with the help of proprietary and open source libraries, MBaaS and PaaS providers, and other modern tools. It requires native development talent as well as deep expertise in connecting to existing backend systems.
The reality is that very few applications are anywhere near perfect after the initial development work.
Many of these companies outsource app dev processes only to find the approach expensive, inflexible and prone to failure. Some have chipped away at the “complexity problem” by creating easy-to-consume RESTful API layers, and by leveraging various development frameworks to enforce consistency and best practices. Yet even this group still finds too much time and expense being spent coding and testing apps. Increasingly, companies are finding visual app development platforms to be a excellent additions to their mobile toolkits, helping them optimize processes and make things scale.
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Digitalization is the new frontier for companies to tackle, and mobilization is in the front and center of that movement. Organizations want to find ways to take advantage of the new opportunities made available by mobile technologies, to become more efficient and provide new kinds of services to their customers. At the same time, the current situation is unsustainable, and the only way for organizations to execute and deliver on the digitalization front is to adopt new platforms and tools that speed things up by an order of magnitude.
The Ten Reasons
It’s become clear that visual app builders are a disruptive technology that will transform the way companies digitize and mobilize for competitive advantage. It’s the right time to move. In this paper we will cover ten reasons why every organization should use visual app development tools for their next enterprise app project. We will cover both the speed and resource related benefits that the visual low-code app development tools offer, as well as go through other benefits that attribute to the success of any mobile app project.
AppGyver is the provider of the world’s most sophisticated and extendable visual app development platform, AppGyver Composer, used by over 200,000 developers. We’ve seen thousands of organizations use our software to successfully build world-class enterprise software from the simplest form apps to the most complex transactional workflow applications. Our customers have achieved over 10x development speed increases in their enterprise mobile app projects, when compared to outsourcing projects or building them in-house with technologies such as PhoneGap. We’ve covered this productivity leap in another white paper, which can be downloaded here.
Besides increasing the development speed by an order of magnitude, next generation visual app development platforms provide many other benefits over traditional cross-platform app development. These include increased app quality, better app manageability and improved app security. Their design also helps in ensuring the overall success of mobile app projects. Here are the top 10 reasons why you should use visual low-code development tools for your next enterprise app project.*
One of the biggest benefits of visual development platforms is the speed at which a sophisticated app’s capabilities can be built, tested and rolled into production, end-to-end. Traditionally, enterprise mobile app projects take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to build. With visual tools, the development time can be taken down to days and weeks. The speed gains are achieved through two things: visual tooling and an integrated app platform.
Compose and Extend with Visual Tooling
The core of visual app builders is to compose both the user interface and app logic visually, instead of writing code. This is made possible through comprehensive component libraries for UI, logic, integration and backend logic. Common use cases can be simply drag-and-dropped together on the app canvas. Traditionally, visual tools have been limited to producing relatively basic apps – as only the components made available by the vendor could be used.
The platform aspect of visual app development tools provides other dramatic speed improvements, with features such as easy-to-add custom authentication and identity providers, application-wide permission controls, managed app distribution, push notification services and app analytics. Next generation visual app platforms like AppGyver Composer also solve hard, data-related technical problems such as backend integrations and data transformations, data synchronization and caching, access revoking and secure data transfer.
AppGyver Composer lets users clone components as a starting point to build their own libraries.
Reducing app development times from months to days and weeks fundamentally changes the way an enterprise can evaluate and manage its portfolio of mobile projects. First and foremost, the number of projects that can be considered and rolled out dramatically increases. Notably, we observe mobile savvy business personnel coming up with many mobile app ideas that are small and task-specific, but can have huge impacts on the way day-to-day business is conducted. Historically, these kinds ideas have fallen to the wayside, as they didn’t merit the heavy lifting that goes into a traditional mobile app project. Not only can more ideas be churned out, but the development work can be offloaded to lesser skilled developers and technical analysts.
The second big change in portfolio planning is that the risk and potential failure of mobile projects are reduced, along with the time, money and personnel required to really test out an idea. With visual tools, teams can test multiple app concepts extremely quickly and iterate based on feedback from real users immediately. The apps can then be rapidly developed further – or scrapped fast, if that is the best option.
Agile development through iteration also minimizes the risk of project failure.
Many organizations executing their digitalization efforts see mobile app backlogs growing at an increasing rate. There are many reasons for this. As the mobilization trend is finally taking off in the enterprise setting, organizations simply don’t have enough resources to build quality mobile applications with their available resources. Another trend is that many small app projects just don’t make sense to develop using traditional methods, which causes the majority of backlogs to go unaddressed. This is not a sustainable trend for organizations that want to aggressively take on their potential for mobile innovation. The speed of rapid visual app development platforms can solve the unsustainable backlog jam.
2. Iteration Speed
In the traditional waterfall method of building software, software projects are specified to the finest detail before the massive sprint of development work starts. This has been the safer way for the enterprise buyers to buy software from outsourcing partners. However, in the world of accelerating speed of technology advancements, this methodology falls apart. By the time a software project is delivered, the world around it has already changed.
iteration and agility are often overlooked in enterprise software project plans.
In the specification phase, some organizations utilize prototyping and usability testing, which is great. For the majority of apps, however, this step is left out due to lack of resources. At the end of the development phase – assuming the project is completed successfully – the application goes into field testing. It’s typically at this phase where things start break down. The reality is that very few applications are anywhere near perfect after the initial development work. Real world usage in the field and feedback from employees changes the scope and understanding of how the app should actually function. This is especially true in the world of mobile, where form and function as well as supporting logic around activities all need to be blended to create impactful interactions. Landing on just the right mix often takes many iteration cycles.
When it comes to quick iteration, visual app development tools are by design far superior to traditional development methods. The first minimum viable version of an app can be put together in hours, after which field testing can be initiated via over-the-air distribution methods. The visual tooling makes the incorporation of changes in an iterative manner way easier than with traditional methods of development. When you’re working with code, the developer has to always spend a certain amount of time performing chores, no matter how small the requested change is. The componentization of software in visual tools, and the separation of concerns between user interface, client app logic, integrations and backend logic makes testing and changing software dramatically faster and easier.
Reducing app development times from months to days and weeks fundamentally changes the way an enterprise can evaluate and manage its portfolio of mobile projects
Today, most companies recognize the value being agile and iterating in the creation of great software. They tell us that they employ these practices to some degree or another, where and when it makes sense. All admit, however, they could do much more. When we dig into it, the reality is that iteration and agility are often overlooked in enterprise software project plans. When they are considered, we often find that they are sacrificed in the name of “keeping things on track”. Part of this phenomenon can be attributed to corporate policies and best practices, but largely is traced to the technology and tools the dev team uses.
Iteration actually slows development times because changes traditionally require time-consuming coding and testing to implement. Visual app platforms make it possible to develop, test and deploy changes in hours, making very tight feedback-iteration loops possible. It’s only through rigorous testing and feedback from real users that enable any software to become truly great. Agile development through iteration also minimizes the risk of project failure. Successful, high quality app projects can only be achieved through rigorous iteration, and visual tools take the speed of an optimal iteration process to a whole new level.
3. Reusability of Components
Typically enterprise app development projects require a diverse team of people with different roles: design, client development, backend development, data integration and project management. Modern visual platforms like AppGyver Composer enable a whole new approach to software development, achieved through reusability of code and repositories of company-wide component libraries.
AppGyver Composer makes it possible for any developer in the organization to build new app components rapidly inside the visual tool, and to share them with others, providing reusability of code. The components can cover any part of the application stack: user interface components, client logic components, backend logic components, integrations and custom identity providers. Instead of building every application from scratch, and requiring a whole team of experts and developers to work together synchronously, the work can be divided into smaller pieces and the development work can be done asynchronously.
Instead of building every application from scratch, and requiring a whole team of experts and developers to work together synchronously, the work can be divided into smaller pieces.
A data integration expert can develop the core integration capabilities and then make it possible for the rest of the teams to securely use them in their apps, with the ease of drag-and-drop. The design team can create a comprehensive library of core UI assets: a living style guide of real app components such as buttons, cards and list elements. These components can be used by any developer in the organization to rapidly build high quality applications without design and integration expertise, and potentially without any heavy-duty project management. To keep things secure, access to specific components and data sources can be limited on a per-user or user group basis.
This is one of the most groundbreaking and exciting aspects of visual app development. Extensive reusability of code has always been a target for every software development project. However, the reality of everyday software development – combined with the traditional methods still widely used – has proven it very hard to achieve true reusability of code, requiring a lot of discipline from every stakeholder. Widely-used software development methods have not done a great job in supporting the effort. Of course, package management systems such as npm and Bower have made it possible to share and reuse libraries, but visual tools like AppGyver Composer make smart app extendability and code reuse a first-class citizen.
Building reusable, dynamic components using AppGyver Composer.
Advanced and well-thought component library extension, management, sharing and reusability of code are the key features that make or break any visual app development platform. Without the ability to extend every aspect of an application, and then let other developers reuse those extensions, the visual tool becomes a limiting factor that prevents developers from doing their job. The definition of a platform is a product that enables the producers to distribute their work and for consumers to utilize what the producers have created. Without these features, a visual app development platform is not really a platform. When these features are built-in, the developers become an order of magnitude more productive, iteration and speed of app development get to a whole new level, and the manageability of large amounts of enterprise app projects becomes sustainable.
In our next post, we'll explore a few more reasons low-code development platforms are here to stay. Get notified by signing up below.