Lan636 – in search of application development nirvana illuminated by new report

Earlier this year we looked at Gartner’s concept of bimodal IT, Gartner’s view of how IT departments need to change to handle the forces of digital disruption that demand nimbleness — the ability to respond quickly to new challenges — while simultaneously maintaining legacy applications that are fundamental to the day-to-day operations of business: ERP systems, accounting systems, CRM systems etc.

Bimodal IT describes the two types of projects in the application portfolio. Mode 1 applications are mission-critical, high-transaction applications that require stability and efficiency.

Mode 2 applications, which are driven by digitalisation, enable the business to access data, collaborate better, innovate, and improve business processes like case management. They need to be delivered quickly, with the flexibility to evolve as the business evolves.

Become a digital business – fast

In that article we did not really explore how organisation develop the ability to execute the new mode of IT. One proposed solution is ‘adaptive applications’. 

According to a white paper on the topic Adaptive Applications: The Fastest… Digital Business, “IT organisations already have the staff and tools to address strategic Mode 1 applications.

Now they need the tools to address Mode 2 applications.

For this, IT organisations must embrace digital platforms that enable them to be more agile.”

It quotes Gartner analyst, Jorge Lopez, introducing yet another concept: ‘business moments’. A business moment, according to Gartner, “exploits the connection of people, business and things, and allows companies to innovate for entirely new scenarios.”

LAN636 Adaptive applications quote

Lopez says: “The promise of digital business is that a universe of applications and digitalised assets that work together almost automatically will allow very rapid development of new capabilities that will yield competitive advantage. However, the differentiating fight will be for ‘business moments’ – the third level of digital reinvention created by the need to compete with increased speed and agility.”

The white paper says: “[Among] the platforms that enterprises are turning toward for this new mode of application development are agile process platforms. These are known by various names: low-code or no-code development platforms, but all are designed to do essentially the same thing: enable adaptive and flexible software development, essentially building (and launching) applications in days or weeks instead of months or years.”

The benefits of agility

It sums up the attributes thus:“An agile process platform is designed so that adaptive applications are assembled rather than manually coded. …  Solution architects can work quickly alongside subject matter experts to develop applications that are aligned with the business.

The low-code environment enables solution architects to quickly prototype an application, collect feedback from business stakeholders, re-incorporate that feedback in near real time, and show it to the business again – all within the course of a work week.”

It claims that, with an agile process platform, “IT can deliver applications to business constituents in days or weeks with the confidence that the solution is as relevant today as it was at the start of the project.”

That sounds like application development Nirvana, but like Nirvana it is unlikely to be easy to achieve.

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