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Analysis / Mobile

The Era Of Paper And Spreadsheets Is Over: Custom Apps Are Agents Of Digital Transformation

Custom Apps

Whole new realms of possibility are opening to organisations that embrace digital transformation. There’s never been a more opportune time to reconsider business processes and find or create new methods that bring increased productivity, reduce costs and drive business outcomes. Digitisation is shifting business culture and business models.

Digital transformation requires a significant mindset shift. One aspect of this shift involves letting citizen developers—those with no formal development experience—find and create digital solutions to current business processes that are causing problems. These processes were traditionally the responsibility of IT departments, but they are moving to the line of business, where those who best understand the problem are. And why do they know the problem best? Because they are the ones dealing with it on a daily basis.

Change Your Mind, Change Your Business

Changing the mindset of an organisation is a huge undertaking with wide-reaching consequences. If done correctly, the disruption yields many benefits. Organisations that successfully digitise will be driven by software-based, highly customised yet flexible business processes. It is all made possible by creating a decentralised workflow.

An organisation can stagnate when its processes and workflows are held up as sacred cows that must not be touched. These processes are, to a large extent, what define organisational goals and how they’re executed. It can be fearful to think about trying something new, but digitisation requires it. Competition has been accelerated by digital disruption, demanding a quicker response.

The failure to automate processes and workflows, then, hamstrings organisations. The impulse to specialise, centralise and standardise continues to influence decision-making, even as the digital tsunami crests. Business processes have traditionally been highly manual and heavily siloed. Instead of putting brainpower and resources toward innovation and execution, companies that don’t automate remain bogged down in an increasingly outdated world of paper, spreadsheets and legacy technology.

The Citizen Developer Emerges

A new business model is emerging, in which companies are switching from centralised development that caters to distributed teams’ needs to a decentralised app creation model. This empowers the workforce with the tools to create, modify and manage processes as near as possible to where business issues occur. This agility is providing organisations an easier, faster way to advance their goals.

A report found that companies are increasingly turning to custom app development to create greater business agility, work throughput and innovation. And citizen developers are leading the way. Nearly 60 percent of all custom apps are being created outside the IT department.

Out of that group, employees with either limited or no technical development skills are responsible for building the apps. In small companies, 47 percent of business owners are leading app development strategy. 82 percent of all businesses report that citizen developers are going to become more important over the next two years.

When people feel like they are heard, valued and given the tools to succeed, employee engagement increases. Citizen developers are spurred on by a greater sense of autonomy and a greater likelihood of influencing business process design and impact. Recognition of such contributions then becomes part of a new company culture.

Business agility increases as well. As business stakeholders gain greater responsiveness to changing market conditions through more direct and immediate changes in process design and resource allocation, it becomes easier to achieve business outcomes.

The era of paper and spreadsheets has passed. Organisations that cling to them will watch competitors sail past. The clearly delineated division that once existed between business and IT is dissolving in favour of a decentralised model that gives non-IT staffers the chance to create solutions to business problems. This is the power of today’s low-code and no-code custom app platforms.

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Ann Monroe is vice president of worldwide marketing and customer success for FileMaker. She is responsible for marketing the company’s software for creating custom apps for iPad, iPhone, Windows, Mac and the web. She holds an MBA degree from Stanford Graduate School of Business and a BSE in Mechanical Engineering from Loyola Marymount University.