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Within a matter of weeks, the way we work, live and do business has drastically changed. In the rush to contain the situation, we’ve turned to technology as our saving grace. In doing so, we’ve effectively hit a “fast-forward” button on many tech trends that were already in place. From remote work and virtual events to virus-monitoring big data, technologies that were perhaps only familiar to a fringe tech community are now entering center stage, these changes are likely here to stay.

While communication, collaboration, project management and innovation have become buzzwords, the challenges of remote working continue to impact businesses. Let’ take a look at the implications of the current rapid change in work environments and how technology can help alleviate challenges:

1. Communication

Communication is the number one issue in most work environments — not just among remote teams. However, varying time zones and flexible schedules can wreak havoc on workflow and team collaboration. Thus, employers need to step in and provide enough structure and leadership to set the tone for communication among their staff.

Tips for Improving Communication Among Remote Teams

Tools and processes are only as good as the people who use them. Ask for team member input and honor their preferences to the best of your ability. Find or build communication applications that connect team members. Using a low-code platform can help to create modern applications that will ensure better communication between team members at a speed that your business demands.

2. Project Management

Project management is hard enough, and it can seem a challenge when team members are dispersed worldwide. However, depending on your industry and types of projects, several online tools exist to align team members, assign tasks, track progress, and make changes. If you already use software applications to manage projects for in-office teams, you would have no problem managing remote employees with the same tools.

Tips for Managing Projects with Remote Teams

Cloud-based project management tools work best for virtual teams. There are dozens of options to choose from, so try the demo versions of platforms until you find one that makes sense for your project and team. Also, consider using the agile project management method and hold daily scrum calls to keep everyone on task and to maintain leaner and meaner teams. Agile is especially helpful for projects with fast-approaching deadlines and numerous milestones.

3. Innovation

There’s something to be said for whiteboard sessions and sharing creative energy with colleagues. Since the remote workspace changes the nature of collaboration, it can also create barriers for creativity and innovation. Team members may not catch the same vibes over the phone as they would live in a meeting room.

Tips for Harnessing Innovation within Remote Teams

Give your teams the space and processes they need to communicate freely, share ideas, and hold brainstorming sessions. Leverage video conferencing and online apps like Zoom, Slack, Lucidchart, Webex, and Teams to document the development process. To provide bandwidth for innovation, empower your teams with emerging tech such as low-code. This not only helps them to deliver more with less, it gives them access to a modern software stack and an environment to collaborate, upskill, and focus on tasks that deliver business value.

4. Security

How do you keep information safe among dispersed team members and devices? You want to ensure that your company’s sensitive and confidential information is secure no matter where your employees work or what devices or applications they use.

Tips to Ensure Security within Remote Teams

Education and training are essential when it comes to information security. Help your employees understand the risks and how to mitigate them in their daily tasks. Create security policies that set requirements for anti-virus software, uploading and downloading information and applications, creating passwords, and clicking on email links. When creating your own applications using low-code platforms, security is typically inbuilt and is an integral part in the entire application development lifecycle. With granular authorization, comprehensive authentication, and OWASP compliance support, applications can be developed using fine-grained controls with out-of-the-box security. In this way your remote teams can build and use secure and scalable enterprise-grade applications.

In a future riddled with uncertainties, a forced metamorphosis or transformation is necessary. How business is conducted, the way teams work, and the work culture is changing and you need to be prepared and agile to tide over. In such times, technology has proven to be a robust backbone on which business continuity is ensured. Making the most of this situation, now is the time for you to adopt technology to transform the way your remote teams work and future-proof your business.

Originally published in Techstory

It’s the time of disruption, where, as an enterprise you need to innovate, adapt, and embrace change quickly.

Processes need to be modified and customized, and teams need to be flexible, lean and agile, to keep up with the changing situation. Enterprise agility has become a necessity and to be agile has become a way of being and working.

What it takes to drive the change that the current situation demands is an agile leader empowered with the right tools. There are several enterprise tools an agile leader can use, from team collaboration programs, communications tools, project management software and other tools required to enable transition to remote working successfully. The widespread adoption of enterprise tools has led to an increasing demand to build enterprise applications.

In times when quick changes are required, you may think how you can transform your enterprise to become agile. One of the ways most companies are empowering teams and driving continuous change is by using low-code platforms to create enterprise applications fast. Let’s take a look at how a low-code/no-code platform can be used as an agile leader’s tool to achieve enterprise agility:

Move Quickly to Respond to Business Needs Using an API-Driven Approach

Agile means to be able to move fast. Speed is essential to business success. The company that moves faster to solve a problem, and creates a product to respond to a need will be the business that wins. Agility is often more achieved when actions are led by aspiration.

Businesses are looking for platforms that reduce cycle times and improve organizational agility by delivering applications at the pace of business. As an enterprise solution delivery, low-code provides rapid application development using WYSIWYG drag and drop feature and offers the ability to edit generated code.

APIs today form the essence of business applications and application architecture. With an API-driven app development approach to integrate Private Cloud and DIY maintenance, most low-code platforms support APIs at best.

  • Create and reuse custom components or business logic across applications using reusable API “Prefab” modules and team collaboration capabilities including version control and shared projects.
  • Integrate with third party REST APIs with the assurance that the low-code platform provides full lifecycle support including authentication and authorization.
  • Enable two-way integration with automatic API creation for existing business logic.

To respond quickly to business needs, using low-code platforms with API-driven approach can help you to create auto-responsive apps for websites, tablets, and smartphones at the desired speed.

Embrace Rapid Change by Driving Value

In the face of rapid change and uncertainty, agile leaders thrive. They do this by creating an environment where stakeholders push change forward by driving adoption through frequent, incremental changes that constantly produce value.

According to Gartner, application leaders will need to identify ways to leverage technology and by 2024 the focus of successful application teams will be on how to use technology to meet their customers’ needs and wants.

Teams will need to move from the current focus on the technology of applications to pursue design thinking to foster a culture that sees things from the customer’s perspective. One of the ways to imbibe design thinking in platform strategies is by using rapid application development. Low-code supports all key principles of ‘Design Thinking’ to solve the problem right.

  • Low-code lets you Prototype / POC’s to ‘show’ working software to the end users and not just ‘tell’ a story, for early/timely feedback.
  • It enables a cross-functional team for radical collaboration bringing their own unique perspectives to solve real problems right.
  • It enables you to focus on the process and iterate it for improving.  This can fill the gap that exists in many organizations that have successfully passed through the initial rounds of agility and are looking for a set of practices to help them enter into the third wave of Business Agility.

The premise of solving the right problem, solving it right, and realizing the value at the earliest is best supported using emerging tech such as low-code platforms.

Inspire Creativity and Innovation in Your Employees

Agile is not only a way of working it is also a way of being. Fostering an agile culture in an organization, it’s important to make sure employees have time for creative thinking. It’s not enough to establish methods of automation and develop a cadence of smaller releases, so work is constantly improved upon.

Leaders must inspire creativity and innovation within employees so that they can contribute directly. Low-code allows developers to think and iterate at a granular level, making a big difference in customer satisfaction or cost optimization. What low-code platforms provide is an environment of collaboration where continuous learning culture is nurtured.

  • Innovation doesn’t always come from continuous improvements, but also is generated when the norm is shaken up, and the status quo is rapidly improved. Modifying solutions based on customer needs is an innovative approach to change and low-code platforms support modification and customization.
  • By using a low-code platform you can have ideas and fresh perspectives from professionals of multiple backgrounds. Therefore, motivating people to learn from each other and collaborate on projects and creating a ‘fun’ environment.
  • The backbone of innovation is technology and low-code is rapidly growing to meet the demand for new mobile applications and the possibility of delivering them via the cloud.

Organizational agility is driven by technology teams led by agile leaders. Low-code platforms lets technology teams build enterprise applications substantially faster to meet rapid changing business objectives thus aligning the agility between IT and Business.

Not only can you build leaner and smaller teams who deliver fast, using low-code you can offer a workbench to nurture full-stack developers and create an environment of continuous learning, collaboration, and innovation.

At a time when we need to navigate around the ‘new normal of constant change, the future-proof software stack that a low-code platform  offers is the perfect intuitive toolset that agile leaders need to drive the disruption.

Originally published in Business Matters

By Mayur Shah,
Senior Director,
Platform Marketing & Management

Earlier this year, the Democratic party in Iowa announced its plans to use a smartphone app to calculate and transmit their caucus results. Using technology to improve the speed of governance, one would think, “What could possibly go wrong? A lot, apparently. The app’s failure on results day was attributed to reporting and coding issues.

While security was the matter of concern from the day of its announcement, the inevitable happened. Data and security breaches happen almost every minute. University of Maryland researchers find cyberattacks every 39 seconds. The last decade has seen many data breaches, putting personal information of billions of users in the hands of dubious entities. Every enterprise, from Yahoo to Facebook and Target to Home Depot, has been under attack—and this is likely to continue. Research has found that cybersecurity breaches will result in over 146 billion records stolen by 2023.

Poor security is putting enterprises, governments and citizens at risk every day. Yet, in a hurry to leverage technology, companies bring unsecured applications to market all the time. In essence, they sacrifice security for speed. Adding to this, today’s modern web and mobile applications are built with latest and greatest technology stacks and frameworks, heavily reliant on client side functionality, and integration to multiclouds and third party systems using a myriad of APIs. Also teams are more diverse and work collaboratively using remote workforces.

These trends increase the security challenges the application development teams need to be aware of, and leverage platforms that provide built-in controls and protection against these to avoid security breaches and attacks.

While prioritizing speed over security in application development take into consideration the following mistakes that you need to avoid and address.

Not Looking at Data Security Holistically 

Data tends to be the most important and valuable aspect of modern web applications. Poor application design and architecture leads to data and security breaches. Application development teams generally assume that by providing the right authentication and authorization measures to the application, data will be protected. This is a misconception. Right measures to provide data security involve focussing on data integrity, fine grained data access and encrypting data while in rest as well as in motion. In addition, data security needs to be looked at holistically from the time the request is made to the time response is sent back across all layers of the application runtime.

Not Considering Security Across the Application Development Lifecycle 

Today’s modern web applications are highly sophisticated and built with a big focus on simplistic user experience combined with high scalability. This combination can be challenging for application development teams from a security perspective. Most development teams focus only on silos when securing the application (only client, server or integration layer). Teams should focus on end-to-end full stack security when developing applications. Also application teams should enforce security best practices incorporated by default as part of the collaborative development process.

Not Focusing on API Security

Most of the modern web applications use APIs from systems and services which include internal enterprise systems, cloud SaaS APIs, partner APIs and third party product APIs. Today, almost all web applications tend to expose their own functionality to the external environment as a core set of APIs. What’s more, nearly 100% of web applications today tend to expose its own functionality as a core set of APIs to the external world. Teams need to make sure they are using external APIs with proper security guidelines and protocols as well as exposing their own APIs with multiple choices of protecting them. API access needs to be protected with both coarse grained as well as fine grained measures.

Not Providing Strong Authorization and Authentication Methods

Authenticating your application and authorizing what users can access is an important part of application security. Without this, you are leaving your attack surface wide open. Your application needs to incorporate stringent and strong measures for authentication to prevent unauthorized access. This includes multi-factor authentication, passwordless authentication, single sign on and if using passwords very strong password policies. It must also offer fine grained role-based access control preventing access of sensitive and confidential data to non-privileged users. Moving to a market with ambiguous weak authentication, lack of fine grained control, improper session control and insufficient logging might not seem like a probable risk until you’re attacked.

Not Incorporating Vulnerability Testing Throughout the Development Lifecycle

Security threats are evolving faster than anyone can keep track of. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), a community of application developers and security professionals, identifies the top 10 security risks each application team must mitigate. This includes risks across injection, data exposure, misconfiguration, security deserialization and so on. Development teams should incorporate vulnerability assessment as a continuous process and not leave it at the end of the deployment cycle.

Automating Security with Development Platforms

Integrating security into your application development process does not have to slow you down. By utilizing key technologies such as a low-code platform, you can accelerate development and enable security procedures at the same time.

While promising accelerated development, what an ideal low-code application development platform offers is a visual development environment and code-customization with two-way workplace sync with IDEs. It also enables autogeneration of code, ensures extensibility and reuse with prefabs, and allows for full integration with CI/CD pipelines.

One of the important features of a low-code platform is built-in security, one that ensures automation of the development of application-level security features. A perfect platform provides a configuration for prevention of security vulnerabilities such as XSS and CSRF and ensures in-built encryption, robust authentication and authorization systems, along with enterprise-grade auditability and traceability.

While speed may be the name of the game, rolling out your applications without considering security would have little positive impact if they fail to function and are not secure. One of the best ways to integrate security across your application development lifecycle is to leverage the benefits of low-code platforms that are designed for professional development, those that have built-in, application-level security features. While your application development plans may be time-critical, security cannot be an afterthought, because sacrificing security for speed may make it longer for you to mitigate the risks than achieve your application development goals.

Originally published in Devops.com

By Vijay Pullur,
CEO, WaveMaker.

Recently, I was in conversation with a business associate who is an IT leader of an insurance company. Our conversation revolved around how digital transformation is revolutionizing the insurance industry faster than other sectors. He spoke about how the expectations include technology in every sense, from self-service dashboards, faster claims processing, simpler and smarter purchasing experiences, and insurance as a service. As our discussion veered from digital transformation to the new wave of modernization, he made an interesting statement. All he wished in the coming year was to automate systems without disruption, reduce labor-intensive processes, minimize IT dependency and reduce application maintenance and support costs.

It seemed to be a reasonable wish, considering that in this IT-powered world, digital transformation and modernization seem to have taken center stage. Ours is a world where speed is critical and enterprises are under pressure to deliver faster and build rapidly and with greater efficiency.

As the hypercompetitive landscape becomes more hectic, enterprises are aiming to operate faster and smarter, placing "digital-first" strategies in the limelight. A recent example of companies investing in modernization and digital transformation is the Google’s acquisition of Appsheet, a no-code mobile app development platform. With the aim to revamp the approach to application development, Google acquired this platform to empower development teams to develop, deploy and deliver applications seamlessly.

The fact that 40% of technology spending (that’s more than $2 trillion) was on digital transformation in 2019 illustrates the importance of having a "digital-first" strategy.

In 2020, CIOs and IT leaders are focusing on modernization to achieve operational excellence, agility, mobility and scalability. The central plot in most digital transformation stories is the modernization of legacy systems, and as it becomes a mainstream priority, the protagonist in this story is emerging technology. In this plot, the role of software application development must be considered seriously, more than just serving as props. The first step that will usher in successful transformation is understanding how technology has evolved and how it can be adopted.

Over the decades, software application development has witnessed an interesting journey. Growing in complexity over time, it has evolved from using spreadsheets and simple scripts to custom software development by IT teams and rapid application development (RAD) or low-code development by business users. The pace of developing software applications has accelerated. The tech infrastructure has also moved on from on-premises to cloud environments, and from software as a service (SaaS) to application platform as a service (aPaaS) to infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solutions.

Along with the evolution of technology, the roles of stakeholders such as application leaders, IT teams and business users are also changing. While there is an increasing overlap between roles, the gap between business and IT teams does not seem to have reduced. Here is where technology plays an important role in bridging the gap between silos and upskilling existing teams to reduce the skills gap.

In modernization initiatives, technology is being widely adopted to accelerate application development. APaas solutions and centralized application development platforms help to harness the potential emerging technologies. With low-code development, you can develop, deploy and integrate applications with other services seamlessly. Rapid application development platforms bring more control to IT teams, to deliver and innovate more with less. Giving more power to IT and professional developers instead of citizen developers also addresses the issue of shadow IT.

While modernization and digital transformation initiatives are implemented at a breathtaking pace, not all stories have spelled success. Owing to many challenges, the success of projects has been tepid, and hesitation has been high. Modernization of legacy systems have witnessed several friction points such as concerns about security, stress on IT teams, alignment of business and IT, and the absence of a strong modernization strategy.

Another challenge the industry is currently facing is the shortage of technical talent. As the dependency on specialist roles continues to increase, enterprises are looking toward technology as a solution. For instance, rapid application development platforms are considered a viable solution because they reduce the dependency on technical resources, empower existing teams to upskill and enable development teams to achieve more with a self-service approach to application development.

These challenges aside, one of the questions most IT leaders are asking is “How do we ensure business continuity and transition with least disruption in business operations?” Disruption seems to be one of the major challenges and is addressed by rapid application development platforms that offer the power to develop applications quickly and ensure seamless integration with existing systems.

As IT leaders vacillate about decisions to modernize systems, mulling over necessary change is only going to make it more difficult to transform. Taking a strategic approach to modernization is of the essence, and the main factor that can make or break your efforts is how well you manage the entire application and software development life cycle.

The competitive landscape requires you to raise the stakes. It requires you to do things better and with greater speed. It requires you to try different approaches to address challenges.

The year 2020 and beyond will witness rapid change, technologically and culturally. What enterprises need to understand is that digital transformation should be considered an ongoing state of change rather than as a one-time project, and the approach has to evolve constantly. Rapid application development is gaining speed because it provides a platform-driven approach to app modernization and it focuses on bridging gaps and breaking silos. It helps to align business and IT teams, bridge the IT skills gap and break the application, infrastructure, and organizational silos. If we are to usher in the coming decade, we need to transform to keep up with the digitally dexterous, hypercompetitive and IT-powered world.

Originally published in Forbes