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Survey Reveals Widening App Delivery Chasm (Plus 3 Things You Can Do to Cross It)

/ November 19, 2014

One of the most common themes we hear from CIOs and IT leaders is that demand for custom business applications is growing faster than IT’s ability to deliver. While there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence (and horror stories) to suggest this gap, there have been few, if any, attempts to quantify it. Until today.

This morning, we published the results of a survey of nearly 500 global IT and business executives. Our goal was to understand the gap between business demand and IT readiness. What we found was staggering: 71% of companies aren’t equipped to handle app delivery demands, meaning their business needs exceed IT’s ability to deliver. This App Delivery Chasm is only getting worse as businesses look to compete with apps and IT struggles to keep up using outdated approaches.

twitter-app-chasmThe Bad News: Demand is Growing, But So are Backlogs and Project Failures

Our research found that demand for custom business applications is growing rapidly, fueled by digital transformation initiatives. Specifically, customer-facing and mobile apps were in strong demand, cited by 69 percent and 75 percent of respondents respectively.

But pure demand is just the start. In addition to needing more apps, the business is expecting shorter turnarounds; requesting more changes; and looking to increase their involvement in app delivery projects. This heightened sense of urgency reflects the pressure many organizations face to innovate faster.

Here’s the thing, though: IT output is stagnant and project performance is suffering. 82 percent of respondents have a project backlog, and of those, 89 percent were unable to reduce it year over year. In addition, nearly three-quarters of organizations fail to consistently meet project success criteria, such as delivering on time, on budget, meeting business requirements and generating business value.

The Good News: There are 3 Success Factors to Cross the App Delivery Chasm

While that’s the bad news, the survey fortunately revealed some good news too. Specifically, we identified three factors that distinguished successful organizations from their peers:

  1. Implement an application strategy – Respondents that use a framework like Gartner’s Pace-Layered Application Strategy reported higher percentages of applications delivered on time, under budget, meeting requirements and generating value.
  2. Involve the business – Respondents that listed high levels of IT-business collaboration and enabled citizen developers to build apps also scored significantly higher.
  3. Modernize the development environment – Organizations with more advanced development environments that facilitate easy sharing of prototypes for user feedback and include an integrated deployment environment outperformed their peers by a two-to-one margin.

When asked about the App Delivery Chasm and how his organization has crossed it, MassHousing CIO Charles Schiappa shared the following:

“The App Delivery Chasm is a very real challenge facing CIOs and their teams. With more and more demand from our business, the only way out of this hole is to change the paradigm and deliver applications in a drastically faster, more collaborative way. With the help of Mendix, we’ve taken projects from years of planning and development effort to complete solutions delivered in weeks, with business stakeholders and users much more engaged in the process.”