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Build a Strong Business Case for App Modernization – WaveMaker

Choosing the right business cases for your application modernization will raise the likelihood of earning executive support and achieving implementation success.

The organizational benefits of application modernization can hardly be overstated. McKinsey finds that with IT modernization, enterprises increase employee productivity by up to 30% and motivation by up to 40%; they also reduced defects and time-to-market by up to 60%. Forrester finds that IBM clients saw an average savings of more than $500,000 over the first three years of cloud adoption.

Irrespective of whether you’re entirely renewing your legacy application or integrating critical parts of it with a modern app, you can reap significant business benefits from modernization. Yet, often, enterprises fall short of unlocking its complete potential. This is mostly due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • The app you’ve chosen to modernize is less business-critical and more whimsical.
  • You’ve begun your modernization on an application either too big or too small to demonstrate its value.
  • Your modernization project is taking too long before it shows any real result.
  • You don’t have clear metrics for measuring the success of your modernization initiative.
  • You have skeptical executives who have given you half-hearted endorsements.

If you find any of these reasons relatable, you’re in luck. Because, if you have had a failed application modernization project for any of the above reasons, it can easily be fixed with a simple but crucial step: Building a business case.

Whether you’re beginning a pilot project, or you’re modernizing your nth application, a clear, strong, relevant, outcome-driven business case should be the first step in devising your application modernization strategy. A robust business case for application modernization shields you against the risks of failure in several ways.

Focusing on impact

The first step in a good business case would be to identify the right app to modernize, based on criticality, complexity, risks and available resources, which will make your success both meaningful and impactful.

Working in your organizational context

Not all modernization is the same. Choosing a one-size-fits-all approach is a sure shot way to failure. Having a strong business case will clearly define the scope of your modernization project, within the needs and possibilities of your organization.

Making results measurable

With clear roadmap, milestones and metrics, a business case will serve as a report card for progress. And as your compass in your application modernization journey.

Getting the right people on your side

Executive sponsorship for a transformational project like app modernization needs to be a lot more than just allocating budgets and resources. It needs their whole-hearted investment in ushering a cultural change across the IT organization. To earn that, your business case needs to go beyond the facts and calculated predictions. It needs to demonstrate the tangible and intangible value of doing down this path — be it monetary, operational, cultural, or even in terms of comfort and productivity.

In that sense, a ‘business case’ proposal will make or break your application modernization initiative. From our experience working with global enterprises on app modernization projects, here are our recommendations for building a robust business case.

#1: Identify the application you want to modernize

The most common approach app development leaders take is to first modernize the ‘low-hanging fruit’. No doubt, this reduces risk; it allows you the opportunity to fail fast and fail safe. But, choosing an application only because it’s hanging low also minimizes the impact its modernization can have on your organizational IT. If the application you choose is rarely used, or costs little money, or does not have any impact on the day-to-day operations of your business, even a grand success might be ignored. 

What you need is a simple application that will yield maximum benefits in a short period of time. Perform a thorough business-driven analysis of your IT assets and choose an application that:

  • Is critical to your business.
  • Is used by a large-enough number of users.
  • Is either functionally or technically unhealthy — essentially those applications that are slow, non-performing or expensive.
  • Is small enough to show results in 8-12 weeks.

#2: Define your metrics

Be clear about what your modernization can and will achieve. Do not oversell the outcomes, which might result in your success appearing underwhelming. But make sure you’re not underestimating either, because that can make your initiative appear not worthwhile. Demonstrate the consequences of not modernizing, and the pay-offs of doing so. Here are some of the metrics you must consider:

  • Application performance: Improvement in response times and speed for the end-user; as well as reduction in computational resources used in doing so.
  • Customer experience: Improvement in customer satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter score (NPS) given by your end-users. 
  • Employee productivity: Time saved with custom workflows and automation.
  • Total cost of ownership: Money saved in building and running your application.
  • Time-to-application: Time saved in the development and deployment of future versions of your modernized application.

#3: Acknowledge the costs

Every technology initiative comes at a certain cost. This might be in terms of existing employee time and IT budgets, if you’re implementing in-house. It might be significant project costs, if you’re planning to outsource. But there are also the indirect costs such as upgrading the maintenance skills you need, educating your users about the modernized application, compliance requirements etc.

Ensure that you include all these costs in your business case proposal — it demonstrates your farsightedness and vision for the future.

#4: Devise your implementation roadmap

It’s crucial not to run before you can crawl. So, don’t push for all your applications to be modernized at once — if in doubt, go back and read #1. To mitigate risks and learn from your mistakes, implement in phases: Have 2-3 year sequences of updates. Have a clear and achievable timeline for each phase, keeping in mind the technical dependencies any of these might have. But three years is a long time in the technology world. Make your business case proposal dynamic to leverage the evolution in technology or your organizational growth.

In modernization projects, integration is one the biggest challenges of application modernization. 29% of those surveyed in the 2019 The State of Ecosystem and Application Integration Report cired that they fall short of the skilled resources required for managing integrations with current systems and ecosystems. Proactively address this aspect and other challenges in your business case. 

To help you devise a successful roadmap which includes business strategy, IT architecture, technical resources and processes, we propose our AMT Roadmap for application modernization. The AMT (assessment, maximization, transformation) Roadmap is a three stage framework that strategically assesses your business applications, maximizes your existing investments and transforms current systems using highly functional applications to bridge the technical and functional gaps. Using the AMT Roadmap, CIOs and IT leaders can standardize their business operations, improve business processes and nurture innovation using cutting edge technology across the enterprise.

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Insights

Build apps easily for multi device transformation – Wavemaker

Mobile app delivery is an essential part of digital transformation for enterprises. Organizations need to build an app not just one but multiple mobile applications for transformative experiences. Over and above there are other features that are needed like:

  • Role based access to apps,
  • Single sign on based authentication,
  • Visibility of application based on network/VPN,
  • UX and experience,
  • Style for native look and feel, and
  • Iterative publishing process.

Given that, not only skills for mobile apps are scarce, but also typically organizations lack a mature model for delivering multiple apps in a frictionless fashion.

Some of the mobile applications need deep native experiences and must be built as native mobile applications. If you are interested in native mobile app delivery, this is NOT the article for you. If simplifying end to end app delivery is something that interests you, then read on.

Traditional mobile app delivery model is time consuming as it uses manual hand coding. It also becomes complex to publish apps and the user experience is disconnected from development to delivery.

Many apps can easily utilize Hybrid Apps that use HTML5/CSS/Javascript/Cordova technologies and render that on a mobile WebView. This provides an easy way to build the application once and run on multiple devices. This results in saving not just the application development effort, but also QA and management of these apps on multiple devices.

However publishing apps on app stores is still a bottleneck as it may take several days to release a simple application.

Simplifying Multi-Device App Delivery

WaveMaker’s mission is to simplify end to end app delivery. WaveMaker Low Code development platform provides automation for building applications including:

  • Auto generation of backend APIs given the data and queries, stored procedures, custom code.
  • Pre-built drag drop Angular 7 based open source UI components with customizations for mobile native look and feel.
  • Simple integrations with external APIs, enterprise systems like LDAP/AD, SSO/SAML, VCS etc.
  • Out of the box prevention of OWASP vulnerability.

WaveMaker now presents a super simple solution for mobile app delivery with partner product Spotcues. Mobile apps built in WaveMaker can be published with a single click to Spotcues Micro App container (the only mobile app you ever install). So build your apps with no/very minimum code using WaveMaker low code platform and publish to existing app container providing WebView (no publishing of each app separately). This can be done iteratively for release any number of times a day.

In addition to unified delivery using the micro-app container, Spotcues can also provide some more features that can be optionally utilized including:

  • Intelligent search across multiple applications, open apps right from search.
  • Simple task based apps.
  • Push notifications, bubble notifications for micro-app to the mobile app.
  • Contextual access to micro apps based on role, department, location etc.
  • Real time insights on usage patterns and adoption.

To summarize, WaveMaker provides a super fast and easy mobile app delivery mechanism with Spotcues mobile app that provides Micro-App container. This can help enterprises achieve mobile digital transformation much more effectively and with a much faster pace bringing all the benefits of a low code platform. Talk to us to learn more about this.

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Enterprise Application Development

It’s Time for AppMakers to Become WaveMakers

The life of an application is as long as the platform that supports it. Starting April 15, 2020, new application creation on Google AppMaker will be disabled and on January 19, 2021, the App Maker editor and user apps are shut down. As administrators, end users and developers using Google AppMaker search for alternatives, Google put this out in their blog post as choices for migration of applications.

  • If you are using App Maker to automate business processes: Use AppSheet, a new addition to the application development portfolio that has capabilities similar to App Maker. Stored in Cloud SQL and App Sheet, App Maker data supports Cloud SQL databases, allowing you to build an application on the existing database linked to your App Maker app.
  • If you are using App Maker to develop apps: Use App Engine to build and deploy applications on a fully managed platform. With data stored in Cloud SQL, App Maker allows you to build an App Engine application on the existing Cloud SQL database linked to your App Maker app.
  • If you are using App Maker for data collection: Use Google Forms, which has many new features that were not available when App Maker launched.
  • If you are using AppMaker for basic form and simple business process automation: Use Google AppSheet and FormMaker as no code products suit well. They are good for simple data collection, form generation and data persistence.

For full-fledged app development, Google is recommending customers to move to AppEngine which is a Google’s PaaS platform to build applications in a traditional fashion. This alternative is unlike using a visual app development and delivery mechanism that provides greater productivity and faster time to market. However, the burden will now fall upon development teams to learn, integrate and manage application development and deployment. There are several challenges with introducing new technologies, re-learning takes time and it costs. Finding technical resources such as full-stack developers who will understand end-to-end application development is another challenge that enterprises will have to address. However, if you have a choice of integrating a platform that is user-friendly, requires minimal coding, and ensures upskilling of development teams, migration will be easier.

WaveMaker is positioned uniquely to provide a very good path for application development teams looking to migrate their applications to an open standards-based, scalable low-code platform. With WaveMaker, application development teams are assured of 3x faster productivity, developer-friendly environment with a fully customized modern code stack, availability of complete app source code, and most importantly no vendor lock-in. Best of all, WaveMaker provides all the enterprise capabilities around web-scale scalability, enterprise security and CI/CD mechanisms required for continuous and reliable delivery of your applications on any cloud of your choice.

Moreover, WaveMaker has inbuilt support for easy integration with external database SQL sources, RESTful integration, role-based app security controls, widget components library and ability to extend them and final deployment options on containers, Kubernetes or VMs.

To better understand how WaveMaker is easier and better to use, here’s a comparison with Google App Maker:

Features WaveMaker Google App Maker
“No Vendor Lock-in” Applications developed are based on proven open-source technologies and the platform libraries are available under open source license making maintenance of applications easier.. Uses proprietary technologies making the generated code (including platform libraries) difficult to maintain without deep knowledge of how the platform works.
Integrations
  • Supports API and web services integration.
  • Creates and import databases.
  • Provides a range of out-of-the-box integrations to instantly add powerful functionality to your apps.
  • You can also create custom integrations, called Prefabs, and reuse them across apps.
  • Integrates with Google Analytics and other applications in the G Suite bundle.
  • As multiple tools are used for integration, database integration sometimes requires writing custom Java code.
IDE Interoperability Offers two-way IDE interoperability and an open source runtime library, making application customization free from lock-in. Its cloud-based IDE does not allow exporting project code to external IDEs and re-import it to the platform.
Customization
  • The platform appeals equally to citizen developers and professional developers or enterprise development teams.
  • Supports the creation of complex, real-world enterprise applications.
  • Supports ‘2-pass development’ that allows business users first to create applications and then enables technical teams to customize, if required.
  • Supports simpler use cases and focuses on citizen developers.
  • Lack of customization and flexibility required by various stakeholders.
Deployment
  • 1-click preview and deployment
  • Packaging for Android and iOS apps stores.
  • Supports the flexibility of exporting WAR files of your applications, allowing deployment of applications independently.
  • Provides deployment to public cloud, private cloud and on-premise environment.
  • Lacks the flexibility to deploy applications independently.

If you are an existing AppMaker customer, we would love to partner with you on your application development journey!

 

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Insights

Internal vs External APIs: Does it matter?

For years, APIs and Services have been around in Enterprise Computing. In the good old middleware days, Service Oriented Architecture came into existence, and services were exposed using SOAP Web Service APIs. These APIs were mainly used to integrate applications to legacy systems and to one another.

With the advent of cloud, mobile, and the need for massive internal/external adoption of services, REST-based APIs have replaced SOAP Web services. REST APIs are HTTP based, lighter, easier to understand and integrate, and therefore, have become the de facto standard for creating enterprise APIs. Enterprise APIs can be internal APIs i.e. within or across LoB (Line of Business), or external APIs for partners and third-party developers.

In the past few years, enterprises, having learned from web-scale consumer APIs, realized that in order to create an ecosystem of applications around your API, it takes more than just creating an API and expecting consumers to use them. This is true for both internal and external APIs.

API Management

API management is the ability to document, publish, share, control, consume and monitor the consumption of APIs. All of this is done in a fashion that allows easy publishing and onboarding of developers using the APIs. So the question is:

If an enterprise is looking to publish internal and/or external APIs, is there a difference in managing them?

The majority of enterprises consume more internal APIs than external ones. API management is essential for both internal as well as external APIs as long as there is a need for,

  • Providing easy means to manage the lifecycle of APIs (Create, Publish, Version, and Retire).
  • Secure Access for protecting sensitive data that is being exposed.
  • Differentiated Access while allowing the consumption of APIs among stakeholders.
  • Easier onboarding of applications and developers that consume the APIs.
  • Monitoring real-time access and usage trends of APIs and take actions as required by the business.

So how do you begin with API management? What we see is, depending on the maturity of the enterprise, the journey of API adoption can vary. Some enterprises with no APIs will start with internal APIs, get the ball rolling, work closely with internal stakeholders to fine-tune the APIs, and then roll it out for external consumption. On the other hand, mature enterprises may start directly with external adoption. Some may just roll out internal APIs depending on the business need.  Let’s take a look at differences in the requirements when it comes to publishing and consuming APIs,

 

Internal APIs

External APIs

Creation of APIs APIs are created based on custom business logic and could be auto-generated during the application development process. APIs are tuned and designed as per the needs of the external partners and third-party developers.
API Publishing, Sharing, and Discovery Done on an Enterprise Developer Infrastructure/Network that is accessible to all other applications within the Enterprise. Done on an External API Portal that is accessible to External Partners and third-party developers.
Purpose of API Consumption Increase internal app development productivity, integrate applications within and across LoB resulting in streaming business operations. Increase partner business opportunities, create new business models, and in some cases, direct consumer integration.
API Discovery Need to be discovered on the same developer platform used by other internal applications willing to consume the APIs. Need a public-facing portal to discover the APIs, explore them, and sample them.
API Subscription May not need a stringent subscription plan to consume the APIs. Need diverse subscription PLANs for API consumers to subscribe to and then consume based on SLAs, Payment Plans, etc.
API Policing Need to make sure access of APIs are metered, rate-limited, and accessible based on Enterprise LoB needs and access rights. Need fine-grained API control around security, access, rate limits, SLAs, and access limits based on Partner usage models and subscription PLANs.
API Access May or may not need special tokens or keys to access the APIs. Mainly depends on the sensitive nature of data being exposed. Need API Keys and security tokens to access the APIs.
API Invocations API Invocations are in very large numbers as they are consumed by the Internal Applications. Dependent on business requirements for access to external stakeholders. May be much smaller number for Enterprise LoB Use Cases.

 

Platforms that provide a unified approach to rolling out internal and/or external APIs can better facilitate enterprises willing to develop an ecosystem around their APIs. At WaveMaker, we aim to make the journey from internal to external API Publishing a seamless one. As mentioned in my earlier post, WaveMaker Studio, via API Designer feature, allows for publishing, sharing, and consuming APIs internal to the enterprise.  As these APIs become foolproof, and enterprises like to develop an ecosystem around it, they can use WaveMaker Gateway that allows for publishing, sharing, management, and consumption of APIs by external partners and third-party developers. WaveMaker Gateway provides full-fledged API management capabilities and is specifically designed, positioned, and priced for enterprises wanting to embrace and develop API Ecosystems around Partners and third-party developers. Click here for a demo of WaveMaker Gateway.

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How Low-code Prepares Manufacturers for Industry 4.0

The transition from “physical-to-digital-to-physical”, that’s what Industry 4.0 is about. It is a state in which manufacturing systems connect, communicate and use the information of physical systems to drive actionable intelligence executable digitally.

The opportunities that you as a manufacturing leader have today to improve operational efficiency depend on the technologies you decide to adopt at various points in the value chain. Different types of digital technologies are adopted in the manufacturing sector, from robotics, additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence and augmented reality. 

Across the manufacturing value chain – from design, development, manufacturing, sale, and service – integration and convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) network devices are one of the key enablers in “smart manufacturing”. Using data from the industrial internet of things (IIoT) and with emerging technology you can seamlessly steer processes and systems towards Industry 4.0. 

Gearing Up For Industry 4.0? Why Manufacturers Need to Use Low-Code Platforms 

The core principle of smart manufacturing revolves around connecting people, machines, devices, systems and processes. Rapid application development has become the essence of driving this connection across the enterprise from the production floor to the customer site. 

For instance, by using field service applications your workforce can access information offline when offsite, improving their productivity. By adopting microservices and generating APIs, you can develop applications with data analytics and dashboards enabling the onsite workforce to achieve faster, data-driven planning, production, and service. 

To develop and deploy applications at a speed aligned to enterprise demands manufacturers are widely adopting rapid application development platforms. Here’s how low-code platforms empower manufacturing leaders in mastering the fourth industrial revolution:

  • Digitizes and simplifies the supply chain – With the need to simplify the supply chain and ensure vendors have more control and accessibility over inventory, manufacturers are digitizing their processes. Low-code platforms help to build smart applications that enable manufacturers and vendors to better manage supply and operations planning, optimize logistics and inventory management, and provide actionable business intelligence that improves decision making.
  • Accelerates application development to create connected factories – To achieve the transformation required to create data-driven, smart factories, rapid application development is a key enabler. Low-code No-code platforms empower manufacturing leaders, developers, and IT teams to create a connected enterprise by enabling the development of different types of applications such as field service apps and core business apps. 
  • Improves operational efficiency and worker productivity – There are several tasks on the factory floor and offsite which are rudimentary and repetitive. To improve efficiency and save time spent by workers on activities such as invoice and claims processing, order management, and supply chain management, low-code tools help to automate tasks. By developing web and mobile applications, data is accessible instantly and is shared seamlessly between teams, augmenting their productivity. It also improves efficiency by reducing data-entry errors and providing access to critical data at the right time.
  • Augments the potential of engineers and developers to deliver more – Experienced developers are not easy to find. In manufacturing companies, developers need to create applications that can connect onsite and offsite, web and mobile applications with back-end systems that require them to be manufacturing experts. As this breed of developers is rare, application development for specific use cases becomes a long process. Low-code platforms provide developers and engineers with the tools to address challenges that they understand best, making application development and modernization initiatives faster.

Low-code platforms are increasingly becoming popular among manufacturers as they offer modernization of processes, customization of digital solutions, flexibility and extensibility for scalable implementation and effective digital transformation. Take for example this success story about a large textile manufacturer in South Asia. They had an Order Management System that was built using Oracle Forms and Reports. With the need to modernize their existing forms and report applications, a new core business application was developed to help scale and meet business demands for the next decade. Here’s the gist of how they benefited:

  • Enhanced usability for users – With a modern UI, responsive designs, and by incorporating functional logic within the pages using custom widgets, the new application improved the usability for end-users.
  • Reduced the time to market – By providing a WYSIWYG interface to develop the entire application using visual drag and drop features, it reduced development time.
  • Ensured seamless reuse and integration – With easy to use integration features, existing database logic and data were integrated without complexity.
  • Enabled quick setup and deployment –Applications could be moved to any hybrid or multi-cloud environment and automated deployment was possible using containerization.

Take a look at the success story to know more about how this textile manufacturing company used low-code to modernize their legacy systems.

What’s Beyond Industry 4.0? The Way Ahead is Industry 5.0

Industry 4.0 is defined by intensive digitalization and technological disruption. The next level is Industry 5.0 which will be a transformation of how humans interact with new technologies. It will be about contextualization and inculcating a collective perspective about industrial technology. It will be about how humans and machines will collaborate and work together like the cobots (collaborative robots) observed in many manufacturing units already. As the relationship between man and machine intensifies and becomes more interconnected, digitalization in the Industry 4.0 era will need to be strong to usher in the Industry 5.0 era; an era that will be defined by collaboration between humans and technology and how they will master the art of working together with efficiency and accuracy.