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Empower Citizen Developers in your Enterprise

In today’s digital world, Apps have become an essential part of all enterprise activities.  App demands are driven by both external customers, who demands it to be interactive and  internal customers(employees), who want tons of custom business apps to be built.  Internal app demands are primarily generated by non-technical-business teams.  The apps are usually non-mission-critical but business-critical apps.  The people who demand these apps are business users who usually have limited -technical knowledge.  A small portion of these app demands are getting satiated by out of the box SaaS services but they still have a big chunk of custom demands that has to be built..  There is an inherent dependency created on the technical/IT teams to take care of these app needs.  But in organizations, IT/technical teams have focus mostly on the core/mission critical apps.  This creates a catch-22 situation for these business app developers, where they themselves cannot create app and the IT team is a bottleneck.  In essence app development is in the control of a select few technical developers and the IT team.  In other words, there is no “Democratic way to include all stakeholders into the app development process”.  

Unleashing the new generation of “Citizen Developers”

Back in 2011, Gartner predicted that at least 25% of all business applications will be built by citizen developers.  The emergence of the non-technical business developers,also called as citizen developers, is real now.  Gartner defines a citizen developer as “A user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and run-time environments sanctioned by corporate IT.”.  

Low Code Platforms and Citizen Developers

One of the primary reasons for the coming-of-age of the citizen developers include the emergence of modern low-code platforms.  Low Code platforms like Wavemaker bring in a new zeal for the citizen developers where they can use visual app building approaches, 1-click deployments and DIY app maintenance to quickly create an app from an idea.  

However, the emergence of both the citizen developers and low-code platforms have not played out that much with a lot of the enterprise technology leadership.  There are still challenges within enterprises to establish a centralized innovation platform for citizen developers to quickly create an app from an idea.  There are no established methodologies that can be adopted by the enterprise IT to make the combo of citizen-developers and low-code-platforms work effectively.  Agile processes are only partially successful with low code platforms.  Partial involvement of technical teams are still a reality.  Even a small involvement of technical teams bring in big hurdles to unleash the true power of the citizen developer movement.  

Is BiModal-IT a solution?

Is Gartner’s BiModal-IT, a solution for ushering in the Citizen Developer movement? The answer would be  Yes and No.  BiModal-IT is a high level methodology that is to employed by enterprises and propagates the creation and operation of 2 distinct teams to tackle the issues of renovate and innovate.  Citizen developers can be employed in both the teams, more so in Innovate teams.  

BiModal-IT doesn’t specifically get into the intricacies on how exactly the citizen developers can be empowered.  Gartner, though gets into those details in another publication specifically targeting at the citizen developers.  There it talks about how Citizen developers can contribute to enterprise innovation(mode 2 of BiModal-IT), how they need separate special infrastructure and tools (like low-code platforms) to get empowered.

citizen enterprisesBimodal IT and Pace Layering (Courtesy: Gartner)

WaveMaker 2-pass development methodology

2-pass development is a new methodology proposed by WaveMaker, specifically targeted at using a low-code platform in the most optimized manner to completely leverage the omnipresent citizen developers in an enterprise to usher an era of enterprise innovation.  

2-pass development methodology, as it says, includes two development passes:

  • A Business Pass, driven by a team comprising of non-technical business developers who build their apps using a low code platform like WaveMaker.  They build their apps visually by drag and dropping out of the box UI components.  When there is a custom requirement for an app, they pass on the development for a “Technical Pass”
  • A Technical Pass, driven by a team comprising of technical experts and developers write the code and wrap them as visual components, that can be used by the Business Pass team to build apps.  

*Read more about 2-pass development approach and its benefits in my blog here.

2-pass development methodology bridges the missing links, brings in the much needed standardization and process optimization into the app development using low code platforms with citizen developers.

This setup can enable the enterprise citizen developers in a big way and usher in innovation within enterprise.  “Democratization of app development” becomes a reality. WaveMaker platform is  helping customers serve theirs. It is truly commendable how low code platforms like WaveMaker is helping add tremendous amounts of value to many enterprises by giving them the freedom to build codeless, intuitive technology at the click of the mouse.

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Enterprise Application Development

2-Pass Development using Low-code Platforms

All of us live in a world which is definitively moving towards being completely digital. Organizations, big and small alike, are finding it difficult to adopt their IT needs and practices to align to the modern world.  There have been half-hearted attempts to move towards automation.  App development is one such area of concern for the IT managers.  App development is still largely controlled and managed by large engineering/technology teams relying on traditional ways of doing development, which is focused on technology rather than business imperatives. Also, the business stakeholders like product managers and business analysts are part of the development process only during logical units and the technical modules are developed in silos and then a big-bang integration cycle happens, gobbling up enormous amounts of time and energy.  Process improvements like Agile and Scrum have  improved business stakeholder involvement during the development cycle, but with limited success.  The real problem will be solved only when a new revolutionary way of application development evolves, where the business stakeholders drive the show with technology stakeholders playing second fiddle.  But it has to be supported by an equally effective development process and an able application development platform.

Low Code Platforms

Low-code development has been proposed as an alternative to traditional IT app development process.  It has been adopted by a handful of organizations across the globe and has, to a small extent, alleviated the challenges mentioned in the last section.  But it is yet to scale up to be universally appealing to everyone in an enterprise. For instance, there is still a big dependency on the technology teams to get things done due to which business teams still use out-of-the-box SaaS services, which offer limited flexibility to get things done thereby, creating more silos inside the organization.

2-pass development

WaveMaker, Inc. proposes 2-pass development as a new app development methodology that can be used with a low code platform to do away with all the application development challenges that were mentioned earlier and to optimize the entire app building experience.

2-pass development approach, as it says, has 2 passes in app development- a business pass and a technical pass.

Business Pass

Any time an app is to be developed, the requirements are passed on to the Business pass team comprising of business stakeholders like product managers and business analysts and we group them as “RAD Developers”.  They gather the app requirements and start to build the app using a low-code platform like WaveMaker.  The app building is usually creation of the user interface with live/test data, using visual app building experience provided by the platform.  Visual app building involves simple drag and drop for UI building, connections to various systems like DB, LDAP and ERP and 1-click deployment into various environments like QA, staging and  production among a host of other rapid development features.

However, there will invariably be some app requirements that are not available out of the box and need to be customized for the specific app.  These are the requirements that will be passed on to the technical pass team to be taken care of.  For instance, a particular customized UI widget that is not available out of the box, would be requested to be built by the technical pass team.

Technical Pass

Technical team accomplishes two purposes.  First, they create all the generic visual reusable components that are needed for the app building by the Business Pass team.  Secondly, they also create the specific app requirements that comes from the Business Pass team and they quickly get back to them.

Members of the technical pass team are professional developers who specialize in front-end, back-end and integration(API) development.

Benefits of 2-pass development

2-pass development and Bimodal IT

The best part of the 2-pass development philosophy is that it fits nicely into the popular IT philosophies.  One of the most popular one is the Bimodal IT.  Check out the synergistic relationship between 2-pass development and Bimodal IT.
wavemaker two-pass

Business-focussed app development

One of the biggest benefits of 2-pass development is the business-focussed app development.  Since the Business-Pass team, comprising of business stakeholders,  is a part of the app development team, they are completely plugged in during the app development process.  This is completely different from the traditional development process, where business stakeholders are plugged in during the initial requirements gathering phase and then only in logical intervals of task completion.  In fact low-code platforms like WaveMaker allow you 1-click preview, which allows you to view the project as a customer would see and offers you the exact stage at which the project is in.

Do away with a force-fitted integration cycle

Even when the Business Pass team reaches out to the technical pass team, it’s driven by business imperatives rather than a technical overhang.  This change is important since it does away with an entirely important part of the traditional app delivery process – namely Integration cycle and testing.  In traditional process, Integration testing in some cases weeks to months together, since the technical modules got started to be done in silos and then they were integrated.

But in 2-pass development, we start with a single project, and reach out to the pass-2 team only when there is a need for customization.  Even the pass-1 team is expected to work directly within the aegis of the low-code platform and hence the integration testing cycle is completely eliminated.

2-pass development and Agile process

The best part of 2-pass development philosophy is that it’s not a brand new philosophy and fits nicely into the existing app delivery methodologies like Agile.  It can use the existing resources and in fact optimize their usage.  For instance, each of the passes can be independently handled as an agile process.  And the collaboration pass, where the business and technical passes need to collaborate, can also be done in an agile process.  A good low-code or No code platform will make this process easier, because both the passes, though they do different kind of work, are done inside the same platform.  So anything that is being developed by technical pass is visible to the business pass during the development.  In a way, the business team is a client of technical pass team.  In this way, even during collaboration, the project is driven by business imperatives rather than technology dependencies.

WaveMaker Low-Code platform for Rapid Application Delivery

Organizations across the globe rely on WaveMaker to leverage 2-Pass Development for their application delivery needs. Our Rapid Application Development Platform is the most open, extensible and flexible low-code platform that complements your existing enterprise application delivery. You can get started with a free, 30-day on-premise or online trial.

Categories
Enterprise Application Development

Laying the foundational architecture for enterprise RAD

Modern businesses demand greater agility, speed and continuous innovation when it comes to applications. Apps are the lifeline for enterprise innovation. Additionally, end users have raised expectations around usability, availability and usage of apps. Enterprise developers have to rethink on the type of architecture and approach to use while developing web and mobile apps.

Within the industry, analysts use various terms such as Rapid Application Development Platforms, Low-code Development Platforms etc. to categorize platforms that enable quick and efficient development and delivery of apps.  As we explore such platforms, one subtle yet critical aspect that fosters a highly productive development environment, is the app architecture enabled by the platform.

WaveMaker RAD Platform is built on a set of core principles that enables a modern app architecture. In this set of blog posts, we will talk about the various aspects of a modern app architecture enabled by WaveMaker. This is the first post of the series, where we explore the list, and then in subsequent posts, we dive deep into each one of them. Please note that the word app refers to both web as well as mobile applications across all the blog posts in this series.

There are various components of a full-stack application that impact the working and productivity of the application. The choices that are made for each component determine the flexibility and suitability of the overall application for meeting modern business needs.

Fostering modern app architecture by choices made for the following,

  • Client Side Framework
  • UI Widget Architecture
  • Data Model Layer
  • Responsive Design
  • REST enablement
  • App Security
  • App Composability
  • App Scalability
  • Real-time Support
  • Cross-Platform Support
  • Mobile Native Support
  • Continuous Delivery
  • Deployment Targets

In the upcoming posts, we will talk about the choices made by WaveMaker for each of the above. We will also talk about how WaveMaker unifies all the above into a unified platform, thereby, providing maximum productivity for Mobile & Web app development.

So stay tuned, and lets deep dive and create some waves!!

Categories
Insights

6 trends that are upending enterprise application delivery

Enterprise application delivery is evolving day by day and enterprises have discovered that traditional development methods do not address the needs of modern business. Many leaders continue to be in denial about the power of digital trends that are radically transforming the business landscape. But in the world of adapt or perish, enterprises have to make changes and take steps towards transforming their architecture to create provisions for future trends in application delivery.

The new normal

Let’s take a look at six trends that have urged enterprises to take action. Each of these trends is not an independent phenomenon but a group of closely related phenomena that not only influence, but also act as a catalyst for the others.

  1. Mobility: In the last few years, not only have the number of mobile devices surpassed PCs, but users now turn to their mobile devices first. Ever since mobile apps entered the enterprise scene, they have ushered in new forms of collaboration, communication, and business efficiencies. The number of devices managed in the enterprise increased 72% from 2014 to 2015 and now, 3+ devices are used daily by an employee for work activities. With the diversity of screens and form factors exploding, enterprise mobility has become the key strategy for every business to empower and manage employee mobility in order to meet security, agility and productivity demands.
  1. Consumerization: The distinction between expectations for consumer and enterprise applications has rapidly narrowed due to the impact of consumer-originated technologies on enterprises. 90% of enterprises say that the use of consumer or individual services used for work is pervasive today including Dropbox, Google, Skype, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networking sites. 49% of these sites are used with IT approval, and 41% are not. To achieve the greatest user adoption and long-term success, there is a conscious effort to move away from a purely utilitarian approach to one that strives to deliver an experience for that meets the same standards evident in consumer products.
  1. Containerization: Perhaps the biggest story in the development and DevOps circles over the past couple of years has been the explosion of containers, with Docker driving the path toward developer and enterprise adoption. Docker’s express growth is already revolutionizing continuous delivery. The influence of containers continues to grow and it is beginning to move beyond mere optimization to transformation on the way IT builds and delivers applications. Several enterprises are looking at containers as an alternative to virtualization and cloud computing, at least for the need of long tail business applications.
  1. API Growth: With the dawn of cloud computing and proliferation of apps, companies are exchanging data and services at an ever growing rate. APIs can increase agility by de-coupling and exposing business processes. The past few years, however, have seen such explosive growth that the API space is evolving more rapidly than ever before. In 2015, as many as 40 APIs were being added per week to the Programmable Web directory, and the total number of APIs stood at around 15,000. The key thing to consider here is that these numbers are based on publicly available APIs and do not reflect any private or internal API growth at all, of which some estimate may even outnumber the public total. The future RESTful APIs will not only drive the exchange of data but also influence enterprise architecture.
  1. Data Deluge: The amount of data being generated globally is growing at a rate of 40% per year. Add to that the complexity of an ever-connect world of Internet of Things. Forecasts indicate that there will be 20.8 billion connected things (IoT) by 2020. As enterprises capture more data from more sources, they are bound to experience greater growth rates for both structured and unstructured data. Since data forms the crux of business applications, enterprises will have to prepare to manage data integration from disparate internal and external systems.
  1. Microservices: Microservices are small, single-purpose applications that collaborate using APIs to deliver services. Even though microservices have been used for a while, the increasing popularity of cloud computing, containerization, and APIs has made microservices more reliable. In many organizations developers are already employing microservices architecture whether management knows it or not. Early signs indicate this approach to code management and deployment is helping companies become more responsive to shifting customer demands. Microservices is poised to take scalability and continuous delivery to the next level in the years to come

It is time to face this new dynamic and begin to plan for your organization’s digital transformation. You need a fresh perspective to give you and your team a powerful voice in setting business direction. In the age of the customer, tech
professionals must work with business executives to use technology to drive growth and delight customers. 

I would be glad to understand how your organization is planning to deal with these trends. Also, please add to these trends if you feel that I have missed out on anything.

Organizations across the globe rely on WaveMaker to navigate the new normal using. Our Rapid Application Development Platform is the most open, extensible and flexible low-code platform that complements your existing enterprise application delivery. You can get started with a free, 30-day on-premise or online trial.