According to BCG research, 70% of digital initiatives fail. A major challenge leading to this failure is the disconnect between business and IT. In a PwC study, 35% of C-suites said that misalignment between their business and IT teams was a hurdle to their digital success. It does not mean they hate each other but they couldn’t find a common ground. In most cases, the business teams don’t know what it takes to build an application and IT doesn’t know what exactly the end-user needs. Wouldn’t it be great if IT teams create a scalable infrastructure for citizen developers? Business teams can build applications on their own and seek IT help only when needed. Low-code development makes this possible. Let’s break down what makes low-code development a hero.
Collaboration is the key to building a usable, scalable, and viable solution
A two-way collaboration between the business and IT teams at different levels is the lifeblood of a digital initiative.
The story of a digital application begins at the planning phase where you consider the problem, solution, and ROI. ROI helps you measure the profitability of a solution. A positive ROI for a solution means you are getting more value out of the solution than your investment. Forecasting the ROI at the project planning stage helps you make informed decisions.
While calculating the ROI, you must consider both direct costs and indirect costs from business and IT perspectives. Business executives cannot estimate talent and IT infrastructure costs for the digital initiative. They should work closely with the IT team to get these numbers. Only then they can calculate the ROI more precisely and understand if the initiative will make or break.
Development and maintenance
Your IT team can build a viable digital application only when they understand the problem and the solution. For example, you want a mobile solution for inventory management. It should do more than what an Excel sheet or your accounting software does. It should have features like real-time end-to-end inventory tracking, stock alerts, supply chain management, etc. An IT person wouldn’t know what these features are and what should be the workflow for these operations. Your inventory manager should explain in detail.
Next, what should be the scale of the application? For this, the IT teams need to know the volume of data they are going to deal with. They should consider details such as product categories, warehouse capacity, and daily sales volume. Again, this information comes to the IT teams from the business team.
You are building a digital application with a long-term agenda. As your business grows, you may add new locations, more product categories, and new vendors and revise workflows. Suppose during the holiday season, you maintain a large volume of stock and hire more temporary staff to keep up with the demand. Your IT team needs to scale up the solution to support the back-office operations. Once the season gets over, they again scale it down enough to match the regular volume of operations. Otherwise, you would incur extra costs.
What an inventory manager or a finance person sees is if the solution handles high volumes. Building such a scalable infrastructure is the IT team’s problem but they should get this information from the business teams. Your digital applications should be scalable, flexible, and agile to reflect these changes and continue to serve their purpose. There has never been an application in the digital world that never require maintenance. Continuous maintenance support is essential for a digital application. Should the maintenance fail, everything comes to a grinding halt. So, the synergy between the business and IT teams is essential for faster and smoother execution. However, this synergy often misses in a fast-paced, hierarchical organization.
While you focus on processes and products, you should also keep the end users in mind. The UI should be simple and intuitive for the end users. From our example above, it’s the warehouse staff using the application. If the end users feel uncomfortable using the solution, they will stick to the old systems and your investment will go down the drain. So, IT teams should be aware of what kind of UI/UX the end users would love. This knowledge should come from the respective business teams. If there is an information gap, the end users will have a nightmare using the solution. This will lead to a poor adoption rate of the solution. You will not get a justifiable ROI and the initiative will be declared a failure.
The disparity between work and resources
From what we discussed above, the two-way relationship between business and IT is inevitable for successful digital initiatives. Developing and maintaining a digital application is a time- and resource-intensive activity. Throw a couple more solutions into your digital strategy, and your existing IT team would be swamped.
Would a non-IT business risk investing more in digital initiatives for intangible results? For example, the primary focus of a retail business would be inventory, pricing, and sales. The C-suites have expertise in these core business aspects. They wouldn’t consider building an in-house IT team to develop applications in the first place. If at all they did, they would do it on a small scale. Overloaded and pressed for time, IT teams couldn’t support all the planned digital initiatives. 61% of business executives say their IT teams implement less than 50% of their proposals.
Plug the disconnect between IT and business with low code development
Low-code development is a breakthrough in software development. This technology has broken down the barriers to adopting digital applications for enterprise operations; especially for non-IT businesses. Anyone with little coding knowledge can build enterprise applications using low-code development platforms such as Microsoft Power Apps.
The adoption of low-code platforms has been rising. According to Gartner, 75% of enterprises will be using at least four low-code development tools by 2024. Almost every organization believes that low-code platforms unlock new capabilities for them.
Less dependency and high efficiency with low code development
Low-code platforms address the gap between IT teams and business teams by reducing dependencies on IT teams. They enable citizen developers to build applications as per their needs. For example, an inventory manager has a better understanding of inventory workflow. She knows the inventory language. Who else would be the better person than the inventory manager to build an inventory application?
If the inventory manager has enough coding knowledge, he can build the solution on his own. Else, he can go to the IT team for help. The amount of time spent by the IT team would be relatively less when compared to traditional software development. From conception to deployment, you can build an application as fast as in a week. In traditional methods, it would take at least 4 months based on the complexity of the application.
The example of Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) helps you understand how low-code platforms help improve the relationship between the IT and business teams. WBA used Microsoft Power Apps to develop an inventory management application. Previously, their asset protection managers were using paper forms, spending almost four hours for each store visit. They used to take those papers to the back office and enter data into Excel. There was a lot of redundant work done. Their asset protection team, without having any IT background, was able to build a mobile application using Power Apps.
“As a business owner, I can develop tools and resources myself that make sense for my team and drive value without having to pull in another group for assistance,” says Jeff Toler who headed the asset protection app development at WBA using Power Apps.
While building the app by themselves on Power Apps, WBA could cut the development time by anywhere between 50 and 80 percent. And they could reduce their in-store audit time by 75 percent.
Create your digital ecosystem with low code on Microsoft Power Platform
Microsoft Power Platform offers a suite of products such as Power Apps, Power BI, Power Automate, and Virtual Agents. You can build low-code applications on this platform and integrate those apps with Dataverse, a single source of truth for your digital ecosystem.
Are you a non-IT business and don’t have any expertise in technology? You can still create enterprise applications with low code, scale them, and integrate them with an enterprise digital ecosystem. To learn more about Microsoft Power Platform and low-code development, get in touch with our experts now.