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Adaptive Apps: Survival of the Fittest Software

on May 17, 2012

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At the intersection of application delivery trends like agile methodology and abstracted development languages, lies an interesting byproduct: adaptive apps. The days of enormous enterprise systems cast in code are over – light-weight, light-risk apps that evolve with business needs are here. The cloud is a given, as is mobile, and we’re getting to the point where IT departments can produce results (read: enable change) at the same speed as their consumer counterparts – security and integration included.

Enterprise apps are living organisms genetically [and literally] programmed to create business value. The moment they stop producing an ROI, they die – and in order to keep producing an ROI, they have to grow, expand, and evolve. In today’s landscape of fast, light-weight apps – “maintaining” an app isn’t just processing and deploying change requests on a quarter-by-quarter release schedule. Maintaining an app means creating a continuous feedback loop between end users (those truly responsible for weaving value from an app) and the project team responsible for enabling that value.

If you’re initial response to this is: “Well, wouldn’t that be great – but we’ve invested eight figures into our technology and it’s no longer cast in code, it’s cast in spaghetti because of all the changes we’ve made to it. Keeping this system alive by employing a small city off-shore is cheaper and faster than rebuilding the whole thing and sprinkling it with plant food. Now what, Eric?” – Stay calm. Keep reading.

Ripping and replacing software isn’t the proposed solution here – in fact, there’s probably some value living in that pile of spaghetti that you can still make use of. The data layer for instance – it usually doesn’t need to evolve with business needs the way logic and presentation layers do. So keep your gargantuan implementation intact, just stop throwing money and bodies at it. Start thinking lean and smart about your enterprise app ecosystem.

While all of this may sound very Zen to some, we work with companies that are living out this philosophy in their technology strategy today. It takes some getting used to – as do the previously mentioned trends that make this strategy possible – but the market shift to ‘build for change’ is measurable. More and more research suggests that end user organizations (non-tech) have caught up to tech organizations in agile adoption. Companies in all industries see value in adaptive apps just as tech companies must evolve their products and services to compete – does yours?

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