Hans de Visser on June 10, 2014
And four ingredients to make them irresistible
In my inaugural Mendix blog post a few weeks ago, I shared my excitement about the style of application development that Mendix supports. These apps are typically built in an iterative approach, focus on business outcomes and are small and nimble.
Analysts like Gartner and Forrester refer to these type of applications as Systems of Differentiation / Innovation and Systems of Engagement respectively. These apps are supplementing and extending the so-called systems of records; the transaction backbones like ERP, policy administration or core banking systems.
The need for more agile and engaging apps has become quite manifest as consumer demand and expectations for interacting with suppliers of goods and services have fundamentally changed. And not only consumers; employees and business partners demand the same user experience for enterprise systems as they are getting with all the social media and consumer apps that have become part of their life.
Traditional systems of record simply can’t cope with the pace of change required to respond to evolving needs. They’re also not providing businesses with the competitive edge that’s needed to stay ahead in the game.
As I see huge potential for business operations improvement by adopting this style of application development, I was wondering if the concept is getting adopted more widely in our industry.
Interestingly enough, I recently became aware of a new start-up called Elementum that spun off from Flextronics, one of the world’s leading contract manufacturing companies. Elementum is backed by highly prominent investors.
The Elementum proposition is to address the unique supply chain challenges that OEM manufacturing companies are facing in their global supply chain operations. Supply chain made simple. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Deborah Gage, Nader Mikhail summarizes the key differentiator of Elementum as follows: “Most players have looked at this space and said, let’s build a big system to help you run your supply chain. We say, there are 50 unique problems that an OEM has to deal with, and each one deserves a bite-size app.”
The benefit of this approach is that “The software can be deployed in weeks instead of the months or years required by older supply chain software.”
I like this “bite-size” label, and it’s intriguing to see it popping up in an enterprise context for apps that address complex business challenges.
While Elementum focuses on building a series of standard apps to address specific supply challenges, organizations across industries are turning to app platforms to enable business and IT to rapidly build those bite-sized apps in collaborative fashion. The philosophy is very similar though. And one thing is sure: this movement is for real.
Shorter time-to-value in this context actually delivers a two-fold benefit. Not only is the time and effort it takes to build and deploy these apps significantly reduced. More importantly, as they are fit-for-purpose and address very specific business challenges, the value that they bring is increasing as well. They’re bite-size apps that boost your business.
Now, having a platform to build bite-size apps doesn’t guarantee that success comes automatically. Here are four principles, ingredients if you like, that I recommend you to apply to deliver great apps that users will love.
Software companies at the forefront of technology development are now offering viable alternatives for traditional IT approaches. The days of daunting IT projects that take ages before solutions are delivered seem to be numbered.
The good news is that you can try and experiment this approach yourself. Just sign up for our Community Edition and find a buddy from IT or the business (depending where you come from) and discover how easy it is to build that app that boosts your business.
Need to be convinced? Have a look how Dun & Bradstreet adopts this style of apps to deliver value to their customers and partners.
Would like to learn how Mendix supports the four principles to build irresistible bite-sized apps? Download our e-book and see how you can break away from the traditional app delivery model.
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